“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 Thus, the language is outdated.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.