Another Look at the Second Amendment

Topeka Capital-Journal
Dec. 16, 1992

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution, one of the original 10 known as the Bill of Rights, says: “Right to keep and bear arms. 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 all it says. It became law toward the end of 1791, when an armed and ready militia was necessary, because the security of the newly-created country was shaky. There was a real need for every able-bodied man to be armed and prepared to defend the nation against the British, French, the Indians or whomever.

But that was then, and this is now. The amendment qualifies the right of the people to keep and bear arms by saying armed citizens are needed to make up the militia that protects our security from the possible threats of outsiders.

Now, we don’t need militia, or a citizen Army, and it’s a good thing, because we are exactly 180 degrees away from having well-regulated armed citizens protecting our security.

In terms of physical security, what this country needs more than anything else is protection from the people who have the guns. If you insist on saying our armed citizens today resemble militia in any constructive way, you still have to admit they are not well regulated.

They’re totally unregulated, to the point that today we need most of our armed citizens like we need another visit by the Black Plague. What we do need is regulation of some sort to get guns out of the hands of those who use them to kill and threaten the citizens the Second Amendment was designed to protect.

These guns are in the hands of schoolchildren as young as first graders. They are in the hands of teenage street toughs in gangs, and they hands of addicts and loonies, and of course in the hands of your everyday hardworking armed criminal.

Handguns with the real problem, and there are an estimated 70 million of them out there. The simple solution would be for Congress to rework the Constitution and limit the right of the average citizen to “keep and bear” only those weapons designed for hunting and target shooting.

Short-barreled handguns, designed and used almost exclusively to shoot people at close range would be banned. So would sophisticated assault weapons that can kill a lot of people at longer range.

But face it. Congress isn’t going to do that, and the main reason is that when it comes to gun control the majority in Congress listens only to the lobbyists of the super powerful National Rifle Association, aka the National Handgun Proliferation Society.

The NRA, through its political contributions in the threatening power of its millions of hardcore members, flatly refuses to permit Congress to clamp any kind of control on handguns. Its reasoning is that control of one kind of gun will lead to control of all guns. The NRA won’t even tolerate a waiting period in the purchase of a handgun.

A more reasonable approach has taken by Dr. Robert Cotton of Topeka, who writes:

“Some time ago, I addressed letters to both of our Senators (Kassebaum and Dole) and to Rep. Slattery, asking their support for federal gun-control legislation. Their answers were almost identical in that they expressed opposition to a federal law.

“It is evident to me that only a federal law would be of significant benefit. I would like to see federal legislation mandating a waiting period and outlawing Saturday Night Specials (handguns). None of these measures would greatly inconvenience hunters, target shooters, or those wanting a gun for protection.”

As long as the NRA has Congress in is hip pocket, nothing is going to happen to slow the distribution of handguns. The handgun carnage will go on, and the NRA and its gun advocates will continue to insist the Second Amendment is sacred and must not be disturbed.

Larry Fisher of Topeka, the crusader for many causes, is one man who believe that, and also believes that in this war to preserve the right to keep and bear arms there are, as the military says, acceptable casualties. He writes:

“Concerning your position on handgun control, perhaps it is better that some die in order to protect the larger truth. That truth is that hunting has nothing to do with the Second Amendment; that personal defense and defense against tyranny does. Tyranny will always kill more children than random acts of violence or accidents.”

Fisher also sent me a quote by William Pitt and rebuttal to my saying handgun controls are necessary: “necessity is the plea for every infringement of human liberty; it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

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