Gun Control and the Constitution
Constitution of the United States - 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."
The British colonies formed a fragile union after the Revolution, legally tied through a set of weak agreements called the Articles of Confederations. These articles were too weak to for the new country to survive. More was needed. In 1787, our Founding Fathers wrote down a method of government that is still in place today. That document is called the Constitution of the United States. In its original unamended form, many elected representatives feared for the liberty and safety of their respective citizens against a mighty centralized government. Statesmen with great foresight demanded that the document spell out explicitly the liberties to be enjoyed by the citizens of the emerging nation. The first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, were added to the document prior to its final ratification as the form of government to be adopted by the new union.
Historically, tyrannical governments begin with the disarmament of the people. Unarmed, citizens would be able to overthrow a corrupt and despotic system only with the greatest of difficulty and a high cost in terms of human life. By depriving people of their weapons, a government achieves a position of absolute authority over its citizens. Being that there is generally no means by which such a government can be overthrown, the remaining rights of citizens can easily be ignored. The Founding Fathers believed that disarmament would lead to tyranny.
Most American citizens are familiar with the liberties granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We are free to practice our own religions, speak our minds, assemble in a peaceful manner, and publish our views as well as petition our government to fix problems. The Second Amendment, however, is under attack and has been under attack for quite some time. Of the Second Amendment, Thomas Jefferson had some things to say:
"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
--Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J.Boyd, Ed., 1950)
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
--Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria
Negation of the liberties accorded by the Second Amendment are usually sought based on the large number of deaths resulting from homocides and accidental shootings that occur when, for example, a child is able to access a weapon while adults are not looking. Last year, about ten thousand Americans were murded by someone wielding a firearm. Ten thousand! Homocide by firearm is among the leading causes of death for Americans. The concerns of those who wish to limit the Second Amendment's scope are real and cannot reasonably be trivialized.
Those of you who wish to see these deaths minimized might be inclined to call for the banning of personal firearms or at least see about making it harder for them to obtain. I want you to think about something. We have tried this strategy at various times and in various ways. During the 1920's, the sale of alcohol was prohibited. The net result: alcohol use and abuse increased. Violent crime increased, and gangsters like Al Capone made huge profits at the cost of much human life and human misery.
The United States governement has been conducting a war on drugs for many years. To say that this war is a failure is an understatement. The war on drugs is a disaster. Our prisons are filled to the brim with its victims, political prisoners who are incarcerated as a result of bad policy. We also know as citizens of an officially intolerant society that the war on drugs has done nothing to stem the flow of intoxicants. There are likely several people on this email list for whom marijuana or other "controlled" substances play a significant role in their daily lives. If you are one such person, you are poignantly aware that marijuana prohibitions don't do jack shit to interrupt the flow of the Devil Weed excepting that traffic is ocassionally interrupted for brief periods of time while you are finding a new dealer because your usual one is laying low until things blow over, and that only applies to those of you who are not sufficiently committed to have a backup dealer.
Those of you who have participated in the economy of the black market for pleasure will have little trouble understanding the quandry of banning guns. You are aware of how easy it is to create an underground marketplace and hide the business from the authorities. You know that whatever is in demand will be sold and purchased by people regardless of the presence of absence of laws. Those of you who have ever purchased controlled substances at an early age know that drug dealers don't check IDs. They don't care if you are under twenty-one years of age because you speak with the voice that makes everyone equal in the eyes of business: money. Underground gun dealers won't perform criminal background checks. I guarantee that. I also guarantee the following: if private ownership of firearms is prohibited, it will be easier for convicted felons to obtain firearms than it is right now. The underground market will explode, and nobody will be checking up on anybody.
If you are under the age of twenty-one, it is quite likely that you will find it easier to obtain marijuana or some other controlled substance through your own devices than it is for you to obtain alcohol through your own devices. In order to acquire alcohol, proper identification is required along with meeting the requirement that one has reached the legal age prescribed by the state. Black-market profiteers never check the identifications of their clients. I believe that it is a matter of federal law (or at least the law of most states) that the purchaser of a handgun be at least twenty-one years of age. If this market is forced underground, we will see many more youths bearing weapons for which they have not achieved sufficient maturity to properly wield.
I am asking you to think hard about the consequences of abolishing the right to bear arms in a free society. Will you really feel safer in your own home when the only people allowed to bear arms are the police and the military? If you think you would, I think you are gullible. Will you feel safe when you are unarmed, the Gestappo cop at your door is armed, and the person intruding into your home is wielding a .38 special purchased on the black market? I will feel safe, but I will be armed, law or no law. We will only need to use the Second Amendment against our government when they try to take it away from us. Don't let them take it away.
But what about all those homocides? Well, I have some good news for you. Violent crimes in all categories, including murder, have been going down in the United States for eight consecutive years. We are becoming, of our own accord, a calmer, more mature, and less violent society. We are learning to abhor violence. We are learning that violence and murder do not constitute reasonable solutions to our problems. We are making the world better. If you are really concerned about all of those homocides, start making the world a better place by spreading your love and light everywhere you go. Together, we can create a society in which far fewer people ever even consider committing an act of murder. Firearms can be used to kill, but it requires human intention to aim the weapon and pull the trigger. Let's undermine those intentions by striving to make the world a great place to live for everyone on it. Get yourself a case of warm fuzzies and start handing them out. Don't worry about running out. They will always come back to you. I have a closet full of them in case you need any.
What follows was forwarded to me and served as the inspiration for this tirade (author unattributed):
1. An armed person is a citizen. An unarmed person is a subject.
2. A gun in the hand is better then a cop on the phone.
3. Smith & Wesson: The original point and click interface.
4. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.
5. If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?
6. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.
7. Free people do not have to ask permission to bear arms.
8. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.
9. Those who trade liberty for security have neither.
10. The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
11. What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?
12. The Second Amendment is in place in case they ignore the others.
13. 64,999,987 firearm owners killed no one yesterday.
14. Guns only have two enemies: Rust and politicians.
15. Know guns, Know peace and safety. No guns, no peace and safety.
16. You don't shoot to kill; You shoot to stay alive.
17. 911 - government sponsored Dial a Prayer.
18. Assault is a behavior, not a device.
19. Criminals love gun control - it makes their jobs safer.
20 If guns cause crime, then Matches cause Arson.
21. Only a government that is afraid of it's citizens try to control & disarm them.
22. You only have the rights you are willing to fight for.
23. Enforce the "gun control laws" in place; don't make more.
24. When you remove a persons right to bear arms, you create slaves.
25. The American Revolution would never have taken place with Gun Control.
26. ."....a government by the people, for the people....."
"We were raised up in the hallowed halls of half a million shopping malls, and there ain't any price that we're too proud to pay. We'll buy anything from Diet Sprite to one thousand points of light. I'll admit we're not that bright, but I'm proud anyway."