I stand with the 20 Percent.
I read Jacob Taylor’s recent opinion piece in The Point News titled “Gun Control: Rights and Regulations” with great anticipation. While his analysis is detailed, it is misguided. He writes that most in the debate over guns talk about the Second Amendment, and then says that this amendment is “not relevant to the argument over gun control.” His justification for this is that it is “too vague…far too short [and] implies that gun ownership is a right while simultaneously offering equal support to the possibility of regulation.” Then he says that the “vagueness of the Second Amendment…means that every legal option is meant to be up for debate and vulnerable to repeal.” After this he calls for a shift in the discussion, in which he says that all arms, even knifes and bows, are lethal and that “we need to decide is how much killing power is acceptable.”
I agree and this is part of the current debate. Then he writes that while “American citizens have a right to bear arms…it is foolish to assume that we have a right to bear any and all arms available.” He concludes that possibly “assault weapons are okay” and that “the right to possess killing power cannot be unlimited” which makes the right to bear arms not apply at all. I would like to offer an alternative opinion by representing the 20 percent of America who believe that guns can only be guaranteed to state militia members.
First off, I agree that killing power should be limited and that the amendment muddies reform efforts. Also, I don’t think possessing assault weapons is okay at all. As a result, the Second Amendment is relevant to this discussion. It’s like saying the First Amendment doesn’t apply to a debate about a bill that promotes online censorship like the Stop Online Privacy Act or the Protect IP Act. For one, self-reported gun ownership is the highest it’s been since 1993, so this is important to get right. One must remember the history of this amendment and how it was really about avoiding a standing army. Additionally, at the time this was written, a “free state” meant a slave state and “people” meant white males, meaning the amendment was about containing runaway slaves. The original draft proposed by George Mason even adds more to this rich history, noting that “Standing Armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided…and that in all cases, the military should be…governed by the Civil Power.” Beyond what one Founder says, what must be remembered is that the Third and Second Amendments were really made to restrict what Dwight Eisenhower would later call the “military-industrial complex.”
Peace activist David Swason writes that to comply with the original intent of the Second Amendment, federal control over the National Guard must end and we must “regulate such state militias and police forces well, regulate their weapons well, and deny such weapons to all others and for any other use.”
You may ask: how can one push further gun regulations if 73 percent of America says the Second Amendment gives them the right to own guns? One must remember the first half of the Second Amendment which many people seem to ignore: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.” The question is, what does “well regulated” mean? Basically it means that states and the federal government have the right to regulate guns. Sorry, guns rights supporters, but your interpretation of this section of the amendment is incorrect.
Then, one must focus on the definition of militia. If what the Supreme Court said in 2008, is true, that it means “law-abiding, responsible citizens,” then a lot of people don’t have the right to a gun. The reason is that every day millions of Americans break at least one law (jaywalking, downloading illegal content, shoplifting, public drunkenness, etc…). If one cited, United States v. Miller then the militia would be a small group, “a body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.” Regardless of the decision you cite, the 2008 decision or the Miller case, the truth is that the Second Amendment doesn’t give average Americans the right to bear arms unless you are a law-abiding citizen which compromises no American citizen. The second part of the amendment, as the dissenters in the landmark case in 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, noted “protects only a right to possess and use firearms in connection with service in a state-organized militia.”
Only 26 percent of America according to a recent Gallup Poll wants to ban handguns but 38 percent want stricter gun laws in general, a percentage which is rising. However, a super-majority of Americans say that there should be stricter laws on the sale of firearms according to another Gallup Poll. Even more surprising is despite all of this, Americans back all of President Obama’s proposals to address gun violence in America, with support going across party lines except for the proposal to ban ten-round magazines. Finally, I firmly believe that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment since 2008 is incorrect and that only Americans who are part of a state-organized militia can have guns, not all Americans.