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My Two Cents on the Gun Debate
I was raised around guns...shotguns, handguns, rifles, black powder guns...if it was a weapon that fired a bullet-shaped projectile, I've likely seen it, held it, or fired it at some point in my life. My dad didn't have trigger locks on his guns, nor were they stored in the top of a closet somewhere, supposedly out of sight, out of mind and oh-so taboo.
Neither myself nor my two younger siblings ever played with weapons, because we were raised to understand that they were articles to be respected; they were not toys and they could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. We were also raised with the knowledge that the only time you ever point a firearm at another person is if your intention is that they end up dead.
My dad has a large firearm collection, many of them extremely valuable, and sometimes I wonder if perhaps he's simply stockpiling for the time when the United States government makes owning a firearm completely illegal, and not just illegal with regard to the type of weapon it is (i.e., semi-automatics and whatnot). He is a staunch Republican and a devotee of the right of a private citizen to own whatever weaponry he/she chooses, without interference from the government or anyone else.
The United States Constitution, vis-a-vis the Second Amendment, provides the private citizen the right to bear arms. This has been hotly debated for decades. It has been misinterpreted, misrepresented, misphrased, and misunderstood for just as long, if not longer.
The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 along with the Bill of Rights. Anyone who paid attention in high school Civics or Social Studies class should have some rudimentary knowledge regarding the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Amendments. Sadly, most classes that were taught 20-plus years ago when I was in high school seem to have disappeared from the curriculum, or their content has so vastly changed that it no longer resembles "education" at all.
The Supreme Court of the United States first ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms. In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two landmark decisions officially establishing this interpretation. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home within many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession listed by the Court as being consistent with the Second Amendment. In McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025 (2010), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governments to the same extent that it limits the federal government. [This entire paragraph was copied verbatim from the Second Amendment entry on Wikipedia.]
The version of the Second Amendment that was ratified in 1791 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."
The debated parts are usually "well regulated militia," "right of the People," and "keep and bear arms." Apparently, the majority of those doing the debating have neither a firm command of the English language nor a dictionary. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a "militia" is a subset of "the People" and that it means a militant faction or subset, something like an unofficial army composed of armed men (and, nowadays, women), and that - since all the other rights conveyed in the Constitution refer to those rights granted to "the People" as a whole and as individuals, that the Second Amendment also applies to a right granted to the people as a whole and individually.
Yes, sometimes people do bad things with firearms. Yes, it's tragic and sad and horrible and might have been preventable...but imposing choke-hold laws on gun ownership is not a means to that end. The most simple objection to limitations on firearm ownership or the introduction of more restrictive gun laws is this - a potential criminal, someone who is going to do something bad with a firearm, does not care whether or not their ownership or use of said firearm is illegal. They are already rushing headlong down the path of destruction, so why would they suddenly have an epiphany and think, "Oh, wait...using this gun is illegal! I'd better stop now before I get in trouble!" What idiot - and that is what they are, pure and simple - actually and honestly thinks that restrictive gun laws will truly prevent or reduce violent crime? If someone wants to kill another person, they are going to do it...by gun, knife, car, or kitchen appliance...illegal or not.
Recently in Brazil more than 230 people were killed in a night club when a pyrotechnics show took a horrible turn and security guards (for whatever reason) blocked the exits. In a tongue-in-cheek Facebook entry I queried whether or not our legislators should rush to their chambers to draft laws to ban pyrotechnics, night clubs, security guards, and music to prevent this from happening in the U.S.
After events like Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and countless others, people always say of the perpetrators, "Well, he/she did seem (this way or that way)...if only I had sought help for him/her..." Or notified the authorities. Or told their parents. Or...or...or... Really? Or what? Told whom? Notified the cops of what, exactly? Hey, I think the guy next door might go on a killing spree at a local school next week, because he acts weird. Because he digs holes in his back yard in the middle of the night. Naked. Covered in mayonnaise. Notifying anyone of anything before something happens will likely serve to get YOU labeled as the weirdo and put YOU on a watchlist. You'll be asked what your evidence is and you won't have any, since weirdness isn't illegal (yet).
When a drunk driver kills someone while driving home from the local bar, we don't outlaw cars, bars, and alcohol. When a texting teenager gets into a wreck and kills someone because they didn't see the red light they ran since their nose was buried in the phone, we don't outlaw cellular phones, cars, and restrict driver's licenses to people over the age of 30 (they kill people while texting too, ya know). When Farrah Faucett tied a guy to a bed and set him on fire because he beat her, we didn't outlaw gascans, ropes in private homes, matches, and all other accoutrements of murder.
So why pick on guns? ANYTHING CAN BE A TOOL USED TO KILL ANOTHER PERSON. Before someone makes the decision to use something as a weapon, it is an inanimate object. And if they can't get their hands on guns legally, they WILL do so illegally, and they will still kill people with them. If not guns, they will definitely use something else.
The problem isn't firearms, it's a lack of a basic foundation in the home upon which a child can be raised to be a responsible, rational, educated adult, along with countless other things that have to do with social and societal impacts upon a person that eventually end in someone's death.