A little perspective please!
©Photo by Bonnie J. Schupp
Before I begin, let me make clear that I believe we should keep the Second Amendment and that we should not take away everyone’s guns. I have fired guns for target practice maybe two or three times during my 68 years…guns that belonged to other people. I do not own one but there are guns in the homes of both of my daughters.
Now, let us put some things in perspective with just a few of many possible points to make. I realize these suggestions are simplistic and that they would require much more complexity in implementation:
- Staunch Second Amendment supporters believe we should not mess with the Second Amendment at all. They claim it is sacrosanct. Many believe that we should put absolutely no conditions and no restrictions on gun ownership. It is interesting to note that when the Second Amendment was written in 1791, we were still fighting the Indians (Native Americans) in our country. (See history notes at end) We have now reached a point in our history where we need to determine restrictions for gun ownership and use.
- We need to first of all to consider what is best for the good of all. Should we forget all restrictions for the sake of gun owners in this country or do we take into account all the lives lost because of guns? Although we can never eradicate gun deaths, there must be something we can do to at least reduce the number of deaths caused by guns (and the number of mentally unbalanced people who pull the trigger in mass killings).
- We have a right to own a car, but with certain restrictions. We need to take a driving test, get a license and buy insurance. We must use seat belts in our cars and helmets while riding our motorcycles. We get tickets if we park our cars improperly. We get tickets if we speed or go through red lights. We cannot drive the wrong way on a one-way street.
- Some argue that we cannot ban even certain types of guns because they are already in use among a large part of the population and it would be impossible. And why not? This did not make a difference when it was discovered that asthma inhalers were harming the environment…just a tiny bit. As of December 31, 2008, no CFC-propelled inhalers could be produced, marketed or sold in this country.
- Some argue that we are over-reacting to several sensational news events and that we do not need to change laws because of these isolated events by a few mentally unstable people. However, it seems to make no sense that we do not act quickly to reduce gun deaths but we were quick to react to violence perpetrated by some people from highway overpasses. Now we see fencing/barriers on overpasses that make it difficult for people to throw rocks down at cars passing by below.
- Some argue that it is unfair to restrict law-abiding citizens because of a few crazy people. Yes, but consider that we must take off our shoes when going through airport security. Consider that the open liquids we are allowed at this point are restricted. Consider that I must go through a body scan every time I fly because I have an artificial knee. Not even a note from my doctor will excuse me. At a German airport, I was even given a hard time for my liquid lipstick! Ask me if I like this. Of course not! But I also do not want to die from a terrorist attack on an airplane.
Here are my suggestions
All U.S. citizens have a right to own a gun but with these restrictions:
- Ban all assault and semi-assault weapons. No ordinary citizen needs this–military use yes but ordinary citizens no.
- Those assault weapons in homes now cannot be passed on to anyone after the owner’s death.
- Make is mandatory to store weapons in a locked cabinet. (Yeah, I know…there are logistical concerns here but there are many accidental deaths caused by children who get their hands on their parents’ guns.)
- Make it a mandatory prison sentence and large fine for parents whose children somehow gain access to their parents’ guns. (Obviously, this mandatory sentence would be for parents not killed by their children.)
- Limit the size of clips so it will be more difficult to kill in great numbers.
- Regulate the sale of ammunition itself. I have to sign when I pick up my medical prescriptions.
- All gun sales should require a background check using a national database. (Much work to be done here.)
Times have changed since the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791. Perhaps some modifications need to be made.
- In 1791 more than 200 years ago, the Second Amendment was ratified long before our more civilized and fair social society was established. We were in the Wild West era.
- In 1791 Rhode Island became the 13thstate.
- In 1791 women were not allowed to vote.
- In 1791 white people owned African slaves.
- In 1791 we had written the Declaration of Independence not even 20 years before.
- In 1790 the first U.S. census count included slaves and free African-Americans but not Native Americans.
- In 1791 a lawless frontier existed in some parts of the country where people had many protection issues in their daily lives.
- In 1850 California became the 31ststate.
- In 1871 the NRA was founded.
- In 1791 the “arms” we had a right to bear were less powerful than today’s weapons:
- In 1791 guns were single-shot muskets loaded with powder and ball for each shot.
- In 1791 guns were made by gunsmiths and had rudimentary rifling.
- In 1791 guns were single-shot weapons loaded through the muzzle and fired by means of a flintlock.
- In 1791 guns did not have interchangeable parts (1798) and were not revolvers (1835).
- In 1791 guns were not breach loaded (1810) and did not use smokeless powder (1885).
- In 1791 guns did not load bullets from a clip (1890).
Recent study: Firearm Deaths Lower Where Gun Laws Strong (inconclusive cause-effect relationship but worth further investigation)