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.
—Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
This was not the post that I wanted to come back to Political Sigh with. But after Sandy Hook, I have been doing a lot of thinking about this subject and I wanted to share some thoughts.
I was a teenager just entering high school when Columbine happened. I am old enough to have kids the age of the youngest victims of Sandy Hook. In fact, I have family that is in that age group. To say that this is a tragic situation doesn’t do justice to something like this. We have become a country that doesn’t value human life very much or anything else for that matter. We say that the problem is that “God is not in schools” or “it’s the government’s fault/job” and we just pass the buck to someone else. As Silas House said on his Facebook page recently, our country is sick and we need to change the culture. One of the first things we need to do is curtail our gun culture. Sure, there are other things we need to look at as well, but this is the place to start. Before I get into the two possibilities, let’s take a quick look at U.S. history.
The Right to Bear Arms: A Very, Very Brief History
For those of you who don’t know U.S. history, the U.S. used to be a colony of Great Britain. In the 1770s, we fought a war for our independence and we won. In the 1780s, the founding fathers got together and wrote up a Constitution that would be the framework of the new government. After it was ratified in 1789, ten amendments were quickly added, called the Bill of Rights. The second amendment is the one gun enthusiasts and the National Rifle Association constantly throws up as being why we all have guns. Yep, it’s about the right to bear arms.
Why was this amendment necessary? We had just fought a war and didn’t have much of an army. We used militia quite a bit. A militia would be called up and each individual member would supply their own weapons. It may have been a crude way to operate, but it worked when you didn’t have a full-fledged military.
We also must keep in mind that there were no automatic weapons. The people of that time period had a gun and they had to be filled and packed with gun powder and the musket ball (a primitive bullet) would be added. Even for the most skilled marksman, this took some time.
Fast Forward to 2012
There are more and more mass shootings that ever before. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook are just a few. What about the temple in Wisconsin or a when congress woman and supporters were gunned down? When do we say that enough is enough? We need to significantly change guns laws. Now, more than ever, we need to have this discussion.
Unfortunately, the U.S. seems to act like the world’s rebellious teenager. We know everything and we don’t care what anyone says. We have this deep love of guns and we don’t want to really see change. When it is easier to get a gun that it is to own a car, we need to take a look at a few things. When I was originally thinking about this blog post, I was thinking about a way to repeal the second amendment. That will take way too long to do and many people hunt safely every year. There is no reason to take away all weapons. The only weapons we need to take away are automatic weapons. This will significantly change a lot of problems.
Step 1: License and Registration, Please
We all know that if we are talking gun control, the NRA will have something to say and will attempt to prevent Congress from doing anything. Instead of this going to Congress and say “hey, we need to ban guns” there needs to be a slower approach that everyone can get behind.
The first step would be that if a person has guns, of any type, it needs to be registered, licensed, insured and safety classes need to be taken. People do the same thing when they buy a car or get licensed to drive a car.
Step 2: Eliminate Automatic Weapons
Why does the average American need a gun with a clip with a hundred rounds? I don’t really know. The next step after registering guns will be to eliminate automatic assault weapons. Only military and certain police units need those types of weapons. The government can have drop off locations in every state to where people who own these weapons can turn them in, at no charge. After having one year to do so, people will face a penalty of 5 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine. This is the same penalty that is faced if people illegal copy and distribute DVDs.
I am not advocating taking away rifles and other such weapons. I’m just saying we should take away weapons that people don’t need. People can still hunt and still protect their families and property. I would love to have a discussion in which people are ready to grow up and look at some problems facing our country. If you have any thoughts, or ideas, please post them here in the comments. It is time to start have a respectful discussion about gun control. We shouldn’t have to go through Sandy Hook again.