Tuesday, December 06, 2005

2nd Amendment

Gun Control - what it means differs from one group to another. For one group, it means regulating and/or banning the ownership of weapons (usually handguns). For another group, it means hitting what you're aiming at.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "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."

Why did the Framers of the Constitution include the Second Amendment? There were several reasons.

The first reason was that the War for Independence showed that a citizen army (the Militia) was important for the security of the country. Think about it for a second - a ragtag citizen army defeated one of the world's most powerful armies in the War for Independence. This Militia was the forerunner of the National Guard.

The second reason is that they recognized that a person had the right to defend their family, their property, and themselves. Criminals, Indians, and invading soldiers all sought to deprive the inhabitants of supplies, property, and sometimes their lives. It was a matter of survival. The Virginia Declaration of Rights (which predated the Bill of Rights and the Constitution) recognized that the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness is an inherent right (VDoR, Section 1 summary).

The third reason is somewhat darker. Having gone through a rebellion, and recognizing that it may be necessary in the future that a strong and overbearing government may need to be overthrown by force, the Framers did not want to forbid this potential tool. Note that the Framers set up a government with Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches, but this government was serve the People. If the Government no longer served the People, then the People had the same right to rebel against the Government as the Colonials rebelled against England.

I need to stop here and note: I am NOT advocating an armed uprising! We are far from such an occurrence, & have many other tools available to us such as voting responsibly, writing & petitioning our elected officials, and the Constitutional right of free speech. The above is presented as historical reasons for the Second Amendment that I have learned over the years.

So where does that leave us 225+ years later? Our society does not have invading armies or Indian raiding parties to fight off, but we still have robbers, murderers, and various others who would wish us harm.

To the best of my knowledge, the right to defend my family or myself has not been abolished. And I would be a fool to think that the police would camp out on my doorstep to keep harm away. Where the ownership of a weapon, whether it would be a rifle, shotgun, or pistol became a debatable item is beyond me.

Yes, I understand that the normal, law-abiding citizen would not need a fully automatic machine gun. But why is there such a movement to remove or restrict the option of owning a firearm? You don't have to own a firearm, but don't you think it would be nice to have the power of deciding on your own if you want one or not?

According to the Second Amendment, that right is protected. The argument that if we, the law-abiding public, are forced to turn in our firearms, only the criminals will have firearms is absolutely true. Remember, criminals do not operate under the same social norms as the rest of society.

In talking to a friend from Canada, the problem of armed robbery and other gun-related offenses are on the rise. The same is true for Great Britain and other "enlightened" countries. These countries have outlawed firearm ownership by the citizens of the country.

Proponents of severely restricting or banning gun ownership point to the high rate of gun-related crimes in the United States. This is a fact that cannot be denied. My question to them is this: How can outlawing guns stop this type of crime? Again, criminals do not operate under the same social norms as the rest of society. They will always find ways to get a firearm and commit the crime because they do not obey the law, and will do almost anything to achieve their goal, i.e. illicit material gain or harm to another person. Disarming the law-abiding citizen, in my mind, will encourage the criminal to expand the list of potential crimes and victims. And this violates the intent of the Second Amendment.

Note: Owning a weapon carries responsibilities. Quite frankly, there are people who should not even be near one because they are not responsible or mentally mature enough. Owning a weapon does not mean you should be able to strap one on & go out and play policeman. This is where careful licensing through education and the demonstration of qualifications is necessary. Training classes are a must in many states for permits to carry or own firearms.

There are several communities such as San Francisco that have recently voted for the ban of private firearm ownership within the city limits. Will they have a run on criminal activity? Time will tell, and I'm happy I don't live in a politically correct "gun-free" zone. I want that option to defend my family. To not be able to legally have the option to defend them with a firearm is the real crime that everyone will overlook until it hits home.

Remember, guns don't kill people. It's people who use guns that kill people. A gun is an inanimate object just like a knife, hammer, or screwdriver. It's how it's used and the person using it that makes the difference. And that is called personal responsibility.

2 comments:

Joe Hagarty said...

Tom - great blog - I will link you on my civildiscussions site. Thanks for stopping by.

Tom said...

Thanks, Joe. Appreciate the complement. Was beginning to wonder if this was just another voice in the wind...