Each time we have another mass shooting the Second Amendment debate is upfront again. The liberal left calls for more control of guns and conservatives cry for preservation of their right to own a gun and indeed encourage citizens to carry a gun to help prevent future shootings.
I have long maintained that the words of the Second Amendment don’t say what those who extract selected words from the document say it does. And further that it cannot be read without careful consideration of the times in which it was written and the then current concerns of the leaders and citizens.
Amendment II (2): Right to bear arms
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.
Amendment III (3): Housing of soldiers
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
If James Madison had written just “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” it would be clear, but instead he saw fit to explain the context of this right. When I was in the national guard many years ago I was given a gun; it was kept in the armory. When I stood on the streets of Newark during riots I was given a gun and later it was placed back in the armory. When I was in the army I was given a weapon when necessary and then it was locked up. That is a well regulated militia! 1789 was a different time; only a few years after the Revolutionary War and when America still had no standing federal army and a distrust of a strong central government.
Now focus on Amendment III. Is it relevant today? Does anyone even think about it? Where are soldiers housed today? The 3rd amendment was written in the same context as the 2nd and yet we choose to extract only a few words from the 2nd amendment and use them to justify what may be the largest aresenal of weapons the world has ever seen among a population – reportedly 320 million weapons in the hands of US civilians.
We’re it not for the manipulation of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” we might be a different society today. If we did not have such an appetite for guns, even the illegal trade could not thrive. Why this obsession with guns among so many?
I hear some on the fringe (I hope) need guns to protect themselves from a federal government out of control, others need protection from other citizens who have guns, still others want to hunt or target shoot and of course, the new call will be protection against terrorists.
The following position by the NRA borders on paranoia in my opinion. Why does the NRA not want government to know a person has a gun?
NRA opposes expanding background check systems at the federal or state level. Studies by the federal government show that people sent to state prison because of gun crimes typically get guns through theft, on the black market, or from family members or friends, and nearly half of illegally trafficked firearms originate with straw purchasers—people who can pass background checks, who buy guns for criminals on the sly. No amount of background checks can stop these criminals.
NRA also opposes gun registration. Expanding background check systems and allowing records to be kept on people who pass background checks to acquire guns would be steps toward transforming NICS into the national gun registry that gun control supporters have wanted for more than a hundred years. Source: NRA Website
Why is it important for Americans to own firearms? Do we truly fear our government? Do we fear our neighbors? Why are Americans so different from other societies? You would think based on history Germans and Italians would be armed in fear of government more than us.
So, even if you believe that the second amendment does provide the unrestricted right to own a gun, why is that so important?
No, registering all guns and requiring a license for all guns will not stop all mass killing, but it may get people to think twice, may avoid easy access for a disturbed person and perhaps gradually change our culture a bit. The real issue is why we are obsessed with guns?