From Sandy Hook to Columbine to thousands of movie theaters across the nation showing the newer and crazier Batman movies, Americans need a good lawyer when it comes to understanding the second amendment of their constitution.
So. Exactly why is the second amendment so hotly contested?
First, let’s take a look at the amendment itself… Let’s see why this is so hard to understand…
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.
There she is. Shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. Why does the right to bear arms incite such controversy? Are guns a good thing or a bad thing? Do we need to totally disarm the mentally unstable psychopaths? Is government trying to steal your gun from under your pillow?
Allow me. I’ll explain gun control. Let’s examine both arguments.
The Gun Control Lobby:
Picking apart of the language itself, we would need a time machine to be able to understand the concerns of the founders themselves. Which, considering my last name isn’t either ‘Brown’ or ‘McFly’, we’ll just have to go with the fairly obvious and draw conclusions from there.
The founders feared a couple things.
In the life and times of 1780 America, bruises still fresh from the Revolutionary War, the founders were afraid that the British would roll back up on the shores of Delaware for Round Two of ‘Fight Night In America’ (which, they did in the War of 1812) and they understood that this whole ‘United States of America’ concept was held together with about as strong of a bond as the bond between the duct tape and my Swiffer mop handle. The founders were afraid that a federal entity would anger certain states and dictating rules such as slavery (think of the Three-Fifths Compromise) may incite a Civil War (which, also happened) one day.
The founders understood that ‘being necessary to the security of a free state’ maybe gun ownership might not be a bad thing.
Point being, the federal United States army of 1780 was basically 5-6 guys holding rocks with sling shots and there was a very rational concern that Virginia was thinking seriously about a full invasion of Massachusetts. It made sense to say that Virginians weren’t allowed to unilaterally disarm Pennsylvanians or vice versa. Domestic and foreign, civilians being capable of ‘a well regulated militia’ made total sense at the time.
Just saying. I don’t think Thomas Jefferson was talking about Steve McKenna’s unalienable right to own six AR-15s with night vision / deep-range scopes and optional grenade launcher attachments in suburban Kansas circa 2013.
Simply put, the times of Thomas Jefferson don’t exist anymore.
In those times, it was barely possible to fire two consecutive (poorly aimed) scatter-shots without taking a 15 minute break to disassemble and reassemble your entire weapon while fashioning a new bullet. Grenade launchers, Hellfire missiles, RPGs, and IEDs were not part of Benjamin Franklin’s vocabulary. The ramifications couldn’t have possibly been understood.
Which, while we’re on the topic, let’s put this ‘gun ownership is an unalienable right’ puppy to sleep. You can definitely alienate yourself from your right to own a gun, just like you can alienate yourself from your right to vote or drive a car. No one comes sliding out of their mother into the world and asks for their official American initiation badge, the most recent ballot to the next upcoming primary, and a complimentary six-shooter.
Owning guns – just like owning a voter’s registration card or a BMW – is a privilege. If you run enough stop signs and commit enough felonies, certain privileges can and will be taken away from you against your will.
However, when you run that stop sign into the liquor store that you just robbed because you’re too busy unloading the clip to your MAC-11 and the police come to arrest you, you still retain your unalienable right to tell them that you don’t think any of it was your fault.
The right to free speech.
Ah. We’re getting somewhere. I have a right to free speech – not hollow tips. Got it.
We can legislate who drives cars and who is allowed to buy alcohol. If we can take away my right to do imperative things like voting, we can certainly regulate who’s allowed to buy that pesky MAC-11.
Lastly, while we’re at it, let’s bust one more pro-gun myth.
Heavy-handed punishments are a deterrent of crime and violence. Myth.
In other words, if I’m considering robbing a liquor store, the notion of the man behind the counter shooting me back is a deterrent. This also applies to the death penalty being a deterrent for murder.
To examine this, we drift over to the great state of Texas. The state awash with super cool six-shooters and the state that setup an express lane to the electric chair. No matter what, in Texas, if enough credible witnesses see you do what you did, you’re going to meet your maker sooner rather than later.
So. Does it deter crime?
15 of all the 43 convicts put to death in the United States came from Texas. That’s 34% of the nation’s death penalties carried out happening in one state. Where does Texas rank with violent crimes? Above the national average, for sure, Texas is 15th highest in the country.
And it’s not just an anomaly with Texas. States without the death penalty have shared lower homicide rates consistently dating back to 1990.
Besides, something tells me that someone willing to blast away in a movie theater full of people isn’t necessarily concerned with ‘illegal’ and is probably beyond punishment. Obviously, this is why we see attempted suicides at the end of the worst crimes imaginable.
So, if we wake up one day and decide guns are bad, we can certainly outlaw guns and gun ownership. We’d be a safer and wiser bunch for the decision. All the statistics about gun violence. Yuck. Guns do nothing but hurt people and end lives. Outlaw guns. I mean, right?!
Well… No. That’s an incredibly dumb idea that would put more people in danger and assist in the ruination of society. Outlawing guns would assist in making poverty more permanent, take unnecessary innocent lives, and definitively make life more difficult for the poor.
The Gun Rights Lobby:
Put it simply. You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube. It’s too late. For better or worse, guns are here to stay.
More than that, when we explain the concept of ‘prior restraint’ to everyone, you can very easily argue that our country was actually built and modeled on the notion of freedom, liberty, and (most importantly) freedom of choice.
Example. If you think the ‘prior restraint’ used to outlaw marijuana is in any way or at all effective, let’s go ahead and try to outlaw something which is already legal in all 50 states and readily available in the sporting department at most Wal-Marts.
Yeah. That’ll work. We’ll never see another gun again for as long as we live.
Now, let’s explain ‘prior restraint’ in a practical sense. As a country, we’re really good in some ways / really bad in others.
We’re good about speech and religion. Even though I could say some really dangerous things, I’m still allowed to. I could teach about communism and fascism and (even worse) get people to actually follow me. I can practice any religion I want, even the ones that don’t make a lick of sense or ask for my hard-earned money. Even though some religions and ideas can control your life forever and even effect a violent revolution… We don’t outlaw my speech in prior restraint. I could practice some fundamental Islam while cursing out the Pope in a non-violent anti-war protest. As long as I don’t hurt anyone else in the process, I will never get arrested for my ‘dangerous’ life-altering ideas or notions for salvation.
And even if I do, the courts will settle it out fair and square.
Important to note. Just because I think my neighbor down the road should be allowed to practice Buddhism, that doesn’t mean I personally endorse Buddhism.
In other areas, we use ‘prior restraint’ pretty badly. Prohibition was probably our most famous and worse example of using ‘prior restraint’ in laws.
We can’t let you drink booze. Temperance is the way of living correctly. If you drink alcohol, you’ll form habits and become an alcoholic. You’ll abandon your job and be more inclined to hit your wife. The family is who it hurts the worst. We’re doing this for the good of society!! If nobody drank alcohol, we would be downright utopian and less people would get hurt from the ravages of alcohol abuse.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read your history books on Prohibition but, people still drank. Like, people drank a lot. It was a lot of fun for them. Not only that, because it was an illegal substance, Prohibition created a highly-lucrative illegal market for booze. Quality plummeted because alcohol was no longer made in a controlled setting. You had people falling over backwards in speak-easies due to yet another bad batch of bathtub gin. Price went through the roof. Criminalization ensued, people going to prison for non-violent crimes who were now likely to return back to prison. And of course, these crimes are always committed in the worst neighborhoods that need the fast money the most and were already accustomed to violence. Which, by the way, violence skyrocketed because of all the above.
The prohibition of alcohol was obviously repealed because it hurt more people than it helped.
Modern day prohibitions include ‘prior restraints’ on drugs and certain foods. None of which are effective; all of which hurt the lives of those they’re ironically intended to protect.
We can’t let you take heroin. Clean living is the way of living correctly. If you did heroin, you’ll form habits and become an drug addict. You’ll abandon your job and be more inclined to leave your wife. The family is who hurts the worst. We’re doing this for the good of society!! If nobody did heroin, we would be closer to utopia and less people would get hurt from the ravages of drug abuse.
Now, I’m not advocating drug use, especially heroin use. I’ve never done heroin in my life and I despise to see what that drug does to people. It’s absolutely awful. I wouldn’t recommend heroin use to my worst enemy.
Still. You’re absolutely out of your mind if you don’t think I (or anyone else) could score some dope with $20 and a good pair of walking shoes.
Think of the highly-lucrative and wildly illegal market created by heroin. Think of all the violence generated in the poorest communities that need the fast money the most. Of course, since heroin cannot be made in a controlled environment, think of all the first-time users who keeled over in a hospital because another bad batch of black tar.
Just because I don’t believe in the ‘prior restraint’ of heroin, that doesn’t mean I personally endorse heroin use.
To get back on topic, if you’re one of those folks that want to federally ban handguns, we have multiple examples on how that sort of ‘prior restraint’ actually pans out.
We can’t let you have guns. Peace is the way of living correctly. You could rob stores and turn to a life of crime. If you owned a gun, you’re more likely to kill a family member. The family is who hurts the worst. We’re doing this for the good of society!! If nobody owned a gun, we would be closer to utopia and less people would get hurt from the ravages of gun violence.
Just because I don’t believe in the ‘prior restraint’ of guns, that doesn’t mean I personally endorse gun ownership.
The only thing more offensive than the consequences and high cost of outlawing some or all guns would be how brazenly ineffective the laws would be.
So… What now?!?
People on both sides of this issue aren’t going to be happy with my conclusion. It doesn’t conclude that either guns are good or that guns are bad. Which, I know it seems like more of a inconclusive conclusion.
However, the middle-ground is exactly what the issue needs. Accentuate the positive.
There are people out there who believe in heroin use medicinally or heroin use for intense religious experiences. Who are you to tell someone what brings them closer to their salvation and what doesn’t? They’re not hurting anyone, except maybe themselves. There may be a mother who had their son killed by a drunk driver who opposes alcohol use. However, I’ve been known to have a beer every single weekend.
I like to think. I like to read. I fight to the death for my freedom of speech and my freedom to find my salvation in whatever religious vehicle I choose – even if it offends you.
Guns are no different. All I did in my ‘gun rights’ argument was explain that gun laws would be highly ineffective and a backfire to the poorest communities. We cannot and should never legislate morality. It’s impossible, anyway. Which, in my argument, I didn’t even accentuate the positive of gun culture. Guns passed from grandfather to father to son. Guns for sport and means and livelihood. Guns can define communities and adulthood in certain areas.
Then again, flip side, some would argue that assault weapons and wholly unnecessary and illogical. Executing ‘prior restraint’ needs to be used in extreme cases. In that, we can’t allow every citizen a F-16 fighter jet in their backyard.
The line needs to be drawn somewhere and where that line sits differs on where you’re standing at the moment.
There are times when we’re 50 individual states and there are times when we’re one country united.
The times when we’re one country united have been issues like slavery, segregation, women’s suffrage, and times of war. Times when we’re one country are usually bookended by absolute rights and absolute wrongs.
Gun control is not one of those issues.
Gun control laws should not be uniform across the 50 states in the same way that immigration laws shouldn’t be uniform. Gun laws in New York should be absolutely different from gun laws in Alabama.
Freedom of choice means never reaching societal perfection. It’s important to acknowledge this. The ramifications of an overreaching federal law or ignorance at a local level means the quality of life for everyone. Citizenship, morality, and humanity are not passive occupations. We must understand this and understand our privileges from our rights.
Saying ‘states rights’ on gun control isn’t a non-position. It means you’re opposed to another overreaching federal mandate that would further criminalize the poorest communities and add unnecessary crime. Flip side, ‘states rights’ also doesn’t mean you’re in favor of unlimited armories, either. It depends on where you live.
The last part. “…shall not be infringed.” – Just means it technically isn’t illegal.
You don’t have to own one if you don’t want to. The militia for the necessity of a free state simply won’t be infringed. If you want, you can sit in your basement with your firearms and wait for war time. But, you don’t have to. You don’t have to buy heroin. You don’t have to be an alcoholic mother or father. If you want, you can sit in your basement with all the destructive material you can get your hands on. You can be a bad person. But, you don’t have to. And I personally wouldn’t let my friend or my neighbor live that way, either. You can defend yourself, your state, and your country. But, I want peace. Gun control is a decision made outside the ineffective laws, outside the Congress, and outside the overzealous gun owners. Gun control is a decision made between the fear and love for your fellow neighbor.
Gun control means controlling the hearts and minds of every American. Let’s not pretend like we can legislate that.