The Second Amendment vs Mass Shootings

Before I started writing novels and screenplays, I was a journalist, working for a few regional and national publications. At the regional level, I wrote two newspaper columns, one humorous and one general. At that second gig, I could write anything I wanted, oh bless that editor’s heart who let me do that! Often those columns were opinion-based, and when major things happened in the world, or even my corner of the world, I’d write about it. That was one way to process events, big and exciting, or big and tragic. It was much like journaling, except I put it out there for everyone to read.

It’s hard to break that inclination, which is why I write opinion pieces here now and then; and here comes another one. Right after this cute meme that a friend sent me.

Like that kitty, I prefer bubbles to thoughts about the report of a shooting at a shopping mall in Omaha NE on Saturday. I used to shop at that mall, and I know lots of people in the city. Yikes! That violent event came just days after the mass shooting on Thursday evening in Indiana at a FedEx facility. Then on Sunday, three people were killed in Austin. That wasn’t a random mass-shooting according to news reports. Rather, someone who thought settling a domestic dispute was best done with a gun. But still…

As one of my Twitter friends said, “sending thoughts and prayers” is not enough of a response to what has been happening for too long in our cities and on our streets.

Let me say this loud and clear, for at least the hundredth time I’ve done so on the blog, WE NEED STRICTER GUN SAFETY MEASURES.

Before you get your Second-Amendment panties all in a wad over this, let’s all take a breath, and maybe a sip of something bubbly, and step back to consider the wordage of the Amendment. What it meant back when it was written, and what it means today.

“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.”

That was written in 1789 when the U.S. was just forming as a new country, and the founding fathers saw fit to make constitutional provisions to allow citizens to have guns for their own safety and to support a well-regulated militia. From the earliest Colonial times, men banded together in unofficial militias for mutual safety, and the militias were organized as the National Guard in 1636 to to support the army in protecting early colonists from any threat. Thus making them well-regulated. (See a pattern developing here?) During the American Revolution, those men were called upon to fight against the British and protect communities throughout the newly forming country.

Again, in reading the 2nd Amendment, take note of the wordage “A well-regulated Militia.” Hence, the trained men and women of the National Guard. Not your neighbor, unless he or she is in the Guard. Not the person on the mountain proclaiming that he or she doesn’t have to answer to government. And God help us if that person is a member of the Guard. Not the person who takes a gun into a school just for kicks. Not the person who kills a bunch of people because he’s mad at his ex-wife. Not a disgruntled former employee who takes his frustration out on his fellow workers.

In an article on the site Interactive Constitution, legal scholars Nelson Lund and Adam Winkler offer this interpretation of the Second Amendment, “Many in the Founding generation believed that governments are prone to use soldiers to oppress the people. English history suggested that this risk could be controlled by permitting the government to raise armies (consisting of full-time paid troops) only when needed to fight foreign adversaries. For other purposes, such as responding to sudden invasions or other emergencies, the government could rely on a militia that consisted of ordinary civilians who supplied their own weapons and received some part-time, unpaid military training.”

This dichotomy between whether the Guard/Militia is an adjunct to the Army or whether the Militia is separate from the military entirely, being in place to protect citizenry from the Army, is what fuels many debates. Personally, I’m more comfortable with the thought that anyone who has an assault-style weapon be part of the military and have more training than just marksmanship. The rest of us can have our handguns and rifles for protection and hunting and sport in gun clubs.

That said, I still support stricter gun-safety regulations. People who own firearms need to be fully evaluated and deemed to be responsible gun owners. We need better, longer, more effective, background checks. Extend the waiting period for purchasing a gun until a thorough check can be made.

And, for heaven’s sake, isn’t it past time to ban assault weapons?

I can hear all the protests and arguments against that last one. And I get it. Nobody wants to give up their rights for another person. But just do a Google search for Sandy Hook School Shooting and look at pictures of those innocent children. They didn’t even have a choice when it came to losing their right to live.

Is it too much to ask for us to give up a few of our rights so children no longer have to die from a bullet and not old age?

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