Jan. 29, 2012 — Of late, gun control seems to be the topic one hears the most about whether at home, at work or out in the community and I have to admit, it’s a tough topic for anyone to take on regardless of his or her stance.
It was also an interesting discussion between my husband and son during a 35-mile drive to the theater in Susanville.
Multi-generational due to a 34-year age gap, life experiences and my husband’s service in the military made for a lively conversation.
Despite all those factors it was remarkable how in tune they were when it came to the topic of assault rifles and extended magazines and gun ownership in general.
The opinions they lobbed back and forth prompted me to take a look back at history.
The right to bear arms is a protection afforded under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It was proposed Sept. 25, 1789, and enacted as law Dec. 15, 1791, as part of the original Bill of Rights.
The short text of the Amendment reads, “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.”
Looking back at history, one can see both the importance and relevance of the text.
From 1775 to 1783, 13 American colonies were at war with Great Britain and did not have for their protection the combined weapons and personnel of the armed forces of the United States.
Militiamen were volunteers comprised of farmers, neighbors and members of the business community. They were lightly armed with their own personal weapons, likely used for hunting and, in some circumstances, protection.
Upon the call to independence they came together from small local groups and from many areas of the colonies to serve. They faced tremendous odds and served up a great victory despite the fact that history is clear most members served briefly and fairly close to home: most assuredly one of the greatest challenges of that extended war.
History offers a clear definition of what a militia is, what purpose it served in the absence of trained military personnel and why the average person in that era should have the right to bear arms.
The questions being raised today and the many raised since the enactment of the law are primarily confrontational in nature.
There are those who are staunch gun owners or constitutionalists and those who just plain don’t like government interference who take exception to the latest gun control proposals.
Then there is the average citizen who faces daily news blasts about the wars on crime, drugs, religion and even protests on war itself. Is it any wonder there is no clear consensus on the topic of gun control?
I know few people who would contest an individual’s right to own a handgun for self-protection or a hobby at a firing range. The same goes for individuals who own rifles and shotguns for hunting and other sport.
As an American I have always appreciated the rights afforded to me and I do respect the rights of others. However, I am not blind to the fact the world we live in is a much different place then that of our country’s Founding Fathers.
As I, too, served in the United States Army for many years, I fully understand the importance of a well-armed force to combat the precarious situations in which we find ourselves around the globe.
But, like the old saying goes, “there is a time and place for everything” and I believe the time and place for assault weapons and extended magazines is with our military in times of war and with law enforcement in critical situations when the public is in harm’s way.
I think we have each had more than enough opportunity in the past decades to reach the understanding that while the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it should not do so at the peril of fellow American civilians.
Just as some Americans have the right to buy and fire guns, others have the right to expect they can shop in a mall, send their children to school or attend a movie without tragic consequences.
While I am no fan of amending the Constitution, I do understand that change needs to happen and the sooner the better.
Militaries develop strategies to combat threats from all nations and, unfortunately, we Americans are seeing far too many threats within the borders of our own country.
There are many arguments out there about gun control and, again, I believe most of us understand that the problem with guns is not the average citizen but those with psychological issues or agendas.
I also believe most folks understand stricter rules on the average gun owner are not likely to lessen the number of guns used illegally on the street.
When it comes to gun control proposals and runaway violence I can honestly come to only one conclusion: there has to be a first step.
While I don’t see much chance of compromise on the horizon, I hope cool minds prevail and a solution exists that with some sacrifice, we can come together to ensure we do make a difference in the future lives of many Americans.
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