One of the most heated debates right now, other than abortion, is gun control. The precipice of the debate seems to center around the second amendment. I personally don’t understand why it is so difficult to interpret. All I can think, is that each side’s political beliefs help to influence the interpretation. So is an unbiased determination even possible?
Probably not. We are all human after all. Eliminating bias completely is impossible. If it weren’t, then we likely wouldn’t need the entire judicial system. We wouldn’t need a jury to decide our cases. An unbiased judge could sit and rule on every case as it is presented. He could pass judgment from his pedestal of omnipotence and we would accept the judgment, knowing that it was an unbiased decision. But here in the real world, we have emotions and prejudices that cloud our judgment.
So if finding an unbiased solution is out of the question, what option do we have?
I tend to look to our founding fathers. They were some of the greatest minds the world has ever known. The forethought behind the constitution was nothing short of magnificent. The document they created, so fluid yet firm, has become the backbone of the greatest country the world has ever known. They were the authors of the constitution, so why don’t we look at what they have to say on the second amendment.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
- Benjamin Franklin
“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.” – George Washington
“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves … and include all men capable of bearing arms.”- Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on “militia” in the 2nd Amendment
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”- Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334
So now that we have a pretty good idea of how the founders felt, what exactly does the second amendment say? Second Amendment: “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.”
Many say that this only gives the right to the “militia” to bear arms. So what is the militia? According to the quote above by Senator Richard Henry Lee, we are the militia.
So what’s the big deal? Why are liberals so concerned with my right to carry a handgun? Safety is usually the most trumpeted response. This is counter intuitive, in my opinion, because the law abiding citizen uses a gun to increase their own safety. If guns were not able to be lawfully obtained, that would only allow them to be obtained unlawfully. The only people that would have guns would be criminals.
But we don’t need to look at gun control hypothetically. We can actually look at states in the US that have strict gun laws. In 2011 California had the most firearm related murders of all US states with 1220. California also had some of, if not the strictest gun control laws. You may say that California is the largest state in the US and should have the highest murder rate. This is a valid point, except Texas has a relatively comparable population. Texas only had 669 total gun murders that same year. It’s probably safe to say the cowboys in Texas have plenty of guns walking around. So gun control does not equate safety.
There are countless other arguments from both sides of the fence. I just wanted to touch on a few of the issues in this post. I will be writing follow up posts in the future to go into further detail on the various issues. So if you have not been persuaded, I will leave you with a final quote. This one is not from one of our founding fathers:
The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.
– Hitler, April 11 1942