Wondering About Guns

This is my contribution on this day of remembrance one month after the killings in Parkland, Florida.

That the possession of deadly weapons has become a very divisive issue is an understatement. Some people feel more secure with guns around. For some, the presence of guns is very frightening. I can understand that.

What I can’t understand is the way the Second Amendment has been twisted to support a supposed individual right to own guns, as if that right were absolute and did not need to be balanced with other rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In particular, I can’t understand why anyone would claim that raising the age at which someone can legally purchase a gun in order to promote public safety is a violation of constitutional rights.

The Second Amendment said that because we need a militia to provide for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. (emphasis mine) That meant – in 1791 – that the authorities could not come and take your gun, because if they did, and our country was attacked by some enemy, we would not be able to defend ourselves and the security of our nation would be in jeopardy.

Now, in 2018 and for a long time, we have a standing army, a national guard, and other branches of the military, who are all well-armed and capable of defending this free state. We have police. We have no need of citizen militias. The need that existed 227 years ago for ordinary citizens to have arms available to defend the country no longer exists.

I’m simply thinking logically. That the modern Supreme Court has construed this amendment as protecting an individual right to possess deadly weapons for personal use not related to national defense seems absurd.

One would think that, with the enormous number of people killed by guns — 60% of gun deaths are from suicide — we would want to register guns, keep track of them, issue permits only to people who can and will use them safely, and do whatever we can to limit their use to legitimate purposes.

I realize that “people kill people” as defenders of gun rights like to say. But people kill people with deadly weapons. And the deadlier the weapon, the more people can be killed. I would think that in the aftermath of so many massacres, we’d want to limit the availability of guns and seek to control them more effectively. I realize there are about as many guns out there as people in our country. It will be hard to control them. But we have to start, for the sake of our children and the lives of generations to come.

The bottom line for me is that we should have a bias toward keeping people safe rather than to further spread the availability of guns.

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