Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Right to Bear Arms


The issue is whether or not the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights should apply to present day assault weapons. Clearly it can be reasoned both in favor and against.
To start this discourse let’s begin by re-stating the exact language of the amendment. It is,” 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 Bill of Rights was adopted in 1789. It was written by intelligent patriots who desired to produce a Constitution that would last a long time. We can all agree that they did a magnificent job. We are still functioning today.
Many learned scholars have interpreted this amendment over the years. This will be my attempt to understand and state my own conclusions.
At the start of the conflict with England, America did not have an army nor did it have State National Guard units or for that matter State Troopers or even police except in the larger cities. All it had were its citizens. Most if not all families had long rifles for hunting and to defend themselves from the native Indians and wild animals. They would band together in time of trouble. These were the men called to arms to fight for our independence. I therefore conclude that the amendment was written to have arms available to fight for their country as required and secondarily provide them the right of self defense.
In the 218 years since written there has been a huge difference between then and now. Today we have huge Military establishments directed by the Pentagon as well as State National Guard units, State Patrol, County Sheriffs, police departments and of course the F.B.I. At the present time these are all voluntary services. In time of war the government might be compelled to initiate a draft for personnel but whether volunteer or drafted the people called are not asked to bring their hunting rifles with them. It is possible therefore to conclude that arms possessed by the people are not required for the defense of the nation. They could of course be used by those citizens who desire to overthrow the government. I cannot believe that was the intention of the drafters of this amendment. A secondary use might be for citizens to fight against a foreign invader like the partisans did in Europe during the Second World War. This latter then would support the need to keep and bear arms.
As a nation more of our citizens own weapons than any other “civilized” country. We see every day on TV the carnage being inflicted on people in what I will refer to as un-civilized countries. These are the ones who parade around with their AK 47’s and wearing face masks.
One of the differences is that until recent times the weapons owned in America were hunting rifles, shotguns and pistols all of which were limited in fire power. I am not sure when assault weapons became available for purchase but I do know that an assault weapons law was in effect during the Clinton administration and allowed to lapse in 2004 during the administration of George Bush.
It is even possible today to purchase high powered sniper rifles capable of shooting down domestic aircraft. All of these new weapons are designed to kill people, lots of people, such as we have just witnessed at Virginia Tech. This will not be the last, in fact I believe other copy cat types will be inspired by this and try to set higher goals of mayhem. The members of the NRA and all everyday citizens should be assured gun ownership but not these new killer weapons. Surely we can agree on this, can’t we?

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
April 19, 2007

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