Yesterday, in my Who Won the Week post, I wrote about gun violence in America. Mass shoutings and gun violence are controversial topics in this country, so my post generated a lot of comments.
A few comments caught my attention. One commenter seemed to take issue with focusing on the “tools” of gun violence — the guns. She wrote, “My concern is on the dwelling on the tool, known as a gun, as opposed to deeply examining the people and conditions underlying the problem.”
She has a point, but without the so easily accessible “tool,” would those people and underlying conditions be able to produce so many mass shootings in this country?
I responded to her comment, pointing out that “the U.S. has 4% of the world’s population and 42% of its firearms. There are mass shooting nearly every week in this country.” I added, “In May 2019, 50 New Zealanders were killed in a mass shooting. Six days later the country banned all automatic and semiautomatic firearms sales and there have been no more mass shootings since then. Actions speak louder than words. Way louder than thoughts and prayers. It’s time to take action in this country.”
She then replied, “Guns won’t go away. There are too many and they serve a great importance. So, examining other correlations is critical. There are many! New Zealand doesn’t have a 2nd Amendment…certainly an option as a place to go for those who are afraid of our society.”
Actually, with the way things are, I’m not afraid of our society as much as I’m afraid for our society. Anyway, her comment got me thinking about the beloved Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
I do have perspectives regarding the Second Amendment. In fact, I have strong opinions about whether or not it actually applies to the ownership and use of concealed weapons and assault-style rifles.
Let’s review the wording of the Second Amendment: 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.
So what does it really mean? The opening phrase refers to “a well regulated militia.” What is a militia? According to dictionary.com, a militia is “a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.”
Merriam-webster.com defines it as “a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency” or “a body of citizens organized for military service.” Using these definitions of “militia,” most Americans are not members of one.
Now what about well regulated? The free dictionary.com defines well regulated as “controlled or supervised to conform to rules, regulations, tradition, etc.” I suggest that, when it comes to gun ownership, including concealed weapons, open carry, and semiautomatic assault rifles, the notion of “well regulated” is not even close.
Okay, let’s say, for the sake of discussion, that the framers of the Constitution really did intend for all citizens — well, at least white male citizens — to be armed, should they so choose, regardless of whether they were members of a “well regulated militia.”
But let’s also put this in context of the late 18th Century, when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written. This was a time when “standing armies” (e.g., the British Redcoats) were seen as a potential threat to freedom and liberty, and when calling out of the militia required individual soldiers to supply their own weapons.
Plus, the “arms” of that era were single-fire muskets, which, by the way, are impossible to carry around concealed, and flint-lock pistols. According to eHow.com, the steps involved in loading and firing a musket are:
- Standing up, set the hammer to “half cock” for safety reasons. You’ll be looking down the barrel quite a bit, and you don’t want the hammer on full cock, which if kicked or dropped, might cause the musket to fire.
- Grab a charge out of the box or from your ammo pouch. Tear off the top of the charge with your teeth and keep the ball that was on the top in your mouth. Pour the powder down the barrel. Put the ball of lead into the barrel and put the wadding from the package on top.
- Take the ramrod and tamp the powder, the ball, and the wadding into the barrel. The wadding is there to make sure that the ball and gunpowder stay put.
- Add some gunpowder to the flash pan below the trigger and fully cock the musket.
- Aim for the biggest mass you can on the battlefield because this weapon is not very accurate. Once you’ve set your sights on your target, press the trigger and the hammer will come down. This strikes flint against the pan, causing the gunpowder behind the ball to ignite and the weapon to fire.
At best, a highly trained soldier might have been able to pump out two to four musket shots a minute. Now let’s contrast that with an AR-15, today’s semiautomatic weapon of choice. Using 30 round magazines, it can easily fire off 30 to 45 rounds a minute.
Now think about our Founding Fathers back then, sitting around listening to tunes on their iPhones , texting each other, watching the Patriots game on their 65 inch, flat-panel Ultra High Def TV, or checking what their friends were up to on Facebook or Twitter. Can you seriously believe they had military-grade, semiautomatic assault rifles in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment?
And do gun rights activists and the NRA genuinely feel that it’s necessary for everyday citizens to be able to arm themselves with these assault weapons that are intended to inflict the maximum fatality potential in order to defend their homes or to hunt defenseless wild game?
I’m sorry, folks, but any reasonably thinking human being, even those who support the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, can’t possibly justify the availability and use of such assault weapons by other than members of the military — the professional military.
We need to stop the insanity. Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress to put public health above special interests and politics.