The Right to Bear Arms

Has there ever been a more hotly debated subject in the history of our nation? I don’t know, but this one has raged for far too long.

The text of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights reads,

“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.”

The purists say loud and long that the above statement guarantees them the right to own any and all firearms they wish, and most believe it should be so without any regulation. However, the unregulated ownership of such weapons doesn’t seem to fall under the parameters of a “well regulated Militia.”

Given the fact this case has been before the Supreme Court on several occasions, I’ll assume some of the following views have already been debated, add infinitum.

Now let’s be clear, I’m a former gun owner, and a former NRA member, but I sold the guns for both financial and safety concerns when my children were young. I declined further membership in the NRA because I don’t agree with their wide open direction.

I’ve had the privilege of personally knowing several police officers in my lifetime, and the concerns they voiced I agreed with wholeheartedly. When we tie the hands of Law Enforcement to prevent violence and harm, we do ourselves and our community a great disservice. When an officer complains aloud that he is forced to stand idly by while a citizen sells second-hand firearms to other people that require no check or registration of any kind, knowing full well those guns are headed for the hands of black-market criminals, we have a serious problem. In my personal view, the NRA should be the spearhead in helping Law Enforcement keep firearms out of such questionable hands.

I don’t want to see a complete ban on firearms placed on the general public, and I wouldn’t rule out the option of someday owning another gun, but as a law-abiding citizen I don’t fear that Law Enforcement is my enemy in such matters. In the same way we expect police officers to be trained to do their jobs and use their firearms with both accuracy and prudence, why are so many gun owners opposed to doing the same themselves?

I’ve made the comparison before between guns and cars, generally being shouted down that driving and car ownership is a privilege and not a right. Yet the Second Amendment begins with the purpose of a “Well regulated Militia.” I believe the comparison to be quite valid. I have the right and freedom to buy a car if I so choose, but I do not have the right to use that vehicle with reckless abandon, endangering the lives of myself and others.

I was required to complete training to prove my competence, and obtain a license that I must keep current while retaining my fitness to those standards. I would not want to climb aboard an airliner knowing its pilot was untrained, substandard, or criminally negligent, nor would I want those same problems existing with police officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel. Why then are gun owners so exempt from any such standard?

To be even more nit-picky in the face of “it’s my right,” the text reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms.” No, cars didn’t exist in that time, but “arms” could just as easily be swords, knives, bow and arrows, slingshots, or pitchforks. The text doesn’t say, “firearms, rifles, muskets, pistols, or cannons,” all of which did exist at the time of said writing.

Why do gun owners fear the responsibility of law enforcement? Huge numbers of people die on our roads and highways each year but no legislation is underway to ban the ownership of motor vehicles. As a responsible driver, I have no objections to the laws that provide me the means to buy and sell an automobile with a measure of protection, and I am happy those laws provide police with viable ways to track and apprehend those who commit crimes.

If I chose to own another gun, and had to go through the very same process it takes for me to purchase a car, then I’m fine with that. If we are ever going to see a measure of safety for our children, grandchildren, and loved ones, then we need to give our law enforcement the tools and information they need to reach criminals before they have the chance to act. It will never be foolproof any more than saying there will never be another highway death, but we should be helping the problem instead of fighting against the very people who serve to protect us.

The concept of armed citizens has its valid points, and in many rural areas of the country, police response time is daunting due to the distance they must cover. In such cases, an armed citizen essentially assumes the role of the peace officer, which makes training and competent responsibility all the more vital.

I believe the vast majority of police officers would welcome such assistance, but the last thing we need in an “Old West”, frontier gunslinger mentality. Unfortunately, I hear that point of view touted far too often as a solution to such problems. They are usually the same people who believe that armed teachers should be in every classroom.

Seriously? I personally wouldn’t want any child of mine trying to get an education in an environment where they fear for their lives each day. Schools need security as opposed to weapons. We do it for the safety of public sporting events and concerts, so why not where our children go to learn and grow?

If we want a safe country, then we should be an extension of our valiant men and women who serve to protect our communities, not their opposition. We should provide them the help they need to effectively do their jobs, even if that means a little extra paperwork to put us in the ranks of those on the side of peace and justice.


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