Here is the Second Amendment in its entirety:
“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.”
Imagine the environment during the days when the Bill of Rights was being written. We had just won our independence from the British through the efforts of an amateur army. We had no standing army, nor the money to fund one if we needed it. Furthermore, we were afraid we’d have to fight the British again (that happened). Now reread the Second Amendment.
It is rather clear that the focus was on having men ready to fight a war (a militia) and that it was their job to fund their own equipment. That is to say, the key point is not about stiff-arming an intrusive or abusive United States government; it is about national defense being handled by amateurs armed with their own muskets.
Times have changed and we now have a standing army. There is no national defense reason for civilians to be ready to serve in a militia or to have their own muskets. Billy Bob may think that the arsenal in his basement is his protection against an abusive government, but he’s going to have a really bad day when it’s learned that he’s been conspiring to do something nefarious to make his voice heard, like the bombing at the Boston Marathon or the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, both done by American terrorists. The ATF guys and the FBI will arrive at his door with enormous firepower and his AR-15 and illegal Browning automatic rifle won’t be of much value to him. So much for household defense by firearms against an abusive government.
That pesky “shall not infringe” business – does that mean that the government cannot place limits on the firearms a citizen may own? No, we as a society have decided that it does not and we already have such limits. You cannot legally own any automatic weapon. You may not legally own field artillery or an M-1 tank or a fully armed F-18 or torpedoes or Hellfire missiles or an atomic bomb. Yes, we decided long ago that the right of people to bear arms really can be limited. And that’s a good thing.
It is also an obvious thing, a real forehead slapper. The trick is getting gun stalwarts past the arrested development stage, during which they chant ceaselessly, “You can’t tell ME what to do.” Well, yeah, we can.
So, get over your testosterone rush, “cold, dead hands” rant rifle-thumper, and recognize that there really is water on the road when it rains, and we can and should place limits on the firearms any of us may own. Those limits help our six-year-olds to make it to age seven.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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