“Protect Second Amendment with Common Sense” – Florida Today Op-Ed by yours truly appears today, November 9, 2017.

Every time there is a senseless shooting in America, a large segment of our populous, including politicians and the media, jump on the gun control bandwagon. Contrarily, right wingers forever cite the Second Amendment as though it was Biblical, claiming any and all restrictions should be minimal. Meanwhile, the left seems to endorse a disarmed citizenry without regard for personal protections. Common sense takes a back seat to both sides.

We often fail to consider how and why the Second Amendment was embedded into our constitution in 1791, when guns were single-shot muskets, the population of the new nation was under 4 million and there were no organizations called “police.” The only civil protection people had from intruders, thieves and killers, were the citizens themselves.

The language is clear: “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.” In today’s America, we have well-regulated militias in every town, city, county and state, the most visible of which are some 800,000 sworn, well-armed law enforcement officers.

To complement that, there are 435,000 National Guardsmen who can be called to duty in times of need. That doesn’t include the vast United States military staffing of 1,281,900 active duty soldiers, plus 801,000 reservists. So, that element of the Constitution is covered.

I am a retired cop. I own guns. But I don’t consider myself, or any other civilian, as part of a “well-regulated militia.” We already have that. Thus, the language is outdated. I have a permit to carry for self-protection and stand by the rule of law that allows me that “right:” the Second Amendment.

Do we really need a Constitutional right to own firearms? Yes. But perhaps some laws need amending with a modicum of 21st century common sense.

  • No civilian in the U.S. needs to own a repeating firearm or “assault weapon.” Therefore, they should never be owned or sold privately at gun shows or by licensed dealers.
  • Gun show loopholes must be plugged.
  • Gun collections are one thing. Building an arsenal is another. Records should be kept to tally mass sales to one person, or entity, and identified as a red flag.
  • Background checks are important, even if they are mostly cosmetic. The most serious flaw is the inability to identify and refuse guns to the mentally ill. This is a vital need which must be corrected.
  • Undercover air marshals often ride on commercial airplanes as a security measure. Other large gatherings should be similarly staffed; for example, rock concerts, churches, sporting events.


  • We need better accountability for gun ownership.

There are two man-made devices that combined kill roughly 75,000 people a year in America: automobiles and guns, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Car records are strictly regulated with titles for ownership, licenses and insurance. Private deals for gun sales require no accountability process. That needs to be changed. (Note: roughly two-thirds of firearm deaths are suicides).

The best defense against a sudden outbreak of intentional violence in the public arena is a well-prepared citizenry. If and when terrorists or dangerous lunatics know that armed civilians and/or security are present, it will pose a deterrent. And, the likelihood is great the perpetrators will be taken down before such events erupt into major tragedies. 

By all means, military personnel on base should be assigned to carry. Nidal Hasan, in Fort Hood in 2009 would never have succeeded in shooting 43 soldiers and killing 13 if any one of them were properly armed.

Two years ago, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey called for citizens to arm themselves as a potential front line against the rising tide of mass shootings and terrorist murder activity. He’s right. It’s the people who are there first, long before police arrive. Other law enforcement leaders have echoed Ivey’s plea, including Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. 

There is no foolproof answer. But we can do better. All we need is to apply common sense.



  1. Charle November 9, 2017 at 8:43 am #


  2. Julio November 9, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    The politicians should read your article.

  3. Patrick Brickman November 9, 2017 at 9:09 am #

    It’s common sense but our politicians are wedded to a mantra that gets votes & support 💰💰💰.
    USA also needs to look at other societies to understand why and how they cope with their gun laws….

  4. Christopher Jones November 9, 2017 at 9:20 am #

    One of the problems is the media dweebs who do not know what an assault weapon is. They keep citing AR 15s as an assault weapon, which it is not. It is a single shot rifle. Frankly, I agree with you that no fully automatic firearm needs to be sold or owned by anyone here. Those are for the military IMHO.
    Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of Ulster County NY also urged those who are licensed AND proficient to carry in light of the mass shootings. He still stands behind that idea. He was the first sheriff in NY to do so, and as you might imagine, (Woodstock is in Ulster Co), he got some push back, but since his statement, has been re elected soundly. Other sheriffs in NY have since come out and backed the idea, which makes sense. His department allowed me to shoot with the retirees, so I can maintain my federal carry card (HR 218), which was very much appreciated by me.
    With the latest church shooting, I am going to carry concealed when I go to church here in NY. You never know.

    • Edward A. Hensley November 11, 2017 at 3:17 am #

      Well said!

  5. Pete November 9, 2017 at 9:29 am #


    A large part of this issue is how to determine if someone is or has been mentally ill. Such people don’t always exhibit outward symptoms and it is usually after the fact a determination is made. Exacerbating this is many such persons are seemingly ok if on medication. Another is someone who is mentally ill may not be aware and hasn’t been diagnosed. Yet another is the doctor-patient confidentiality consideration—if they are under care. Finally, not all people who have any of the many disorders are not dangerous and are fully functional in society particularly while on meds.

    There are many who we would never guess have some form of mental illness: doctors, lawyers, judges and on and on; they are a cross section of society. Have you ever wondered why this conversation never reaches its rightful level of illumination? Mental illness in its many forms can be treated. There is such a stigma because of the worst we come to know, the fully functional can integrate flying below the radar by design. We have not accepted it as a treatable malady and until we do it will not be fully understood.

    Having said this go back to the first word.

  6. Laura P. November 9, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    I hope the right people read and digest this. Well done!

  7. Roger November 9, 2017 at 9:44 am #


  8. Larry Henry November 9, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Howdy … What eats at the Left is the sorry fact they can’t march in and make us patriotic Americans their prisoners. They’d get their ass shot off! That’s what the 2nd
    Amendment is all about … protecting us from a liberal regime such as Comrade Obama had for eight miserable years.

    Semper Fi and a big Moon Pie!

  9. Frank Clifford November 9, 2017 at 10:32 am #

    The most difficult challenge, by far, is the mental health identification, now stringently protected by privacy laws. It seems to me over my 75 years that most – probably all – mass shootings have been carried out by men who display, or have displayed, some degree of mental instability or at the very least, some extreme (i.e., unreasonable) feelings about an issue. In other words, stone-sober mature men of average intelligence and mental balance don’t plan to kill a group of people with a firearm.

    It is understandable that one would desire that his medical and mental health records be kept private. We have no such restriction for identifying the owner of an automobile.

    On the other hand, we could discuss having a special person sworn to confidentiality under penalty of law who can gain access to one’s records for the sole purpose of determining stability for gun ownership, given the onerous nature of that ownership and the public interest in accountability. At some point, our personal right has to give way to the greater community need.

    And of course there would be an allowable appeal from a denial of the application.

  10. Huck Long November 9, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    Marshall — Your editorial today hit the nail on the head! An elderly friend of mine once told me that the trouble with our country is that we lived ten miles apart when the constitution was written and now we are ten to the mile! As an old soldier I think we should limit all guns in the hands of civilians to semi-automatic and ten-round magazines. That would prevent kooks from doing massacres IF we can devise ways to control sales, as you so well pointed out. Thanx and congratulations one more time! Regards — Huck

    • Edward A. Hensley November 11, 2017 at 3:20 am #

      Agree but man did I ever catch hell a few years ago,
      for supporting a 10 round capacity limit on detachable
      magazines. Time to reconsider and renew my support.

  11. David Lee Valdina November 9, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    Most of the time I agree with Marshall. Marshall says “No civilian in the U.S. needs to own a repeating firearm”, so is he suggesting only single shot rifles, shotguns and handguns be owned ? If you take the time to read the many papers written around the time our Constitution was enacted, you will see that one of the major purposes of the 2nd Amendment was to counter balance the Government. As we decided the King’s rule was not to our liking and rebelled, so our present citizens need to ability to do so should our Government become abusive and unresponsive. You either believe that power is best in the hands of the many or you believe that power is best in the hands of the few elite. And educated and strong citizenry is our best protection. David Lee Valdina

    • Dr. Jack A. Milavic November 9, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

      Excellent comment.

    • Edward A. Hensley November 11, 2017 at 3:28 am #

      Marshall, as I have come to know him from over
      ten years online & a few lessor years on Facebook,
      was expert at investigating murders & getting the
      culprits convicted. He is also expert at outing the
      glaring injustices of the criminal legal system in
      America. He has never claimed, to my knowledge
      to be expert in firearms technicalities So, I have
      cooled down, since my 1st shock of using the term
      “repeating firearm” when I believe he meant “fully
      automatic firearm.” I am more concerned with
      just where in the hell does Marshall really believe
      we can find COMMON SENSE in the DC Swamp?

  12. Ron Fischer November 9, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    Good read Marshall. But, as you already know, there are lots of drivers out there that don’t have licenses or insurance and they do get into fatal accidents.

    Enforcing the laws is a tough challenge. The cops may arrest them, but the courts are just as likely ready to let them back out on the streets. That causes a lot of damage to the credibility of all laws – just ask the millions of illegals roaming freely about the country in contempt of our laws.

    But, it is a good read nonetheless and I thank you.

  13. Don Gilleland November 9, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    Marshall, this is one of your very best articles, full of wisdom and great recommendations.

  14. Vicki Ferraro November 9, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    The saddest thing regarding all our problems is that common sense, compromise and the good of the people is not an issue, It’s all about polarization, agendas and party politics. In the meantime our country is going to “hell in a handbasket”.

    • Tom Robbins November 10, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

      Well said, Vicki! Is there really much hope for the world, with Satan apparently running loose and deceiving and swaying the populace?
      That’s why we anxiously await the biblically prophesied return of Yeshua (Jesus) to restore righteousness to the world.

  15. Ken November 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

    With restating my argument, I will just go ahead and say “ditto” to what David Lee stated about “repeating arms” and the 2nd amend. By I will add that I believe the mental health issue has got to be addressed.

  16. David W Stewart November 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    30 years ago, Annette and I took the courses and obtained our carry permits. There had been a series of break-ins, rapes, and killings in the area where our cabin sat in Lake County. Law Enforcement was 15 miles away and communications were spotty. Other nations have faced this dilemma and solved it better than we have. The current situation is partly about guns, but more it Is about respect for human rights, property, and the rule of law. We must stop the incessant name calling and vicious confrontation that has become so common place. Your article is the sort of discourse we need to promote.

  17. George Sigrist November 10, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Great column on guns. I agree with you regarding your stats, facts, and research. Somebody dropped the ball concerning the Texas event, and also with the Home Depot truck rental in NYC. We need to be very careful regarding background checking, but the people who should be checking this data are apparently getting lazy and/or complacent, and……we have another tragic event. I do agree with open carry. The thugs who wish us harm might, at least in most cases, think twice when they are aware somebody might actually shoot back at them…..but allowing a felon or mentally unstable person to purchase weapons? Stupid, incompetent, even criminal. Maybe we should jail those who allow illegal weapons to be purchased, or jail those who fail to follow due process regarding ISIS sympathizers and the unstable, etc. We have charges regarding accessory to murder and also accessory to armed robbery, so why not accessory to mass murder?

    I also think the judges in this country are complete morons, and should themselves be jailed for allowing repeat offenders and criminally insane people loose, which, as I have noted before, is happening way too much in this country, not to mention that I wrote a letter which was published in Florida Today Opinion Pages (either Monday or Tuesday) regarding the idiot judges who shot down the president’s “no fly, no entry” policy. Our government is trying to (which they should) keep Americans safe, and the far left morons (and judges) are doing everything they can to get us all killed. I always check the “no” boxes during voting indicating “should judge so and so remain.” NO! They are contributing to the dangers we face, and there are murders, rapists and pedophiles walking among us who should be locked up! Thousands of people are killed every year in motor vehicle accidents….should be ban automobiles? Sadly, we are a nation made up of politically correct idiots.
    Anyway, great article.

    George Sigrist

  18. Tom Robbins November 10, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    Thank you Marshall for another great, well researched article on an important subject in these perilous times we live in.

  19. Edward A. Hensley November 11, 2017 at 3:34 am #

    And just where Marshall, are we going to
    find Common Sense in the DC Swamp. Now here’s a common sense
    sounding bill title, from the CA Queen of Gun Control, Sen. DiFi.>

    S.2095 – A bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to
    keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.…/115th-congress/senate-bill/2095 <

    Watch out for those "Other Purposes," such as prison for technical
    violations with no ill intent by honest gun owners. I won't pester you
    with the NRA email on this bill, but the bill runs 125 pages.

    You want common sense? Quit arguing gun control and change
    the discussion to "Destructive Devices Prohibition" Detachable
    High Capacity Magazines, coupled with ammunition and a firearm
    are well proven to be Destructive Devices. But where do we draw
    the line. I would support a 10 round magazine limit. Hell, we have
    that in California now, as well as every currently suggested so
    called common sense reasonable gun control law being yapped
    about on MSM. New York State has passed a 7 round limit for
    detachable magazines, so maybe my NRA had a point when I
    advocated we accept a 10 round limit, years ago. The point was
    and remains, give the DiFi & Chucky Schumer type gun grabbers
    an inch and they will take a mile. Let's keep an eye on S.2095!

  20. Peter Aydelotte November 12, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    Well written and thought out. When seconds count the police are minutes away.
    Most of my high capacity magazines and semiautomatic firearms were purchased as a law enforcement officer in times of civil unrest, I did not want to be stranded and a weapon in the trunk of the vehicle would help me get out of an area in case of a vehicle break down, the crowds were killing people in the streets after all!!

    We do live in strange times and my biggest fears are of mentally unstable folks with weapons. There does need to be more stringent back ground checks.

  21. Darrell Porath November 12, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi. I do not believe the general public should have access to bump-stocks, double tap triggers or high capacity (100 round) magazines. In addition, despite what AZ law allows, people shouldn’t be allowed to carry firearms concealed (where bars don’t prohibit it with signs) in bars (the law says you can carry concealed unless prohibited by the bar owner as long as you don’t drink. That’s foolish; in my opinion, guns and booze don’t mix. EVER, regardless of who has the weapon. Also in AZ, you shouldn’t be able to carry concealed unless you take and pass a concealed carry class. Finally, concealed carry card holders should have to take the class again to renew their card)…currently they don’t in AZ, you are mailed a renewal card after answering a few questions on a questionnaire.

  22. Adamsalan November 13, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

    Marshall, you say “There is no foolproof answer. But we can do better. All we need is to apply common sense.” Maybe the starting point should be enforcing the already over 20,000 laws that are currently on the books across America.
    It has been my experience when one of the charges against a person is a “gun charge” that is the first one to be dropped.
    I don’t believe we need more laws.

  23. I. Richard Jacobs November 28, 2017 at 9:21 am #

    You is absolutely right that there is no rational argument in favor of allowing assault weapons, 30 round clips, Teflon coated bullets capable of piercing a police vest unless the “2nd amendment” people who value free enterprise believe in the constitutional right to pursue a career in armored car robbery.
    I fully understand that the proposed limits on weapons could never approach the cataclysmic effect of professional athletes kneeling before tens of thousands in person and millions more connected by TV and radio to show their objection to CERTAIN govt policies.
    The Nazis are allowed to march in ILL, the KKK IN THE NORTH, rioters waving the confederate flag against the USA marched in VA, but those athletes who kneeled during the national anthem are far worse then any and all of the above.
    As the kids simply and clearly say “GET REAL”.

  24. Snake Hunter{s} December 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    Sir Edward Hensley

    I do appreciate & approve of your common-sense response to Marshall’s fine essay.


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