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 is the actual language of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. There has been no more misunderstood 27 words in US history. The money, arguments, political fights, and the industry that has has been created over these words has led to one of the worst health epidemics in our nations history. I saw 2 statistics today that made me think that there has to be a change in the way this Amendment is interpreted. First, from 2009 to 2012 more children under the age of 10 have been killed by gunfire than police officers killed in the line of duty. If this does not cause you to stop and think than stop reading, I don’t want to disturb your slumber. The other number is that in 2009, 12,000 people killed in the US due to gun violence while in the UK there were 39. Not 39 per 100 or 39 per capita, 39 people total. As a former police officer, these numbers bother me and they should bother you. When it is more dangerous to send my daughter to school that it was for me to go to work as a cop there is a problem.
I am a defender of the Constitution. I took an oath to defend the principles of this document that defines our way of life. I don’t think guns need to be outlawed in this country, but to think that the 2nd Amendment is somehow free from interpretation and regulation is ridiculous. I know more educated men and women than I have argued before the courts over time on this issue, but it seems to me the spirit of the founding fathers has been lost. In 1787 the population of this country was around 4 million people. At the time we had a standing Army of 625 people. The defense of our country fell into the hands of people like you and me. We had just fought a bloody war for our independence and we had every reason to think that at any given time we could be threatened by invasion by British troops, Natives who wanted their land back or the Dutch, who we owed our entire operating budget to via loans from their Trading Company loan sharks. Hence the wording “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a State”. Yet, the first half of the Amendment that has been responsible for more deaths of US citizens than any war is completely ignored by the Supreme Court, NRA, gun rights advocates and most of the common citizenry.
“The court ruled the Second Amendment right was a right of individuals, not militias, and was not a right to form or belong to a militia, but related to an individual right to bear arms for the good of the United States, who could serve as members of a militia upon being called up by the Government in time of collective need.” Presser v. Illinois 1886
“In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. ‘A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.’ And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.”‘ US v. Miller 1939
“The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. District of Columbia v. Heller 2008
How did we get from 1939 to 2008? That my friends, is the subject for another day.
The argument has been made that we no longer have to call up men to arms to defend the country and the wording is obsolete. I argue against this. We have a National Guard, which is as close to a State Militia called up to defend it’s citizenry as we’re ever going to get in our lifetime. I would argue that the need for the amendment is obsolete, since we arm and regulate these groups properly. If we are invaded by foreign troops do we think a bunch of gun toting citizens with no training, no organization and no authority are going to grab up their SKS rifles and high capacity magazines and protect us? Hell no, the military and the National Guard is going to do it. If you’re stupid enough to run around as a private citizen with your gun in hand at that time in our history, hell, you’ll probably get shot by the Guard before Red Dawn gets you.
But what about if our Government turns against us? Well, see above. I know a lot of people who think that having their cache of guns will protect them when the revolution comes. They believe that the Government wants to ban guns and take them from citizen to make it easier to take over our life and force us to live in interment camps. Wayne Lapierre would have you believe this day is around the corner, but he’s been screaming this for years and I haven’t seen it yet. They think their guns offer them a chance to fight and stand up for their way of life. I find 2 fundamental flaws in this logic; 1, I don’t think this is even remotely close to happening. Even if it was, there’s flaw number 2: If the US Government decided to take over the country and institute whatever it is you people are afraid of, you are powerless to stop it, even by force. Military personnel are better trained, better armed and better prepared to carry out their mission than you are to defend against it. At the end of the day the single most important job for military or police is to GO HOME. So for those of you who think that the military will somehow lay down arms, guess again. Shoot at me and I’ll shoot at you, regardless your political, personal or idealogical issues. I personally know there are factions within law enforcement who can’t wait for this day so they can go out and clean up the streets. Their words, not mine. It will be the ugliest day in our history. I actually had someone tell me recently that the military would never turn on it’s own citizens. I got 3 words for you: US Civil War. I got some other words for you: It’s not foreign militants who are shooting 12,000 people to death every year, it’s US citizens.
The time has come for this country to do what it’s citizens cannot; get responsible about gun ownership. Restrictions on legally owning a gun need to be instituted, not banning guns across the board. In England the process takes time and requires an individual to undergo background checks, provide references, show proficiency with the weapon (usually by association with a gun club or training by such club) and provide a secure location for storage, such as a gun safe. You also have to do this for each class of weapon such as shotgun, rifle and handgun and subject your storage means to be inspected by police. This is a nation who for the last 60 years suffered war, civil unrest and terrorism within their borders. Between the Nazis and the Irish Troubles that carried on for decades there was a real need to protect oneself and yet they still have less gun violence than this nation does by a long shot. In this country, it is harder to get a drivers license than it is to buy a gun. I can walk into Wal-Mart today and within 30 minutes walk out of the store with a gun and ammo without showing the slightest bit of understanding on how it works or an explanation for its purpose to anyone. Yet to get a drivers license I need to pass a written and practical proficiency exam. I fail to see how measures such as these are a negative. Other Constitutional Amendments have been subject to restrictions and limitations. We have freedom of speech, yet I can’t publish something that is slanderous to another person; I can’t walk into a crowded theater and shout “Fire” causing a public disturbance; police can perform warrantless searches in some exceptional cases; all men were created equal in the eyes of the Constitution (unless you were black until 1865 or a woman until 1920). The point of these examples should be obvious. As times change, the Constitution has changed with it. Except in this one area. It’s time for our Congress (both House and Senate members) to put aside their money bags and get down to the business of protecting this country and it’s citizens from our own worst enemy, itself.