In the discussion of gun rights there are many references to the phrase “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Less quoted is the very first part of the Amendment authorizing a “well regulated Militia.” Even back when the only weapons that existed were single shot muskets, our Founding Fathers felt it necessary to add the words “well regulated.” They would never have dreamed that private citizens could eventually become better armed than our police forces. And since the Constitution is a living document and has been amended many times to reflect the changes in our culture, I think it is time to update our interpretation of this Amendment to reflect the current weapons technology and the increase in criminal and social violence.
In Alabama I grew up surrounded by gun owners and I support the Second Amendment. I know of no one who opposes the use of guns for hunting or personal protection. But I think that even the average gun owner realizes that assault weapons and high capacity magazines are not necessary for these activities. Weapons that can cause devastating damage to a group of people in a few short minutes are only appropriate for our soldiers.
If we asked the mother of the shooter at Sandy Hook if her right to have those kinds of weapons was worth the tragedy that resulted, I wonder what she would say. But, oh yeah, we can’t ask her because she was the first victim.
The leader of the NRA likes to blame violent movies/games as a cause for this frightening increase in U.S. gun deaths. And that is one issue to explore. However, all countries have those same influences, yet their gun deaths are a mere fraction of ours. Is it because Americans are more blood-thirsty or crazy than their citizens? Or could it possibly be because we have many more unregulated guns in our country? Couldn’t that even be considered as a factor?
Even a majority of NRA members recognize the need for improvements in background checks and recognize that a discussion of addressing ways to confront this problem is needed. Do not let a knee-jerk reaction to common sense gun safety regulations render us powerless to come to a solution.
Let’s return to the Constitution’s intent of being “well-regulated.”