To The Daily Sun,
It's time to have an honest conversation about the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment. It is incumbent on all of us to open a dialogue with those who believe they have the right to not only own guns but to use them at will without penalty.
Are we going to become a nation where people will have so many weapons that this country will be an armed encampment? Are we going to walk our streets or drive on our roads ready to shoot and kill if we think we've been threatened in any way, shape or form? Are we ready to teach our children that it's okay to shoot first and ask questions later?
Have we been forced into such a fearful mindset that we are finding "demons" wherever we live, work, shop, travel or worship? Are those "demons" coming to get me, my family or my friends and neighbors?
The National Rifle Association was founded on the idea of responsible and well-regulated gun ownership. Their original motto "Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting For Recreation" was subverted by the takeover of extremists in 1977. The current NRA has conveniently forgotten that for over 200 years the Second Amendment was interpreted as a right within the context of a militia.
The gun lobby bases its absolutist view of the Second Amendment on so-called "strict construction" and "originalist" readings of the Constitution. It believes that the Constitution is frozen in the year it was adopted. But that idea died when the Bill of Rights was added four years later. Shortly after, the Supreme Court decision in Marbury vs. Madison established the court's ability to rule on the constitutionality of law. No such function exists in the Constitution itself, it is a matter of interpreting the document.
The "living breathing document" idea is not "claptrap." Rather, it is the loose constructionist (read: interpretive) Federalist view that won the day more than 200 years ago. The Constitution has been continually interpreted to apply to times and things the framers never could have dreamed of: railroads, telephones, automobiles, the internet and on and on and on.
When the Second Amendment was written the most dangerous firearm an American owned was a top-loading musket. They could never have imagined assault weapons. That is where the "well-regulated" phrase in the Second Amendment comes in.
The continued precedents by the court in interpreting the document support this notion. In 2008, Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia stated that this does not prevent the government from regulating arms. The extremist NRA wants you to forget that part of this important decision.
Justice John Paul Stephens, a Supreme Court justice from 1975-2010 wrote an Op-Ed in April 2014. He wrote that legislators, not judges, are in a better position to determine "who should make decisions that will determine what kinds of firearms should be available to private citizens, and when and how they may be used." Stephens directly quotes former Chief Justice Warren Burger's comment that the Second Amendment "...has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word 'fraud' on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."
Stephens further states that "Congress's failure to enact laws that would expand the use of background checks and limit the availability of automatic weapons cannot be justified by reference to the Second Amendment..."
Just this month the court rejected challenges to New York and Connecticut's ban on assault weapons. The NRA continues to lie and fear-monger in order to fill its bank account and to keep Congress under its thumb. They are holding the American people hostage to a fraud, and innocent people are dying because of it. As the days go by we witness increasing carnage as a result of the use of these weapons. How many have to be gunned down before the fraud is stopped?
- Category: Letters
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