The Right to Bear Arms (2nd Amendment)
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the right to bear arms. It states "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." (http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html) This is probably the most controversial and debated part of our country's cornerstone document, and one that has opponents and proponents from all walks of life.
I wasn't raised surrounded by weaponry of various types, but my father did go hunting every fall and kept his rifles and shotguns in an elegantly crafted wood and glass display cabinet in the living room. Pistols and handguns were kept in my parents' bedroom...one on each side of the bed, with any extras being stored away in cases and shoeboxes in the top of their closet. My dad is also a gun collector, so he had several firearms that were not for functional use. Shells for all his regular weapons were stored with each weapon, there were no locks or trigger guards, and no key or combination was required to access any portion of his small arsenal.
I have two younger siblings, a brother and a sister, and all three of us have gone on at least one hunting trip with our dad at some point during our childhood and teenage years. We weren't raised to fear weapons or treat them as some type of mysterious "evil." We were taught to have a healthy dose of respect for the damage a weapon can do in the hands of someone who was determined to do harm. Our dad took us target shooting many times, and when we reached the age of 18, he gave us one or two weapons from his collection. I got a Colt Python .357 that had been manufactured in 1973, and a Belgian Browning .22 rifle. Dad insisted that we all target-practice with our own guns so that we would be familiar with how they felt and sounded to fire, in the unfortunate event that we would ever need to use them in self-defense, so that we wouldn't be surprised by the weapon.
The "right" to keep and bear arms, as defined by the Constitution of our country, is no longer a right that remains uninfringable, as anyone can learn simply by perusing the media. The government continues to distort the 2nd Amendment, penned in 1791, and twist the wording and original intent to suit their own purposes, in an attempt to control yet another aspect of our individual rights. Politicians and talking heads now claim that the 2nd Amendment meant that the "right to bear arms" only applied back in the colonial era, when a "militia" was required to defend townships and communities that didn't have a standing army or police force of some kind. As much as the government has tried to pervert this basic right, it's rather amazing that they haven't simply repealed the amendment as they have others that weren't to their liking (like the alcohol prohibition amendment; does that mean our country's leaders are a group of boozehounds?).
The pro-gun movement's central dogma is that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." No truer words could ever be spoken about a firearm...but try telling that to anyone that is anti-gun. Their stance is that if a gun wasn't present, the victim wouldn't have been killed. Have they not considered that anything can be used as a weapon? Should we attempt to limit access to such things as hammers, baseball bats, can openers, kitchen knives and chicken wire, since a person can be killed quite easily with any of those items?
Occasionally when someone gets shot, there is usually the typical tittle in the media about the possibility that the victim's family is going to consider suing the weapon manufacturer in a wrongful death suit. Because, of course, it was the fault of the weapon that their poor little relative is now dead and buried. The gun just jumped off the shelf, loaded itself, scurried outside, and sought out their little darling and starting pop-popping rounds off of its own free will. Makes perfect sense, right? And it also makes sense that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real.
A firearm is nothing more than an intricately detailed paperweight until it is in someone's hands, and those hands (and the brain controlling them) determine the eventual outcome of the use of that pretty paperweight. (Speaking of paperweights, those can be used as weapons, too, so I think we should introduce legislature to restrict their possession and use.) If someone didn't pick up the gun, point it at another person and pull the trigger, no one would be injured by it. So WHY blame the weapon or those who created it? That's nothing but pure, unadulterated ignorance.
A 6-year old child finds daddy's loaded gun and starts playing with it, subsequently killing his little sister or playmate. Is that Smith & Wesson's fault? No...it is the fault of the PARENT for not properly securing the weapon away from a curious child who hasn't been properly raised to understand that daddy's things are not to be messed with and that a gun CAN be harmful. Put it on a shelf and simply tell a kid "no" and all they'll want is to touch, touch, touch.
A couple of high school students buy guns illegally from flea markets and gun shows, then go to their high school and kill a dozen students before killing themselves. Should Remington be sued? No. Should the parents of those teenagers be held responsible? Somewhat, but not entirely. A 16-year old and a 17-year old are fully conscious of right and wrong and no amount of good or bad parenting can totally control what someone on the cusp of adulthood will do with their time when out of view of their parents. In a situation like this, WHO should be liable? Ultimately, the liability rests with the persons who pulled the trigger because they were exercising free will and had long been exposed to the "rights and wrongs" of society. Should the sellers of the weapons be culpable? If the requirement that the buyer be 18 and present a photo ID, possibly. But how do you get around a fake ID? I suppose that's part of the reason why a waiting period has been enacted in many areas, and background checks are required.
As for background checks...it is illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. Essentially, this means that a convicted felon does not have the constitutionally provided RIGHT to possess a weapon as a means of protecting his/her home, family, and property. I could see the potential validity of this restriction if the felon's crime was one involving the use of a weapon and harm or death being caused upon another person, but ANY convicted felon, regardless of their crime, cannot legally own a firearm. I guess that means if an armed intruder enters a felon's home, the felon has to stand by and watch while the intruder rapes and murders his wife and children and then robs him blind. (And if the intruder gets injured while he's in the felon's home, our legal system will allow him to sue the felon!)
The phrase "truth, justice, and the American way" no longer has the meaning it used to, and it really doesn't inspire a sense of pride and loyalty to the United States in the way it might have decades and decades ago. There is no truth in politics...it's all about schmoozing your way into office by vomiting up what you think voters want to hear. Justice is a word in the dictionary that should be probably be considered an antiquated notion, since our legal system functions more on a "what's popular in the media these days" concept and is determined by which cases will bring in the most cash to attorneys, the courts, and the prosecuting states. And what exactly is "the American way"?
The American way is the way this country's forefathers intended the country to function when they wrote the Constitution. When they said that individuals have the RIGHT to bear arms, they didn't mean only if the individuals were part of a miltia, or if the country was at war, or if someone lived in a remote area where police access was restricted. If they had meant that, they would've included it...they included plenty of other limitations on other parts of the Constitution.
People who think gun ownership should be limited, restricted, or outright banned are fearful and ignorant. How about gun education instead of gun restrictions? How about people acting more like responsible parents and teaching their children about firearm safety instead of letting the television babysit their kids while they sit in front of their computer, on their cell phones, at their jobs, or in front of their own television sets? How about punishing the people who pull the trigger instead of punishing the company that made the gun?
Are we going to start seriously entertaining the idea that an inanimate object can DO harm? An inanimate object can DO nothing at all until it is in the hands of a human being. The end result of that object's use is still and ONLY the sole result of what that person does with the object. If I beat someone to death with a bag of Friskies cat food, does that mean Friskies is somehow evil because they created something that could kill? A bag of cat food, just like a gun, CANNOT kill. The person wielding it is the only thing that CAN.