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Posts Tagged ‘Second amendment’

The recent murders of school children and teachers at Sandy Hook have once again caused the American people to examine their “right to bear arms”. More specifically, the question has arisen is this, “Why do ordinary citizens need assault weapons”? The answer that is usually given is that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the second amendment to the Constitution. The text of the amendment is brief, simply stating that: “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”. If one were to live somewhere far from the U.S., like perhaps on Mars, one might be forgiven having the understanding that the U.S. has a militia, i.e. volunteer soldiers who are normally just farmers and so forth, but who are ready to go to war at a moment’s notice. You might call such a group Minutemen and you would be right, although you would be off by a couple of centuries. Indeed, the United States was once protected by citizen soldiers who were called Minutemen and who were expected to be ready with a minute’s notice. For this reason every citizen had to have his own firearm handy in case he had to rush off to war against the British, or the French, or the Spanish, or even those pesky Native Americans who kept thinking they owned the land that the Europeans called America.

However, times change, and the reason for the second amendment has long passed into the dustbin of history. Which is why the supporters of “gun rights” always talk about the second clause of the second amendment and not the first clause. Nevertheless, one might argue that some sort of precedent exists, given that people have owned guns for over 200 years in the U.S. and that militia groups still exist, as in Texas; however, I don’t think that anyone could seriously contend that the militia groups of today are a serious defense against other nations who have nuclear bombs, ICBMs, and armies that number in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions. The defense against those potential threats is relegated to the standing Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine forces of the U.S. The militias, such as they are, are of little to no value against modern threats from advanced countries. Even so, there are a lot of Americans who want their own guns, and not just guns, they want assault-style weapons. Why? One might ask. Surely you don’t need an assault weapon to defend yourself from a burglar who might break into your house in the middle of the night. Isn’t a pistol under your pillow much more convenient? Sure it is, and it was the typical solution for that problem for many Americans for many, many years.

An assault-style weapon can fire many, many bullets in a short period of time, perhaps 50-100 bullets in a minute. In comparison, a military assault rifle can fire close to 1,000 bullets per minute. So, the question must arise, why does the average American homeowner need an assault-style weapon? Surely, he’s not expecting to have a shootout with a burglar which requires the capability to fire 50-100 bullets in a minute, is he? Under what circumstances would the average American citizen need this firepower, let alone the firepower of a true assault rifle. Could it for hunting deer or maybe ducks? Imagine shooting a deer with 50 – 100 bullets, or maybe hitting a duck with all that lead. Does that make any sense? Could it be that the typical American gun owner is such a bad shot that he needs 50-100 rounds per minute just to hit a deer or a duck? I don’t think so.

The reason Americans want assault weapons – even multiple assault weapons – in their homes is this: they think they need them. Need them? For what? you say. The answer is found in the name of the weapon itself. They are used for conducting an assault – or for defending against an assault. Let us assume that most Americans are not planning an assault (with the exception of the numerous crazies out there who are clearly planning assaults with assault-style weapons). The typical American who wants assault-style weapons can only feel he has the need for one of these weapons if he is indeed fearing an imminent assault from someone else. From who? You say. Fidel Castro? No, of course not. It’s simple: it’s from THEM…. THEM…. Get it?

In case you are not familiar with THEM, THEM is the “others”, a group of people that is different from us, a group who wants our stuff, a group who, one day, will rise up and try to seize the property of TRUE Americans. That’s why Americans not only need assault weapons, it also why they need underground bunkers, a year’s worth of food and fuel, booby trapped properties, secret stashes of money, and so forth. It is a belief amongst the “haves” that the “havenots” are about to rise up in rebellion and take their stuff. Its a fear of class warfare. Its like a religious belief. It actually is a religious belief for some of these people. The end times are coming. The good and the bad will do battle – so the good need their assault weapons. It’s a combination of these ingredients and more that drive Americans to crave assault weapons.

So there you go… and you probably thought these people were just crazy or something.

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Or should I have entitled this, “The Insane Right Has Guns”?

The recent events in Tucson, Arizona will be argued – they are already being argued – by both sides of the gun issue. Nevertheless, all must agree that this event should not have happened. Was it the fault of Sarah Palin just because she labeled Representative Gabrielle Gifford’s district with a gunsight? Let’s not be silly, right Sarah? After all, just because Gabrielle complained about the gunsight  imagery and that it would have consequences does that really mean that anyone would have somehow been inspired by that? Does it? Surely no crazy person would have been influenced by that, right Sarah? Sleep well, Sarah. It was just a horrible coincidence – wasn’t it?

It would be easy to talk about the current political climate and how ever since the Tea Party spun itself up that politics have become ugly. There is a lot of nastiness in general, untrue accusations about the birth of our President, untrue accusations about health care and “Death Panels”, and untrue accusations about the disastrous state of the economy being due to President Obama instead of the insane economics of George Bush. It goes on and on. Gross lies and misrepresentations from the extreme right. Its proper name is propaganda. The question we must ask now is this: have they finally gone too far?

However, before we go there, we need to take a look at one of America’s sacred rights (it seems to have the same quality as a religious belief), the right to bear arms. The Second Amendment to the Constitution (apparently the writers of the Constitution had forgotten about this, so they had to put it in as an amendment). The entire extent of the Second Amendment reads simply, “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.” That’s it. A couple of years ago the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrated its knowledge of the English language by ruling that the right to bear arms has nothing to do with being in a Militia. This is the same Supreme Court that recently ruled that corporations have the same free speech rights as living people. Our Supreme Court is undoubtedly inspired by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where he says, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – nothing more nor less”.

Speaking of the Constitution, would it be possible to talk about it rationally for a moment? Let’s face it. It is a document written by people who lived in the U.S. over 200 years ago and it was written to address their needs. They were intelligent people, these writers of the Constitution, and they knew that times change and needs change. So, they put in the ability to amend the Constitution by their successors. The people who wrote the Constitution did not believe they were writing as religious document that could not be questioned, modified, or improved. That is the whole reason they built in the capability to write amendments. They were sensible people. Unlike a lot of people we hear on far-right-wing television and radio today. You know who I mean.

We seem to have reached a point where we are unable to conduct intelligent discourse amongst ourselves. Everything is presented as a life or death decision. I guess that’s how you sell “news”. The problem is that this is poisonous news and it is poisoning our country. A case in point is the recent mass murder that took place in Tucson. The killer, by all accounts, is nuts. His classmates in school were afraid of him. One of them even said they thought he might bring a gun to class. He was, by all accounts, nearly incoherent. He couldn’t say a complete, meaningful sentence. Oh, and another thing – he had a gun. And he used it. Now, any sensible person would say that crazy people should not have guns – but not the gun lobby and the far extreme right. For these people guns are a sacred right enshrined in a sacred document – the Constitution.

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of other things”. Indeed. We Americans need to begin a sensible discussion about this subject, the subject of guns. I don’t want insane people to have guns. I also don’t want insane people to be brain surgeons or airline pilots. The airlines have figured out how to keep the insanity out of the cockpit. Same for the hospitals – there’s no insanity in the operating room. So why can’t we keep guns out of the hands of the criminally insane? And please, don’t tell me because it is our God-given right for all Americans to bear arms. The more we, as a people, persist in deluding ourselves about issues that only require common sense solutions, the more we will find that we are building an insane culture that can’t even make sense of the English language (sort of like the Supreme Court). It’s time for the ranting fanatics like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the rest of the Fox mob to just back off – they are stirring up the crazies – and I suspect they know it. It is time for a little civilization in America.

As Lewis Carroll said, “If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’ it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later”.

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It happened again today, a psychotic man with a gun went on a rampage and killed several people.  There have been previous incidents, more shocking perhaps.  Columbine and Virginia Tech come to mind.  Remember the D.C. snipers a few years ago that terrorized that area?  The more I think about it, the more I realize that far from being unusual, this type of behavior happens all the type. People, who we think are stable and happy, suddenly just go out and run amok and kill people.

It’s interesting that the word “amok” is one of the very few words that has made it into the English language from the Malay language (now called Bahasa Malaysia).  People run amok in Malaysia too, except they tend to do so with parangs rather than guns because private ownership of guns is essentially outlawed in Malaysia.  The parang, a very big knife, sort of the same thing as a machete, is the usual weapon of choice and those men (they always seem to be men rather than women) who run amok typically choose a crowded village location to suddenly lash out at everyone in sight.  The person who runs amok will continue to try to kill everyone he encounters until he is subdued or killed by the villagers.  It is behavior that is not too different from our American psychos, except that the damage is usually less severe because parangs just can’t compete with guns when it comes to killing people.

Malaysia, and a lot of other countries, has dealt with the threat to the general population from psychos with guns by banning gun ownership and then strictly enforcing the ban.  The penalty for illegal ownership of a gun, or even a bullet, in Malaysia is death.  Same with Singapore.  The result is that you can walk the streets at night in Kuala Lumpur and feel a lot safer there than you would in New York City or Philadelphia or Washington D.C.

We are faced with a severe problem, a threat to public safety, that time has shown we are incapable of addressing effectively.  Despite countless massacres and loss of life, we have been unable to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of psychos.  We have also been unable to find an effective way to protect the people from psychos with guns.  The question is why?  Why is it that so many other countries are able to deal with this problem effectively and we can’t?  It seems to me that the reason is fear: fear that unless we have our guns we won’t be safe, especially from all the psychos who have guns.

Despite all the arguments made by those who favor gun ownership, our Constitution gives only one, single, justification for owning guns: the need for a militia.  Over the years this has been interpreted as guaranteeing the right to own guns even though the individual is not a member of any militia at all.  Gun ownership in the U.S. is pretty much a right enjoyed by anyone who feels the need for one (or more).  Yet, the most outspoken advocates of gun ownership, like the NRA, have never produced a viable solution for our very serious problem. What do we do to protect ourselves from psychos with guns?

Malaysia, the land that invented running amok and killing people, has solved the problem, but their solution is not acceptable for many Americans.  OK.  So what is the solution? How do we prevent future Columbines and Virginia Techs?  How do we prevent future attacks such as the one that happened today in a crowded gym? Why is the gun lobby silent on this issue? Why doesn’t the NRA come forward and present a solution that will keep us safe? It seems to me that those who are the most strident, adamant, and vocal about preserving their Constitutional right to bear arms also have a moral obligation to find a way to protect the lives of the unarmed and  innocent men, women, and children from the apparently limitless supply of psychos with guns in America.

So why the silence?

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