United States Constitution, Amendment II: “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.”
I recently saw on the news (CNN, June, 2017) that nearly 1,300 children were shot and killed in our country every year. I don’t want children killed with a gun at school or anywhere else.
First, a bit of what the media like to call “Breaking News.” Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has called for a repeal of the 2md Amendment (Raleigh News and Observer, March 27, 2018). I agree, mostly because I’m convinced the 2nd is, as Justice Stevens notes, “…a relic of the 18th Century….” and hasn’t been correctly interpreted since roughly 1850. Here is my take on understanding it.
Let’s begin with the first clause: “A well regulated Militia….” Those are the first four words, and as my education in the subject of the English language concludes, they are the basis for the rest of the sentence. Everything that comes later in the sentence relies on and refers to “A well regulated Militia….” (Dictionary definition of a militia: a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.)
Next comes: “… being necessary to the security of a free State….” When that was written, the “free State” had not much of an army, navy, air force, coast guard, or merchant marine. None of those were at all enough to ensure the security of a free State. In fact, a couple of them (air force, coast guard, and merchant marine) didn’t even exist. Hence the need for “A well regulated Militia,” intended to be what was needed to secure the “free State,” not unregulated hundreds of thousands of individual gun owners, but “A well regulated Militia.”
Next comes: “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms….” The long accepted use of the phrase “the people,” as in “We the people…,” the first words of the Constitution, is that “the people” means the total population – “the people” equals the entire country. “The people” refers to all the people, the entire population, not individuals who just want a gun, or a collection of guns.
The last few words of the 2nd, “…shall not be infringed” means that the people, the country, shall not be forbidden, precluded, disallowed, to form those well regulated militias to protect and defend the free State. It does not mean individuals stocking up on guns and stockpiling ammo for target practice, amusement, drive-by shootings, school shootings, night club shootings, or any of the other horrible shootings that taken the lives of children and other innocent people, shootings that happen more in our America than in any other country.
Here is what I would include in a new Constitutional Amendment. The right of individuals who have reached a minimum age of 21 to purchase and own guns for limited and legal uses; however, I would ban private ownership of any automatic, military-style weapons. I also support rigorous background investigations, waiting periods, firearms training, and limits on the number of rounds in a magazine for a semi-automatic weapon. After background investigation, training, and a waiting period, I would require a license to complete all purchases of guns, said background investigations and licenese(s) to be renewed on an annual basis. I would make ownership transfers between individuals, including family members, subject to the same requirements as those transfers and purchases from a gun dealer. There should be due process required of anyone to obtain and keep any gun from any source.
Some will say I’m proposing too many safeguards, too much cost, and too much regulation that will never work. Some will say it’s too late, that too many weapons are already in the hands of people who have no business owning them. I know this article will be met with those criticisms and more, but I am sick and tired of learning about shootings, dead and injured children, dead and injured innocent people. We cannot simply hope another shooting won’t happen. We cannot just offer thoughts and prayers to families that have lost children and other family members. We must act now. We must convince our elected officials to act now. Americans can and must do better.
I don’t care how much time and money and regulation it takes. I don’t want children killed with a gun at school or anywhere else. I don’t want innocent lives lost by gunfire no matter what and how long it takes to achieve a safer democracy. I don’t want to minimize the risk of mass shootings; I want to eliminate that risk.