Thursday, October 8, 2015


Image result for 2nd amendment gun advocates photos    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution 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    The Second Amendment needs to be repealed or drastically amended, because it is being used to justify a purpose for which it was never intended. There is no moral justification whatsoever for using it to argue for the right of private citizens to own assault weapons. That interpretation can be directly traced to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess and carry firearms (District of Columbia v. Heller).
    In another landmark decision (McDonald v. the City of  Chicago, 2010) the Court ruled that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Second Amendment to State and local governments, just as it applies to the Federal government. The Second Amendment, nevertheless, continues to be at the center of the ongoing discussion regarding gun rights and gun controls.           
    The misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, however, is not the elephant in the gun room. On the contrary, that amendment is a “given” in the on-going debate over gun-control legislation. It is far from being an unmentionable reality.
    No, the elephant in the gun room is, in my view, that hidden beast within the human species that takes pleasure in killing other living creatures. It is ever ready to raise its ugly head. Human beings
Nearly as many guns as people!
are the most violent species on Earth, and Americans are the most violent of the violent. Too many Americans are killing for the love of killing. There were more than 30,000 gun related deaths in the United States last year, many times more than any other nation.
    We need to look at the beast within us. I realize this is a radical statement that is not at all popular with gun owners and non-owners alike. The latter are appealing for legislation to tighten registration requirements and the types of weapons that can be purchased, not for the abandonment of the right to own guns. While they themselves are not hunters, they see nothing wrong with other people owning guns for hunting or skeet shooting.
    Gun owners, on the other hand,  can be grouped into two general categories, those who fiercely oppose any further restriction on gun ownership whatsoever, fearing that such legislation would lead eventually to the banning of guns altogether. They see it as a “slippery slope,” and they continue to accuse President Obama of having that as his secret agenda. 
    The second group of gun owners see the ownership of firearms by private citizens as a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, while at the same time they recognize the need for reasonable legislation to keep guns out of the hands of “undesirables” ( those with a history of mental illness, criminal records, suspected terrorists, etc.). There are, of course, variations of these general positions within each group.
            Destined for extinction?        

    None of them appears to be dealing, publicly at least, with the elephant in the gun room: the urge to kill. Why should any human being take pleasure in killing any living creature, let along another human being? What violent urge within them causes some people to delight in killing a lion, or tiger, or a rhino, or any other magnificent beast just to mount its head in one’s trophy room? Hunting for food is one thing; hunting for sport is something else! Come to think about it, how many Americans nowadays really have to hunt for their food?
    One day many years ago as I passed by my then three-year-old son Andy, who was playing by the sidewalk, I unknowingly stepped on an ant that he had been observing with great fascination. “Daddy!” he cried out to me sorrowfully, “You stepped on one of God’s kweechers!” Would that we adults had a similar reverence for animal life  —and human life!
    What absurdly misguided notion makes some gun advocates argue that the way to prevent gun violence is to arm more people with guns, even elementary school teachers and college professors? How reprehensible of the National Rifle Association to advocate such a solution!
    I personally would be happy if the only persons allowed to have guns were those whose
professions demanded it for the purpose of maintaining public safety, including military and security personnel and the police.  How many more mass murders, how many more gang related killings, how many more domestic killings and accidental shootings do there need to be before our society says “NO!” to the false arguments of the NRA and its self-serving supporters?
    Now before you dismiss me as naive, or an unrealistic pacifist, or a totally impractical idealist, or whatever, let me inform you that I grew up wearing a uniform. I went to a military school. I was in an ROTC unit in college before enlisting in the United States Navy. I am a World War II veteran, having served for 44 months. I could have been killed but fortunately was only slightly wounded my first day aboard ship, when a fellow officer accidently fired the pistol I was being issued.
    That said, here is an admittedly radical solution to America’s gun violence that is worthy of serious debate: First, amend or repeal the Second Amendment. This is a national problem. It should be dealt with at the Federal level. To allow States to determine their own gun laws, as
Speak up, speak out, speak often!
they now do, is not working at all. What good does it do for one State to ban the sale of assault weapons, for example, if their citizens can purchase them in some other State?
     The weapons industry, including the manufacture and the retail sale of weapons would have to be much more highly regulated than it is now. The Federal government should license local retail outlets as agencies responsible for “renting” rifles to qualified individuals as needed for the seasonal culling of herds, when it is properly approved to do so, for participating in sporting events (e.g., skeet or target shooting and biathlons,), and approved hunting for food. Private ownership of hand guns and assault weapons of any kind should be banned, and illegal possession of such weapons treated as a criminal offense. All trophy hunting should be banned and violators severely prosecuted. The possession of weapons should be limited to legitimate military, law enforcement, and security personnel.
    These are only generalized suggestions. The specific details of such regulations would have to be carefully worked out, of course, including the process of reacquiring the weapons now in the hands of present gun owners, and the cost of such a program would be far less than the overall amount saved in the reduction of crime and its related costs. It is estimated that the total direct and indirect cost of gun violence to the American economy is more than 229 billion dollars a year!    
    The question is, how serious are we about ending the kinds of killings that are happening every day in the land of the free and the home of the brave? What better step could we Americans take toward fulfilling former President George H. W. Bush’s dream of becoming “a kinder, gentler nation” than by ridding people of the guns that prove we are anything but that?
    If we as a nation are not willing to go as far as I have suggested to stop the horrible scourge of gun violence, how far are we as individuals willing to go to deprive the beast within us of its most dangerous and deadly weapons?

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