I think we’ve been over this. If someone hell-bent on killing someone does not have a so-called “assault weapon” at hand, he’ll use a pistol. If no pistol is available, he’ll use a kitchen knife. A few years ago, I had a friend killed in broad daylight by a sick bastard wielding a baseball bat. A few months ago, Sean Patrick Conroy was killed on a subway platform by a few thugs with nothing more than their fists and feet. Criminals are criminals. Killers are killers. Heck, SUVs generally kill more people than economy cars when involved in accidents, yet we’re not pushing to ban SUVs, are we?
Even beyond the whole “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument, there’s another thing — the United States Constitution provides an individual right to keep and bear arms. Plain and simple. Black and white.
Sure, there are those who feel that the right doesn’t apply to semi-automatic rifles, perhaps because our founding fathers might not have anticipated them. However, if we go down that road and start splitting hairs in the Bill of Rights based upon what those men could and could not have anticipated, we’re in all sorts of trouble.
Surely, even Benjamin Franklin couldn’t have anticipated the age of computers and shared such prognostications with his document-drafting friends. Yet, the contents of your hard drive and my hard drive and your neighbor’s hard drive are protected against unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment, a provision originally written in response to British soldiers’ invasion of colonists’ homes in search of tax stamps (or lack thereof) — signs of smuggling, a necessary measure in the British mercantilist economy at the time.
Regardless of anticipation, each and every word of our Constitution is there for a reason. We cannot continue to make exceptions in order to satisfy cultural or political winds. If change is truly desired, there is a process for doing so; the process behind amending the Constitution can be found in Article Five.
If a exception to the right to keep and bear arms for so-called “assault rifles” can be made on the grounds of effectiveness, real or perceived, what is stopping us from making an exception to the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments for young, African-American men based upon the fact that young black males are most likely to commit violent crimes? Surely, if rendering semiautomatic rifles unconstitutional will stem violence, why not constitutionally mandate that crime-prone young, black men will just be presumed guilty upon arrest and hauled off to prison?
Why stop there? Across the world, it seems that radical Muslims are committing acts of terrorism for the purpose of destroying the Jewish state. These radicals sure don’t seem to like Jews, do they? Well, maybe we can prevent such acts of terrorism here in the United States if we no longer allow Jews to congregate and worship. Perhaps we’ll all be safer if the freedom to worship provided by the First Amendment no longer applies to Jewish men and women.
While we’re at it, we’re always complaining that young people don’t know enough about politics. For the good of the country, let’s make sure that people under the age of 35–the same age that the Constitution provides as a requirement for the presidency–are no longer allowed to vote. Heck, there’s nothing even IN the Constitution which says we cannot deny the right to vote based upon age — the Fifteenth Amendment only mentions race, color and prior service, and the Nineteeth Amendment is all about gender. That’s it, it’s settled … for the good of the country, only those 35 years of age or older are allowed to vote.
I could do this all day long. Eminent domain and due process. Freedom of the press. Self-incrimination. Point being, these provisions are all here for a reason, in their current state for a reason.
No, our founding fathers could not possibly have anticipated everything that the future would bring, but they didn’t have to. America was–is–the world’s greatest experiment. Those who built her knew what kind of country they wanted her to be. They knew this because they were painfully aware of what they didn’t want her to become. Everything from “We The People” to the last word on government compensation in the Twenty-Seventh Amendment appears there by specific intention, and the further we depart from it, the more lost we become as a nation.
Those who rail against the National Rifle Association, against sportsmen and against people like me who just want to protect their family and themselves the best they can, simply do not understand that the Second Amendment is not about guns. It’s not. It is about protection against tyranny on scales small and large. It is in many ways a “reset” button, a fail-safe option with regard to all of the other rights.
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms,” said Thomas Jefferson, “is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
Here, with regard to the question of violence and guns, however, perhaps the words of Samuel Adams would be more appropriate:
“The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.”
Adams understood that law-abiding citizens were to be trusted, and he’s right — law-abiding citizens, by very definition, abide by the law. It’s the criminals we need to worry about.