The current argument facing both the nation and the opinion section of this fine newspaper is this: is regulating the sale of certain types of firearms a good or a bad thing?
Simply put, it’s neither.
Rather than being an instrument of good or bad, gun regulation is a necessity. Fundamental to understanding this concept is an understanding of the origins of the conflict that it encompasses.
As Alex Hunton stated Issue 21, the basis of the argument against firearm regulation is derived from that all powerful and divine document, the Constitution of the United States of America. This I agree with. But what I cannot concede is the idea that the Second Amendment to that document is an accurate or relevant guide for the distribution of firearms.
When the Constitution was created in 1787, the United States had just experienced a number of years of failed government. The Constitution rectified this by doing the only logical thing when such failures occur; it created stronger and better government, in part to control violence.
To put the Second Amendment in perspective, we must examine Shay’s Rebellion.
From 1786-1787, a group of former Revolutionary War soldiers used force to shut down county courts in Massachusetts. The rebels were defeated not by police, but by a militia raised for this single purpose. Many historians, including myself, believe that this was the inspiration for the Second Amendment.
Ultimately, the intent of the amendment was for individual citizens to be guaranteed the right to join together and protect the nation. It does not protect the right for private citizens to own military hardware and fight for what they believe to be the defense of the constitution, defense of individual freedoms from the government or defense of skewed and unimaginable cultist beliefs. If it did, then the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unibomber attacks, and the incident in Waco, Texas, in 1993 would all be considered heroic and constitutionally guaranteed acts of liberty rather than the acts of sadistic terrorism that they were.
The Constitution strengthened the ability of government to, well, govern. I find it disturbingly frightful that so few individuals understand this. The government is there to protect the people from themselves. This has been demonstrated in depth throughout the history of this great country and yet still very few people are able to realize it.
The debate over gun control is essentially a magnified part of the much larger question in American politics: what is the proper role of government, specifically the federal government, in American life? For years, it has had different answers that change with the social climate at the time.
Currently, the president’s proposed solutions are the appropriate answer to the gun control question. The government is taking legitimate actions – through legislation and regulation – to solve a problem. It is doing its job, protecting the American people.
It is time for this country to realize that perhaps the cause of the problem is not reckless and inadequate people, but reckless and inadequate government. Basically, the histories of firearms and the U.S. are so desperately intertwined that to even suggest such a notion is borderline insanity.
However, I believe that we have the ability as the most advanced society the world has ever known to understand and fix the problems that face us. And so the time is now, the opportunity is upon us to leave a better world for our children than we have now. So let us do just that, move forward into this infant century with the mind and the heart to produce effective change for our communities. Change that is good, that will last and will be forever studied and emulated to better this great nation of ours. God bless us and God bless the United States of America.