by James T. Murphy
The Second Amendment, although in the opinion of some political persuasions to the contrary, affords and protects the citizenry’s right to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court has said as much when interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Now at present there is an attack on the institiution itself by those who cannot otherwise get their own way, and jockey to get their own way for the future, while the gettin’ is good; but that is for another day, soon. The right to gunslinging is not at issue in this, unless of course you are a gunslinger, and that being the case, rules do not apply in any event. The debate is whether a free society should arm itself. Notwithstanding the myriad problems and tragic deaths brought about by the maurauders, desperados and fugitives from peace and security, movements prohibiting firearms to Dick and Jane are, at their core, attempts to control, a pursuit of domination over all those who would otherwise enjoy the rights to safety and security for oneself, family and ranch. This however is not to say there are no problems associated with guns, as we are all too often reminded that there are.
The American right to keep and bear arms precedes the U.S. Constitution. During the rebellion against English Rule the colonists cited the 1689 English Bill of Rights, in part enacted to counter the disarming of Protestants by the Roman Catholic King James II, as precedent for free people to defend themselves. And why is it that religion always seems to be at the heart of so much irreligious behavior? Here too, this will be for another day. In any event the Second Amendment came into existence for a good reason, to prevent government, monarchical or otherwise, from establishing an irreversible stronghold on a populace. Fast forward from the days of the Red Coats and ponder whether we should allow Congress to be the only band of renegades with the right to lock and load. Didn’t think so.
But just as with all else, and even more so here because of devestatingly evil conduct, constantly, and almost daily evidenced, there are negatives, in this case intolerable, unacceptable life ending negatives. It is not however for lack of authoritative pronouncement that the evil continues, for who but a fanatic would embrace, worse yet participate in such iniquity?
In the most recent iteration on the subject, the Supremes ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the right to keep and carry arms is not, as those who would collect all the guns say, “contingent on service in a militia”. But the Court did, and rightfully of course, recognize the states’ rights to restrictions, including keeping the hardware out of the clutches of felons and the mentally ill, or the carrying of arms in sensitive locations, like schools, churchs and the workplace, to name a few, and further, authorizing suitable schemes to control the sale of the equipage. It bears mentioning that a majority of the Congress at the time supported the right to bear arms.
All well and good. Now try and get what we expect, andseemingly can only hope to see, reasonable minds agreeing on a blueprint that incorporates these and other highly judicious safeguards. And that seems to be the problem here. In the words of one most peaceful soul, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle” than to find enough reasonable minds dwelling in the legislative halls of America. But political mindsets are one thing, going to school or work in the morning and not returning is another. As a people, America must insist, and this goes for the hardened pistol packers all the way to the most ardent gun control somebodys, that legislatures, and particularly Congress, resolve this shameful situation and proceed to codify and enact a system that both controls those who would lose all control, while protecting those who’s aim it is to protect. The failure of Congress to have effectively dealt with this is not because of Trump, or Bush or Clinton or any other First Chair really, present day company included. It is because of a present congressional unwillingness to stand up and face the hard choices, underwritten by an angst of protecting one’s own position and paycheck, which in turn is empowered by an insufficently aroused electorate.
Recent comments by the Biden Administration, although worthwhile, are, as in all past administrations, piecemeal. A full and complete national scheme is required and necessary. So-called “red flag” laws, i.e. temporarily banning certain individuals identified as dangerous, usually for reasons of mental instability, from possessing firearms until a court can rule, efforts to prevent “ghost guns”, weapons made at home with high tech equipment, and longer and universal waiting periods for all gun purchases, are all good steps, but they do not speak to a national resolve to solve. Nor is the dilema impossible of solution, but so long as both sides of the issue refuse to compromise meaningfully, America will continue to bathe itself in the blood of innocents, from Sandy Hook, Connecticut to Orange, California, with stops along the way in atlanta, Georgia, Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado. In other words, from sea to bloody sea.
At this writing, there have been 147 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year. As a nation, the U.S. has the 28th highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world; hardly an example of freeworld leadership. The “fers” need to recognize a balance between the right of humans to protect themselves from things that unlawfully threaten safety and security, and the unfettered possession of arsenals of destruction. The “agins” need to understand that rejecting the justifiable in furtherance of a policy which rubs against an obvious freedom, only succeeds in nothing less than the constant death and destruction wrought by this gridlock. Where are the Congressional leaders with enough wisdom to craft measures effective to end the carnage? When will they arise and take control? What amount of slaughter will it take?