** I welcome feedback… Non-aggressive, thoughtful feedback. **
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If I can convince just one person… I’ve achieved nothing at all.
I have a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
I have a dragonfly sized drone capable of delivering a fatal dose of poison.
I have a tactical nuclear weapon stored in large suitcase in my garage.
Don’t infringe on my rights! I need to protect myself from my tyrannical government.
The Second Amendment of the United States 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.” That’s all there is. The whole thing. Fairly disappointing. Purposely vague to ensure centuries of squabbling and in-fighting.
I’m confident this is one of the most analyzed texts in our Constitution. Parsed and interpreted by some of the smartest people in history. Why should I even bother? Well, it’s my Constitution, too, and I’m getting really pissed with it.
Anyone who uses social media has been bombarded with portraits of our founding fathers graffitied with pro-Second Amendment quotes.
“An efficient militia is authorized and contemplated by the Constitution and required by the spirit and safety of free government.” James Madison (maybe).
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Thomas Jefferson (supposedly).
“When government takes away citizens’ right to bear arms it becomes citizens’ duty to take away government’s right to govern.” George Washington (possibly).
A well-regulated militia is required; therefore, people have the right to own weapons. That’s my take-away from the Second Amendment. Which leaves me with two arguments:
- the assumption is that “arms bearers” will be part of a well-regulated militia; and
- nobody says “all arms” or “any arms” just arms.
Here I go, stepping into that murky realm of what our Constitution intended. The founding fathers grew up 250 years ago in a totally different world. Technology was limited, our population was minuscule, communication methods were glacial, and discourse, I assume, was less bombastic. The framers of the Constitution are typically seen as farsighted soothsayers, capable of anticipating the changes that would occur over the coming centuries. These brilliant men wrote laws that transcend technological progress.
I agree, they did a phenomenal job. If I were writing a constitution, mine would be filled with admonishments about texting and driving. Our Constitution creates a framework for an enduring nation. But it isn’t perfect, any more than the framers were perfect. Yes, some were brilliant; but some were at the table simply because they were effective leaders; or brave; and some, no doubt, were simply opportunistic. Trying to be part of the “in” crowd. If the Constitution was perfect, we wouldn’t have amendments. And not all amendments are well-envisioned. The Eighteenth Amendment, establishing prohibition of alcohol, was akin to my texting and driving law. Thirteen years later they ditched it. They amended it away.
When the Constitution was written, all firearms were single-shot… and notoriously inaccurate. In fact, a popular battle weapon for the next one hundred years was the bayonet. After the soldier missed his target with the one or two reloads that an attack would afford, he simply leveled his weapon and jabbed his enemy repeatedly.
Possibly a firearm like a revolver was anticipated, but certainly not a Glock, or an AR-15, or a weaponized drone.
I hate guns. I don’t like being around them. I see them as an accident waiting to happen. The guns themselves, when well-made and properly maintained, are probably fine. But when you attach those guns to humans, bad shit happens. Humans have tempers, biases, bad days. They make mistakes, they screw up. Humans road-rage. They get bounced out of sleep confused. They misinterpret situations. They forget to set the safety when they stick their gun back in their purse.
People get shot. I don’t even like being around holstered guns in the possession of a cop. If a gun is present, there is always a chance it will be fired. But I’m also a realist. I understand that police carry guns because criminals carry guns.
I live in rural Pennsylvania. Lots of my friends are hunters. On paper, this seems like a good activity for me. I like spending time in the woods; I like to eat meat. But guns are involved, and I hate guns. I don’t begrudge my friends their hobby. They eat what they kill (I assume), and they properly store their rifles and shotguns when not in use (I hope). And as far as I know, none of them hunt with a pistol, or a semi-automatic rifle. These are the weapons to be carried by our well-regulated militia.
My town has a hardware store that carries almost no hardware. A few bins filled with nails and screws clutter a portion of the store the size of a walk-in closet. The rest of the store is filled with over-priced fishing gear and guns. Lots of guns. Guns are what people go there to buy. Except me. For years, I went there because it was the only place in town where I could find Cub Scout crap for my son. The next closest Scouting distributor is thirty miles away. So, several times per year, I would drag my six-year old son, and then my seven-year old son, and then my eight-year old son, through a gauntlet of middle-class white men buying pistols.
People holding a gun have a particular look in their eye. I recognize it well. It’s the same look I had when I was a kid. As I slowly shot apart the plastic models I had built of muscle cars, military airplanes and Lon Chaney monsters. I was a bad-ass. My BB gun gave me power; you could see it in my eyes. This is what I see in the expression of the men weighing a potential pistol purchase in their hand. Trying to decide if the gun offers the correct electrical feeling. Mentally imagining a quick-draw—something they would never do in the gun store, but will undoubtedly do in their bedroom mirror when they get home. And my son sees it too. I’m certain he is drawn to it. It’s the look of excitement.
As I squeeze past these men, as I walk through the displays of weapons, the 9/11 terrorist hunting license bumper stickers, and the shooting targets designed to resemble Muslims, these are the thoughts that swirl through my mind: Don’t you have something better to do with $500? Are you going to mistakenly shoot your wife when she returns to bed at 3:00 AM with a glass of water and a Tylenol? Is your son going to shoot his friend while showing off Dad’s new gun?
The biggest question in my mind, though is why do you want a pistol. Home protection? Isn’t a shotgun more effective? Certainly more intimidating. And useful for something other that protecting yourself from the intruder that will never come?
Our latest mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was just over two weeks ago. The bodies are buried, so it’s out of the news. Replaced by Benghazi (again) and Game of Thrones (again). The political furor is already dwindling to a soft hiss. The House Democrats staged their sit-ins and the House Republicans reaffirmed their commitment to the Second Amendment. The amendment that provides us with the means to arm a well-regulated militia—like our various branches of the military.
The call to rewrite our gun laws is again out of the news, off the front page. Only found in ranting blogposts like this one. And that’s how it will stay until next week, next month or next year… when someone decides to mow down seventy-two children at the Ringling Brothers Circus with an AR-15.
I’m told I don’t get it. The general populace needs to be ready! Ready to respond after we mindlessly elect a leader who establishes a tyrannical stronghold within our government. We need to be ready to stand up against that tyrant, armed to protect our freedoms, to wage our Second Amendment rights.
Based on what I read on the internet, this will happen in five months. We will either elect a lying, murdering, criminal hell-bent on disarming the entire populace so she can safely push her corporate-corruption agenda; or we will elect Adolf Hitler reincarnated as a real-estate mogul with a plan to seal our borders and create a registry of anyone who isn’t white and Christian. This is the worst time in history to restrict guns, they say. Our Second Amendment is just about to be tested.
So my question is: How? How does the Second Amendment play out? When is an armed uprising from a portion of the citizenry not seen as a coup? When is it seen as a constitutional right?
Judge: “Mr. Cann, you are charged with treason, terrorism, mayhem, and a bunch of other shit!”
Me: “No, no, I was exercising my right to secure a free state!”
One woman’s oppressive regime is the next man’s lawful society. Half of us are pissed with our government all the time. Who gets to decide when the time is right for revolution?
The Second Amendment gets in the way of common sense. It is a roadblock to laws that might make our communities safer. Like guns that only fire when the shooter is wearing a specific electronic bracelet. Like guns that are limited to fewer rounds of ammunition. Like mandatory background checks and registration. Like making it illegal (again) to carry a gun around town. Like requiring guns to be stored in locked, windowless cabinets.
Will these laws stop shootings like the one in Orlando? Sometimes. Will they stop countless accidents, suicides, and shootings by children who happened upon a gun? Absolutely.
When I was a young adult in the 1980s, we, as a nation, were just starting to talk about restricting the purchase of high capacity, automatic weapons. This talk was shouted down as a deal-breaker, as anti-constitutional, a slap in the face of our founding fathers. Those same founders who guaranteed Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Imagine if we enacted strict gun laws thirty years ago. Those seventy-two children who might one day die at the Ringling Brothers Circus, might have a chance to live their life.