AR-15 rifles line a shelf in the gun library at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

GUN CONTROL

The topic sets off a variety of emotions and thoughts that run across a wide spectrum, but in reality there are really only two sides to this coin: People for gun control and people adamantly against it.

The two sides are fervent when it comes to the issue, invoking varying degrees of sense and non-sensibility. Opponents of gun control are consistent in almost always citing the US Constitution as the basis for any restrictions on Gun Control. A few (see Ted Cruz) even cite the right to bear arms as a God given right, but I’m pretty sure the Constitution was not actually written by God.

Let us look at the Constitution and give some real and objective basis to its use in any argument. The US Constitution essentially took effect in 1789. There were seven initial tenets, none of which mentioned guns or weaponry. In 1791, 10 additional amendments were added (there are presently 27 amendments to the Constitution) that came to be known as the Bill of Rights. The Second of such Amendment’s did grant the people the right to keep and bear arms.

Proponents of the Second Amendment, or more specifically those against any form of gun control seem to want to use the Constitution and the second Amendment as a law that needs no interpretation or refinement. The truth is the US Constitution is a framework for which our nation is supposed to be governed. The fact that 27 separate Amendments had to be enacted show that the founding fathers did not get everything right the first time as well as not having the ability to foresee the changes that would necessitate improvements to the foundation they envisioned. When the constitution was written a majority of America’s Negro population had lived virtually their entire lives within slavery, and even then the Constitution did not count or consider them as whole human beings with the same rights granted to Whites. White women were, of course, above Negroes, but the initial Constitution did not grant or protect them in seeking the same rights and equalities as men, beginning with the right to vote which did not become fully protected until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1919 and ratified over a year later in 1920.

I digressed only to give some historical context to an understanding that the Constitution is an imperfect framework which our Supreme Court has been given the task of interpreting language and intent from the late 1700’s to modern times, and circumstances.

Here is a little more historical context to the subject directly at hand. In 1789 and 1791 the newly formed United States had just secured its independence from a long and bloody war with Great Britain. The need for the right to bear arms was directly attributable to the need for its citizens to defend and protect their selves and our nation from harm. There was no dedicated military for the country, and the country’s first organized police force was not started until 1838 in the city of Boston. Americans NEEDED to own guns when the second amendment was enacted. Those same needs are non-existent today with police forces’ in existence in nearly every city and municipality within our nation.

The second and perhaps most important issue that most forget or simply fail to understand is what the right to bear arms actually meant to the writers of the US Constitution. In 1789 guns were still essentially single shot muskets (some with bayonets). Single shot weapons that were not particularly accurate from long range and ones that took some time to reload prior to reuse. The founding fathers could not anticipate six shot revolvers let alone semi and fully automatic assault weapons. The right to bear arms was written to have citizens be able to protect themselves and most importantly our country. There was not a fully maintained US armed force to do so at the times so it was incumbent on our citizens to be able to do so. That clearly is not the need the present day need, but even the right to protect oneself was only written with an understanding that people would be doing so against a foe at worst with a single shot weapon.

I am a big proponent on the right to own a firearm as a means of protection, but think that common sense needs to intervene in the types of weaponry that civilians are allowed to own and operate. Access to multiple guns, powerful guns and unlimited ammunition will only add fuel to the fire of those with ill intent. Weapons that are intended for warfare should not be in the hands of regular citizens. You may not be able to control the mindset of criminals and terrorists but we can surely limit their access and ease to hurt others.

Rationale and sensibility have to be used. Gun violence is an epidemic in America and only control on the manufacturing of weapons and sale and availability to civilians will even begin to address the issue. To say there is no easy or definitive answer to gun violence in America is an understatement, but the lack of a clear resolution is no longer an excuse to not actively address the issue of gun control.

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