The Second Amendment secures certain rights, but not absolutely so. The right to bear arms is one of those. It arose in a time when citizens defended themselves in militias and able bodied men kept their weapons in their homes. They would also assure that they were armed against occupying external forces. That was a remarkably different time than our own. What that cannot mean in our own time is that private citizens are armed like law enforcement or our military. That degree of armament should be governed for the sake of the entire citizenry.
Does this mean that people shouldn’t have their hunting rifles and shotguns, handguns for personal protection? Of course it doesn’t mean that. But friends, as a friend, please lock ’em up if you have them. I’m amazed I didn’t kill someone in the home of my childhood. I played with loaded firearms scattered around our house. I understand now why more fatalities occur as the result of unmonitored firearms in homes – accidents involving children and domestic violence – than out on the streets. The beast is inside the front door, not outside on the porch.
And … your second amendment rights are not more important than the life of my child, or my life, or of my neighbor’s life. It’s a right, but not an absolute one. It’s a freedom, but not an absolute freedom. Like everything else it has limits.
Universal background checks are not unreasonable, but a sign of sanity. Screen out, as far as is possible, those who shouldn’t have access. Will that keep the guns out of all the hands of the crazies and criminals? No it won’t. But it is the right, reasonable, and sane policy for a civilized society. It will discourage and screen out and that’s good enough. We have to be licensed to operate a vehicle on our public roads. Why should the standard be any less for gun ownership?
If guns were the solution to all the violence problems we’re experiencing right now we would have already solved them by now. With 300 million weapons distributed broadly across the nation we haven’t found a way forward yet. Arming every teacher and student in our schools isn’t going to do it. Rather, that kind of approach will destabilize even more. It’s just common sense.
It’s ridiculous to believe that high power assault style weapons and their accompanying accessories should be available to ordinary citizens. The carnage they can inflict is immense. You don’t need them to hunt or for common protection. The only purpose for weapons like that is to mount a siege against either law enforcement or the military. Preparing for anarchy is not the way forward. Get serious.
This is, of course, highly politicized. Rank and file citizens – gun owners or not – are much more moderate about all these issues. They should speak up and decry the fringe positions at the extremities.
Now a special word to my good friends who belong to the NRA, because I have some and you are reading this: There is a difference between the explicit objectives of your organization – gun safety, sportsmanship – and the political agenda of the board of directors of the NRA. They don’t represent you well. I suspect it’s time for you, as members, to speak to your own board. After all, you are the ones paying the dues and allowing them to do what they do. Just take a minute to consider who sits on that board. They are the CEOs of the gun industry. They have a vested interest – economically – in selling their product. They want to remove as many barriers to making profit as is possible. So whatever else the NRA ostensibly says about its mission, the primary focus is lobbying congress. They do it for their financial interest – not yours, the law-abiding citizen gun owner, or the public at large. They will create every argument possible to make the most money and do. They are using you. If I were an NRA member I would start talking about that. I would expect them to cease and desist fostering extreme positions that are so out of step with the typical citizen or sportsman. And then I would probably take my shotgun and go home and redirect my money elsewhere. Suspend your judgement for a minute and take a close look for yourself.
This is not the wild west; it has become worse. The answers that worked before are not working now. As we regain just a modicum of sanity we will need to think about this differently. The golden mean is never easy to achieve, but it is called golden for a reason. Time to find it.