Inevitably, after a mass-shooting incident like the one recently in Oregon, debate ignites anew over our country’s gun laws. The gun control side calls for “common sense gun laws”. Most on that side are in earnest, they see the easy availability of guns as the problem. Many Americans will agree, even gun owners, that guns should be kept out of the hands of the criminally insane. They work out the math as: maniacs + guns = mass killings. On the left, the main variable, perhaps even the only variable in this equation is the guns. Those on the political right see the ‘maniacs’ variable as being equally, if not more important. That is a debate that reasonable people can and should have.
There is another equation that those on the far left are focused on, one that does not embody the altruistic reasoning as the one mentioned above. For them, maniacs + guns = mass killings is but a façade, the one that really matters to them is: citizens – guns = control. They know that under the current state of affairs, to suddenly enact their agenda would be met by strong, perhaps even violent resistance. They fear that their extreme vision for America cannot be achieved through Constitutional means. Indeed, they are already testing those boundaries. For these people on the far, socialist, fringes the second amendment to the Constitution poses an inconvenient truth. A truth that they dare not speak of, nor wish to be understood by the average American.
America’s Founding Fathers could not have foreseen the pervasive social sickness that is driving the current rash of mass shootings. If they had, maybe they would have crafted the second amendment a little differently. We will never know. We do know that they did have experience with a tyrannical government and thus wrote the Bill of Rights as insulation from such tyranny. Most of those rights were to counter specific situations that they themselves were victims or potential victims of. These include the right to be secure in ones possessions and not be subject to warrantless searches as laid out in the fourth amendment. Most of the other amendments as well such as the rights of free speech and religion were meant to be protected by the government in the form of interventions by either law enforcement or by the courts. The citizenry exercises these rights and the government is expected to enforce them. The second amendment is different, the second amendment addresses the possibility of a rogue government that cannot or will not enforce certain of these rights. In this extreme case, the onus is on the citizenry itself to both exercise and enforce the right to bear arms as a means of preserving the others. Just to be clear here, the abridgment of rights must be severe and every other recourse must have been exhausted before anyone can claim to be acting as the amendment intends. For the Founders the equation was: responsible citizens + guns = the assurance of liberty. That’s the inconvenient truth about the second amendment for the radical left.
Many Progressives have accepted the fact that the second amendment will not be repealed. Some will note that they are gun owners themselves. Democratic candidates often go out of their way to state that they and their family are hunters, or enjoy target shooting. They wish to frame the argument over gun control in such terms. They hope that average Americans will associate their right to bear arms with such sporting pursuits.
Many politicians are fine with only minor changes to our gun laws in the name of public safety, but there are others who understand exactly why the second amendment exists and for them gun ownership is a problem. The difficulty for the average American is distinguishing between the two. How then do we know? Telltale signs that a politician does not support the second amendment are:
- Support for a ban on assault rifles. The wording of the second amendment includes: “A well regulated militia…” Militia by their very nature require military grade firearms. This goes too for ammunition.
- They make frequent statements such as: “You don’t need twenty rounds to kill a deer.” The Founders did not write the second amendment to ensure your right to hunt or target shoot.
- They claim the second amendment only applies to military and law enforcement and that ordinary citizens don’t need guns. The Founders deliberately used inclusive language in the amendment: “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Who are “the people”? Me and you, providing we are responsible citizens.
If you want to discuss how we can reduce gun violence, that is a discussion worth having. If you want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable, that’s reasonable. We might decide to address the problem of the dangerously mentally ill and see how that works. If on the other hand you want to take away the right of average law-abiding citizens to own a gun, then the question you owe America an answer to is: What exactly do you have planned for us that you think can only be achieved by disarming the population first?