The Second Amendment, Will It Be Changed in Our Lifetime?

On Christmas Eve, 24 December 2012, it will have been 24 years since my mother’s funeral.  Her cause of death was the result of a gunshot to the head.  Even before the recent tragedy which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has been a focal issue in the news this year.  While many of these stories are not new, they seem to be reaching a zenith.  There are all these scenarios about “someone” taking the guns of the citizens.  Of course everyone knows that President Obama will personally come to every citizen to ask for your guns and if you refuse he will either lock you up for the rest of your life or use a personal nuclear weapon to eliminate you on the spot.  Fewer people know that the Voter Identification laws and arguments were actually intended to verify both identities and addresses to cross check with gun registration documents so that particular political party could confiscate guns to prevent challenges from first the 53 percent and once that threat was abolished they would proceed to confiscate from the next 45 percent so that only the 2 percent would have guns.

How much time we all battle this threat: 

So regardless of political ideology, everyone knows that the current elected officials and the lobbyists who control them want the guns of every citizen except for that 2 percent to which they belong.  It doesn’t matter what they say; what politician does not say what you want to hear or has the ability to say something else but make you hear only what fits your position.  I don’t know the situation at your house, but at ours one week we must stand behind our bunkers as Barack Obama pounds on the front door.  The next week, we run and take cover from Mitch McConnell as he knocks and yells out that he needs to verify our street address.  On other days, it is Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Paul Ryan, and Eric Cantor trying to gain entry.  Add in all the foreign military troops, rebel forces, and terrorists armed to the teeth, and barrage of telemarketers saying congratulations you have just won a free weapon of mass destruction along with a personal demonstration, what time will you be home to receive your prize and our free gift to you, and you wonder why people are in such denial of the obvious.  Fortunately, our Founder Fathers envisioned this struggle. Still, it baffles me that they did not write the right in the document and it was added years later as an amendment.  Anyway, your house is like mine, so you comprehend the premise of the confiscation danger today. 

Another confiscation attempt:  the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty 

I have covered this topic for several outlets during the last few months, but since it was recently brought up again by some I know well as the true threat to the right to bear arms I wanted to reiterate some of my previous thoughts.  

The number of stories regarding the confiscation of weapons, overturning of the 2nd Amendment, and so on, based upon the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty in the works appears to be a continuing topic of discussion.  You can use your favorite search engine to find multiple sources (some credible and others not so much) warning and promoting this belief, so I’m only going to link a couple purely at random as examples of the hysteria.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/will-obama-go-after-second-amendment-rights-beck-nra-head-examine-what-lies-ahead/

http://beforeitsnews.com/survival/2012/11/obamas-gun-ban-list-is-out-here-it-is-folks-and-it-is-bad-news-2451190.html

These assertions have absolutely no merit.

A)  Per the draft preamble, it is written “Reaffirming the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems,”

http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/CONF.217/CRP.1&Lang=E

B)  Much of the fear publicity may be intensified by H. Resolution 814 proposed by the Honorable Mike Kelly (PA)

Kelly’s memo:  http://kelly.house.gov/press-release/rep-kelly-introduces-resolution-protect-second-amendment-rights-un-arms-trade-treaty

The Resolution Text:  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:1:./temp/~c112Q6NZ3I::

Now, you may want to reply with Louisianaboy, you are a naïve SOB, a tool, a fool, and anything else for not taking this “threat” seriously.  Look at all the media reports and all the cosponsors, where there is smoke there must be fire, and so on. 

Straight simplicity 

Here’s the thing though that these Members of the House, who I might add seem to care more about this UN Treaty discussion which will resume in March 2013 than they are about the “fiscal cliff” and other issues here in 2012, for whatever reason fail to have any understanding of history.  The same applies to those propagating this hysteria.  One does not even need a basic understanding of the UN and the differences between the General Assembly and Security Council and permanent membership on the Security Council to realize these Second Amendment threats have no merit.  Even if said Treaty were passed by the UN, ratified by the Senate, or even if the ratification process in the US were in fact circumvented as some reports argue will be done, according to US law and precedent it has no jurisdiction in the United States.  That’s more basic than Remedial American History 1A.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0354_0001_ZO.html

In Reid v. Covert, the Supreme Court determined “the Constitution supersedes international treaties.”  Unless there is going to be a proposal for a new amendment to the Constitution of the United States which must be ratified by the states, where the Second Amendment to the Constitution is declared null and void, the Second Amendment will be the law of the land regardless of if you are registered as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, too young to register, decline to register, or whatever, applies whether someone likes it or not. 

OK, enough about the 2nd Amendment, are you liberal or conservative on the issue of guns? 

Now I realize that in today’s United States, many have this insatiable need to make everything Democrat versus Republican or better yet, Liberal versus Conservative.  Every semester the number of students who ask “which is the conservative opinion” on issues so that they can then argue for or against a particular position increases.  Few can define the terms, but they know that they want to either belong or not belong to one group or the other. 

Well what are you LAB

That being one of the ultimate issues today on whether you receive blind support of credibility from one side or the other, let me state my personal belief so that I can be properly labeled.  I have no problems with guns.  They are a tool, albeit a tool which can inflict deadly force, just as any other tool.  How the tool is used and the individual using the tool mean a lot.  Now, I am not a hunter even though I would guess that at least 75 percent of the people I call friends are at minimum casual and most likely avid hunters.  While I was growing up, I simply preferred a fishing rod, cast net, or catching shrimp, crawfish, or crabs, more than hunting.  Honestly, climbing a tree and waiting on a deer in the cold, trying to pick squirrels out of trees, and so on were less appealing to me than being out in the same cold holding a fishing pole with no bites or pulling up nets or traps with no seafood caught.  Even more important, I prefer to eat shrimp, catfish, crawfish, trout, and so on more so than venison, rabbit, or squirrel brains.  Now given the choice of squirrel brains or oysters, I would eat the brains.  Honestly, I would eat practically anything than an oyster whether raw (they slid down and stayed down) or fried (still not palatable to me).  Admittedly, though, there was a .22 rifle or 20 gauge shotgun in the boat or a 9mm (a few occasions a 357) holstered as I tended to encounter my fair share of cottonmouths in the fresh water pursuits, and once after a day of shrimping in the Gulf found a cottonmouth waiting at the dock and a copperhead which I nearly stepped on carrying an ice chest to the truck.

Are you avoiding the question? 

Therefore, I can say that I have no issues with private ownership of guns.  Tragedies can happen; I’ve known people who have lost their lives via total accidents, as a result of violence, and just being careless.  Not all resulted from firearms, but all the losses still hurt the surviving friends and family the same.  I believe that knowledge and continuing reminders are the best methods there.  I do, however, have reservations about carry permits.  I often read or hear the arguments that if a “good guy” had a weapon then the “bad guy” could have been stopped before others were hurt.  That sounds great in theory, but in the reality, the chaos of such an event, would that “good person” limit or create more danger?  Putting armed guards in public schools may look good on paper, but would it necessarily deter someone who has no concern?  What if someone overpowered that guard and used that weapon to shoot a student or staff member?  What if that armed guard, for whatever reason, became the perpetrator?  Areas and structures with an array of security and weapons have been breached, so while an armed guard might make it appear safer have the real issues been addressed?

LAB, you just don’t get it do you? 

I have a friend that is a top shot and has won many competitions with a variety of handguns and rifles.  Still, he is a sharpshooter at targets in a controlled environment.  At times when hunting, he has missed his target and at times has said that he just got so excited that he was unable to pull the trigger.  A highly decorated combat veteran of many tours who went into law enforcement upon retirement from the military told me that even he never realized until it happened that there is a vast difference between being under fire in combat versus facing a gun wielding suspect as a civilian law enforcement officer.  From a man awarded medals (awards to which he never found any pride in) for taking out hostiles in combat, being shot during 2 of combat tours, being shot while taking out a perpetrator in a hostage situation, and being fired upon after rolling on an assault in progress, the acknowledgement of the differences are significant to me.  I would not have thought any differently, but having never experienced it could lead to some doubt.  From someone that you regard as a mentor and who has been there and done that on multiple occasions, there is no doubt in my mind of the role of time and environment. 

So you want my gun right? 

In my opinion, more guns are not the solution.  Are fewer guns the solution?  My opinion is the same.  Statistically if the number of guns were reduced there would most likely be a reduction in the number of gun related injuries and fatalities.  That’s the same as if you have 100 cars on a strip of highway versus 10 cars on that same strip of highway the chance for an accident is greater with the denser population of 100 versus 10.  Still, it only takes 1 of the 10 to cause damage just as it would only take 1 of the 100 to cause damage.  To me it really doesn’t matter if 1 percent in the case of 100 or 10 percent in the case of 1 out of 10.  If I am the one damaged, the damage is the same regardless of number spins. 

Fareed Zakaria makes a reasoned argument in this article.  Personally, I interpret the article in the same manner as my example above.  Reduction will eliminate a portion of potentials, but reduction or even elimination is not the solution.  I wish it were that simple.  What scares me, however, are the responses written in the comments to the article.  I do not see any threats proposed by Mr. Zakaria, but apparently many of the responders perceive a threat.  Hence, their response to that perceived threat is a threat from them.  I’ll have a little more to say on this point near the conclusion. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-the-solution-to-gun-violence-is-clear/2012/12/19/110a6f82-4a15-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html 

Oops I forgot, are you liberal or conservative about the 2nd Amendment? 

Huh?  It doesn’t matter.  Please try to understand that everything cannot be labeled.  I’m not familiar with all the gun permit laws in the various states, but personally I have not experienced a process that I thought was too strict.  I have seen some processes that were no more than a wink of an eye which I think is too lenient.

I do feel that anyone who receives a hunting license should have some hunter safety training and anyone receiving a permit should have safety training as well.  Similar to many licenses, I feel that a basic understanding and proficiency be demonstrated upon the initial receipt and subsequent renewals of said licenses.  Details of such I won’t include in my opinion, but as an example when I was in junior high, every student had a two week hunter and weapons safety course.  While it contained nothing new for most kids that age living in a rural community, it was a reminder of dangers and necessary precautions which is beneficial.  Likewise, I do not feel that waiting or processing periods between purchase and receipt of a gun are unreasonable.  I feel that so-called “gun show loopholes” need to be closed.  I don’t remember the name of the organization or even if it was the same one, but I used to attend gun and knife shows held at the Centroplex in Baton Rouge and even a couple at the Superdome.  The commercial advertisements had this attractive girl who closed with an expression, sure as shooting; I’ll probably see you there.  I never saw her, never purchased a gun at a show, but I did buy an incredible fillet knife when I was an undergrad that lasted for years and a boomerang back when I was in junior high which on occasion did return to me on the headland when I threw it out into the field.  As written earlier, I’m not familiar with the current laws and backgrounds checks in most states, but many that I experienced are probably a good outline from which to start today.  Like with driver’s licenses, perhaps there could be different ratings and requirements for qualifications for different types of references.  An old high school friend is a truck driver, and honestly I cannot imagine pulling some of the loads that he has.  Alternating from compact car to 4 wheel drive elevated truck is enough adjustment for me, so I certainly could not drive his rig. 

I won’t open the door by naming a specific weapon, but honestly I do not see the necessity of certain guns, clips, or magazines for hunting or sport.  You may feel otherwise, and I have heard many arguments.  Still, even those who want these weapons usually acknowledge a practical reason to not use those weapons.  The cost of ammo takes any rush they have from the gun away.  As a good friend recently told me about a trip to a target range, it was only after that he realized that in less than 5 minutes of shooting his new gun he had used over $200 in ammunition.  Suddenly, he did not appreciate the rifle as much as he had back when served in the military. 

The contradictions: 

It should not surprise anyone about how emotional any discussion of gun control becomes even when people are not aware of any recent tragedies.  It’s a strange dichotomy.  So called conservatives who wear the 2nd Amendment like banners and oppose limits or restrictions often argue for government restrictions on issues such as abortions and birth control.  Likewise, they tend to oppose government assistance for access to health care and mental care.  I think health care and mental care play a role in how someone might decide to use a weapon such as a gun.  Certain medical conditions necessitate restrictions on driver’s licenses, and a car can be just as deadly or beneficial as a gun depending on the circumstances of its usage.  Likewise, how is that unborn child better and deserve more protection than an infant or a toddler?  

So called liberals seem to argue for strict limitations under the premise that an individual is not capable of handling such power.  If that is true, then why is an individual capable of determining what is best for their own body or an unborn child?

How does that apply to the question of guns? 

I’m not advocating or arguing against abortion or pro-choice or anything like that.  I’m merely giving a situation I often think about when hearing opinions on either extreme.

Interesting…  

In thinking about the comments written in response to Mr. Zakaria, I’m reminded of two brothers I taught back in my grad school days.  Both guys had been in my class the previous semester and both excelled academically in all their courses.  After the semester when they were my students, both continued to stop by my office to talk.  I would never teach either again given my status and their majors, so there were no professional conflicts as I became friends with the brothers and on some weekends drove to their grandparent’s property to fish in the lake.  Both guys were avid outdoorsmen, and you would never see one guy fishing or doing something outside without the other nearby.  The sole exception to this team was with their prized and beloved deer dogs.  They both raised and used the same dogs, but the brothers never hunted together.  Even though I declined the invites, curiosity led me to ask the obvious question after both separately invited me along to hunt.  While the words of their answers differed, the basic tone was the same.  My brother is my best friend, I love the guy, but I don’t want to be anywhere near him when he has a gun because you never know where he is aiming. 

Let’s think about that.  

You and I have the same rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  So do our friends and neighbors.  I’m not a betting man, but I would wager that every person reading this piece can think of at least one person they know quite well, probably trust with just about anything, but would be nervous or maybe terrified if he or she saw that person with a loaded gun.

We might argue that everyone should have a gun, but then we realize that someone we would be worried about has a gun.  We might argue that all guns should be banned, but then our opinion changes when a need develops to use that tool. 

On both sides of the issue, we have a lot of loud bickering.  In reality, guns will not be abolished in the United States regardless of any law or legislation proposed.  Likewise, I doubt if the majority of people reading or sharing this would feel safe if everyone from the most level headed to the emotional roller coaster to the clumsy genius to the klutz to that person standing at corner has a piece locked and loaded.  Yes, we might feel safer if we had the only weapon or if it was someone we knew, but would that always be the case for those we do not. 

In spite of what we hear from the loudest on both sides of the argument, I think most people will ultimately conclude that there are no simple answers here because we are not talking about a single problem.  For a true solution, each and every problem will need to be addressed and people will need to work together to formulate the solutions.  Sadly, I think that for every solution discovered, we might discover an additional problem which requires solving as well. 

My thoughts and prayers go out those at Sandy Hook and to all others who have experienced losses regardless of the cause.  Whatever the reason for the injury or death, the hurt for the survivors is still tough.  I doubt if the victim feels differently either. 

Please feel free to comment or share.  We might not agree on methods or ideas, but hopefully we can agree on just wanting to make the world safer and just a little bit better for everyone.  Just like a pebble dropped into the sea of a distant hemisphere, one act of random kindness may create a tidal wave of goodwill far beyond our own vision.

Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy Holidays to all, and a reminder to my Mom that gone does not mean forgotten no matter the number of years.

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