14th Amendment, America, constitution, Constitutional Issues, gun control, Gun Lobby, Gun Rights, guns, Liberty, NRA, original intent, Progress, progressives, Sandy Hook, second amendment, Thomas Paine
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre the American people have reached an important crossroad on the issue of Guns in our society. While, I am not one who believes that we should completely ban civilian possession of firearms, something must be done to address the violence in this country.
I fully accept and understand the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It states:
“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
Now, I know I am not up to date on all the case law and the 223 years of interpretations of those fourteen words that are at the middle of the debate today, but I do know we have reached a crisis point in this country and something needs to be done. A crisis that does not mean that American’s have to give up their rights to hunt or own a handgun to protect themselves, their property or loved ones. But something must be done.
The question that I ask is can our current society be held hostage by the ideals of a previous generation and are we required as citizens, chained to a 1789 interpretation of our founding creeds and documents. Or do we adapt to our times, address the issues of the day and find a way to use our living document to heal the nation, instead of continuing to use it to restrict our efforts to protect ourselves. Thomas Paine, who was one of the greatest minds of our founding generation, wrote in his defense of the French Revolution entitled Rights of Man:
“If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free. Wrongs cannot have a legal descent.”
Thomas Paine wrote those very words in response to Edmund Burke claim that just because Parliament made a decree in 1688 it should endure for all time.
Let us not pretend that we have never adapted to the times, even when faced with original intent. A prime example of straying from original intent is the fact that thanks to the 14th Amendment, African-Americans are considered full citizens instead of the 3/5th in the original version of Article 1, Section 2 . We can also look at the National Firearm Act of 1934, which has practically been gutted by the gun lobby over the years. Through that act, fully automatic firearms are prohibited from civilian possession; except in a few cases. Congress had to react to the violence of the Prohibition era and now we have to react to the violence of today.
Contrary to all popular belief of the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby, lax gun laws do not create safer states. According to an article by the Daily Beast following the failed assassination of Congresswoman Giffords,
“You’re five times more likely to die from a gun in Arizona than Hawaii.”( http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/01/11/20-deadliest-gun-states-from-mississippi-to-arizona.html)
Arizona was ranked the 2nd deadliest gun state with 15 gun related deaths per 100,000 and the most permissive Gun laws in the Country. Hawaii had 2.8 per 100,000 with the third strictest Gun laws.
Now I know what you’re going to say. The sizes of the populations are vastly different. Well if we look at California, our most populous state, we see they have the strictest gun laws in the Country and are ranked 40th on the list. California has 9 gun related deaths per 100,000. So as we see, the numbers, like common sense are not favoring the libertine view of the gun lobby.
I know many have the false belief that any regulations on firearms are the equivalent of the total outright ban of them. And if they give an inch to the overwhelming demand of some sort of gun control they will no longer be free. Well, I’m not here to argue with the logic of a certain fringe that believes they need their guns to defend themselves from an overreaching government. I am calling for common sense reform, the same common sense that has helped the American people address our most difficult issues throughout our history.