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Looking At The 2nd Amendment

You’d have to be under a rock not to know the massive debate on gun control going on in the United States right now. We’ve seen the devastation wrought by a automatic weapons being unleashed in schools, movie theaters, heck, on the street in broad daylight! As a reflection of the gun insanity in the USA, we have the highest gun ownership per capita in the world & the highest murder rate in the world. If that’s a clear cut demonstration of the result of rampant, unchecked gun ownership and use, I don’t know what is.

And then, we have the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

It’s amazing that a single sentence can create such havoc. (For a very thorough overview of the historical prescedents that lead to the decision of this particular sentence & its wording, read this article – for history nerds only ^_^.) Attorneys LOVE to have a field day with the interpretation of this amendment — particularly with representation from the NRA — but if we’re going to play that nasty game of semantics, then two can play at that game. Let’s break this down:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

When this Amendment was created, the country was facing a number of challenges as a budding nation. Rightfully so, the founding fathers recognized that their push away from England’s stronghold required that they had the right to bear arms. Let’s consider the type of arms they had during that time: muskets, pistols, rifles, cannons… not in their wildest dreams did the militia of the American Revolution consider the possibility of weapons like we have today. I seriously doubt they would cosign on some of the weapons in the hands of civilians these days.

Just as this Amendment states, “well-regulated Militia” can (and should) clearly be understood that there should be some oversight by someone as to who would qualify as “militia”. In today’s terms, that is something I think should be left to the State as to who is considered qualified… meaning laws regulating who can and cannot access arms.

The simplest way to do this is to require licensing for all gun owners. Many states do this, but it usually only covers certain types of firearms like handguns or rifles. A license clearly shows that a person is qualified to safely handle certain types of guns. I would extend licensing to be in classes, like a drivers license. There is a clear difference between handling a hunting rifle, a pistol and an AK-47. No license, no gun. For that matter, they tried to ban assault weapons with the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban and it met with success, even with the wealth of loopholes that allowed owners to keep weapons made prior to 1994. When they let it lapse after 10 years, lo and behold the numbers of assault weapons on the streets skyrocketed. Gee, I wonder why.

To get an idea of what our counterparts with lower rates of murder do to regulate their guns, check this out.

No one, especially me, is refuting that any American has the right to bear arms. They do. However, questions need to be asked in advance of handing one over:

  • Is this person qualified? (Licensing, mental health, etc.)
  • Does this person have a history of violence? (Criminal record, etc)

We need a tighter evaluation before making a single sale or acquisition. The 2nd Amendment lets us have arms, but I seriously doubt anyone meant the kind of catastrophic weapons we have today and particularly, how they are being used against fellow citizens. Simply put, the average citizen does not need assault weapons to go hunting or to defend themselves.

Just as in the American Revolution, there may come a time where the tyranny of government may force us to seek another New Revolution. Truth be told, with a number of ways to take out countries (electronic, financial, etc), these weapons are the new frontier of tyranny-busting… not assault rifles.

“.. the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The 2nd Amendment is a national-level law securing an individual’s right. It ensure that each person is able to, should they choose, own and keep a weapon — they would not be subject to unsubstantiated seizure of their arms. Just as we put limitations on how old someone can be to purchase a gun, there is no reason why we can’t put limitations on what kind of guns are available to the average citizen without advanced licensing. High-level weapons that are generally for law enforcement or the military should be off-limits to the average public. This kind of limitation does not take away from the plethora of gun choices that can be obtained under the tenets of this Amendment.

Let’s look at this from a slightly wider perspective. Take the 6th, 7th and 8th Amendments to the Constitution, which ensure a speedy trial, a trial by jury, right to counsel and prohibits cruel and usual punishment. You know what supersedes these amendments by current legislation? The USA Patriot Act. Go on and read it for yourself. Let’s remember for a moment that President Bush pushed this into law and President Obama quietly signed off on keeping it active. You will be shocked by the number of amendments tossed aside for sake of national security. Our neighbors in the European Union are none too happy about our Patriot Act these days, since we’re trying to push this law on them. How arrogant.

So, to those saying that the 2nd Amendment is unchangeable and infringes on the rights of every American, you can go shove it. We are at a crossroads where we have an opportunity to do something about this rampant violence, to create change in regulations. Do we need another Columbine or a Newton Connecticut school shooting? Do we need more movie theater gun-downs? Stop it. These are average Americans, just living their lives and going from Point A to Point B. For that matter, I don’t see the sense of teachers “packing heat” nor armed guards in schools. These are institutions of learning and should be “gun-free zones”. We need more zones like this.

Let’s start looking at what’s best for this country for a change and turn this wild tide of violence around for the better. Let’s educate and nurture our young so that they don’t see guns (or violence in general) as a means to an end or a way to act out in the world. It is not the way to solve your problems, issues or wants.