I've heard that now is not the right time to talk about gun laws, that we should grieve and allow the families of those killed in Newtown to grieve.
Trouble is, once we've begun to get over our national grief, we'll forget to have the conversation that it's too soon to have right now. We won't remember this conversation until the next massacre, when it will (again) be too soon to have the conversation.
I'm beginning to believe that there can be no better time than right now. And I'm interest in honest conversation. I'm not interested in folks regurgitating what they've seen on a liberal website or heard on a conservative talk show. Of course, if that's all you're able to say, and it's what you believe, then say it … but after you say what you have to say, then listen honestly to the response. Don't listen for a place to make your next point – listen for the truth that is being spoken by the other person.
So, here's my contribution … my seven readers should feel free to disagree, but please keep the conversation respectful.
I'm troubled, like a lot of people are, by how easy it is for almost anyone to obtain weapons that are incredibly destructive. Bear in mind, I learned to shoot before I was a teenager, and enjoy guns a great deal. I think it's ethical to hunt for food, provided it's done responsibly and within the parameters of the law. And I think it's fine, for those who feel the necessity, to keep weapons around for self-defense.
But I absolutely don't believe that it's necessary for an average and ordinary person to be able to legally obtain high-powered assault rifles and 100-round-capacity clips.
No, I'm not trying to take away anyone's constitutional rights. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is still important. But what does the Second Amendment actually say?
“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.”
The Second Amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms. And in my reading, the right to keep and bear arms is for self-protection, particularly from an authoritarian or oppressive government. Which, given the geo-political situation in the late 18th century, we can understand.
The Second Amendment seems to be designed as a guarantee that individuals and households would be able to acquire the means by which to protect themselves. The trouble, though, is that keeping guns for self-defense would preclude the necessity to keep assault weapons. See, assault weapons are not designed for self-defense, but for attack and aggression (hence the name 'assault' weapon).
The Second Amendment also ties the right of gun ownership to a well-regulated militia. From my perspective, we don't have any well-regulated militia. I know that there are militia-type groups around which seem to either operate off-the-grid and away from regulatory bodies, or are monitored by the FBI as potential hate groups.
Right now there is nothing well-regulated about any militias. I wonder if those who advocate for fewer restrictions on gun ownership would be willing to accept the 'well-regulated' portion of the Second Amendment.
The thing is that almost every single gun owner I've talked with is a proponent of safe and responsible gun usage. They're in favor of responsible citizens having access to firearms, and those who can't be trusted to be safe with guns (felons, the mentally unstable, young children, etc.) to not have that access.
What I don't understand is why gun-advocacy groups are so very worried about adding appropriate regulation. Why not pass laws relating to guns that mirror automobile laws? Both are useful tools that, used irresponsibly, can be deadly weapons. What would it be like if we required gun owners to be trained, licensed, and insured?
Let's have the conversation now, and not wait until the next tragedy.