I grow tired of writing about guns in America. And I only seem to have to do it after a tragedy where someone is harmed through an action where a gun was used. Considering how often this actually happens, I’m surprised I get to write about anything else at all. In America, every day, more than three-hundred people of all ages are harmed either intentionally or unintentionally, with a gun. At this rate, I should be pumping out an essay every five minutes. But most harm caused by gun use barely makes the local news. It’s only major tragedies that go viral and become national. A seriously deranged individual shooting up a school usually does it.
So today I write this after the March For Our Lives. It was primarily a day in America where people came out and demonstrated against gun violence. Opinions on what to do about it varies but the general consensus is that we have to change something. It’s true, the United States leads the way in violence caused by the use of a gun. So it makes perfect sense to see if there’s something we can be doing better. And we need to think along the lines of reducing violence while retaining the rights of the people to bear arms not being infringed.
As a refresher, here’s the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution in its entirety:
“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 reason this is in the Constitution is that those who composed it recalled times in the past when an over reaching, tyrannical government was able to overpower its citizenry and use force to subdue and subjugate them. Only by allowing the citizenry the means to fight back, to offer resistance, the America people would have a check on an intrusive, tyrannical government should one arise.
In today’ world, opposition to this note that when the Second Amendment was composed, it was musket vs musket, cannon vs cannon. Today’s standing army is far superior in firepower to the average homeowner. No one in America privately owns a fully operational F-16 or M1 Abrams tank. No one owns an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine. For that matter, no one in America privately owns a nuclear missile. There’s simply no way a homeowner, even with an AR-15, can go up against the might of the full arsenal of the American military. So Second Amendment critics observe that said amendment is obsolete.
What they do not seem to understand is that should a tyrannical government come to power, they fail to see that just like the Civil War of 1860, many soldiers currently on duty would refuse to carry out unjust orders. They would use the armories under their command to stand with the civilian. So it would be more even, more of a challenge for a government to come along and usurp the people. The biggest challenge would be well trained soldiers having to also train civilians to use the equipment. And since such a scenario would be on the fly, said training would be insufficient and enough just to get by.
Now let’s go back to the Second Amendment.
As George Mason remarked during the debate on the Constitution, all the people are part of the Militia. This meant all able bodied (primarily men) were responsible for taking up arms if necessary to repel invasion or insurrection. And this is where the part of the Second Amendment comes in requiring a “well regulated” militia. But what does this mean?
According to the Constitution, under Section 8, number fifteen and sixteen spell out what Congress was responsible for regarding the militia. I reproduce them in their entirety here:
15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
“Well regulated” means that the United States Congress is responsible for organizing and arming and each state is responsible for appointing officers to see that it be done.
Today’s gun control advocates call for things like universal background checks, training and course requirements to make sure you know how to handle a gun, licensing upon completion of the class, and other competency requirements. Since this does not happen, is it not a failing of government to provide its citizenry with all this as written in the Constitution?
What if the U.S. Congress set aside yearly funding for this to be doled out to the states? And then the states were required to have every abled bodied person (say at the age of eighteen) go through firearms training, safety and eventual licensing? Isn’t this what gun control advocates are calling for that is already a requirement of the Constitution but not being done? The point here is that we don’t need any new gun laws. We need the United States Government and the States to enact what was already required of them in 1788 (and reinforced in 1791 when the Second Amendment was added).
Why are we sending money to other countries for their defense when we could keep much of it back home to offer such a training program? In this, we wouldn’t have to raise taxes or spend any more than we’re doing now. In fact, if we stopped defending others and kept most of it back home, we’d probably be saving money, reducing taxes. And, we’d have all able bodied people who wanted to be gun owners be properly trained.
I suspect an objection would be that no one would want to be forced to enter into such a training program. I suspect that since more of the American people don’t own firearms than do, they wouldn’t want to take part in this. And I’d agree. But then I say they can’t have a firearm until they do go through it if they change their mind.
Granted, none of this, like the thousands of other gun law on the books is going to stop someone determined to ignore the laws and obtain a gun through the black market and go rouge. Just as all the requirements to drive a car don’t stop someone from simply getting in a car and driving without a license. Fair enough, but would this cut down the rate of gun violence in America? Does a driver’s license cut down the rate of accidents? I don’t know. But it’s worth a shot (excuse the pun). And, it’s already a Constitutional requirement of Congress and the States.