My thoughts on the gun control debate: Assault weapons ban won't work - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

My thoughts on the gun control debate: Assault weapons ban won’t work

In light of the current gun control measures being proposed and debated by our Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government, we need to consider whether these measures will sustain the security of the United States of America well into the future and in part sustain a path that will effectively reduce gun violence.

The center piece of these measures is the bill that Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator for California, introduced to the people on Jan. 24th, 2013. The bill proposes an Act that is titled by its short text as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The first sentence of the proposed Act reads:

“To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”

To answer these questions, it is essential to first understand what led The Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) to be ratified following ratification of the Constitution. The ratification of the Constitution occurred after tense debates and in part mitigated by an understanding that a bill of rights would be debated and ratified to place limits on the power of the Federal Government. Those who had opposed the ratification of the Constitution argued passionately that without a bill of rights, certain rights of the people were not protected under the proposed Constitution.

The first sentence of the Preamble to The Bill of Rights clearly states how it addressed these concerns: “The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.” This is neither obscure in its meaning or its placement in The Bill of Rights. It was written with such clarity and emphasis to ensure the nation’s people would never forget the purpose of The Bill of Rights and instill a need for timeless vigilance to protect the declaratory and restrictive clauses (the first ten amendments). The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone to preventing the Federal Government from any deliberate misinterpretation of its powers and/or abuse of its power.

For its part, the Second Amendment was established to prevent “misconstruction or abuse of [its] power” by means of “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. [Its] refers to the Federal Government. It is at what point in time when a well regulated militia might be needed that makes the last part of the Second Amendment (the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed) so critical and essential to ensuring the amendment remains an effective constraint or check and balance. There may not be a need for a well regulated militia at the present time, tomorrow, or 100 years from now, however the Founders clearly understood that history teaches us that abuse of power may occur at the most unlikely of times and by the most unlikely of men and women.

I believe a well regulated militia as described in the Second Amendment does not refer to the National Guard nor the uniformed/elite branches of the U.S. Department of Defense. Some may argue that the National Guard is in fact the well regulated militia that was envisioned or intended by the Second Amendment, but I disagree in that the National Guard is an uniformed/elite force created by Congress’ war power and the weapons which outfit the National Guard are procured and owned by the Federal Government… not the Arms which the Second Amendment affirms are a right of the people to keep and bear.

Notice the emphasis the authors of the Second Amendment placed on the word “Arms” by capitalizing it. Without Arms to be taken up by the people when needed, there would be no means to assemble a well regulated militia. Some argue that the authors of the amendment could not have envisioned the type of Arms that would evolve over time, including the group of Arms (semiautomatic firearms) that are the subject of the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. On the contrary, I believe the authors anticipated and predicted that Arms would in fact evolve over time, and for that reason they did not specifically classify or provide a list of Arms that would be appropriate for the people to keep and bear. The right was intended to include those Arms that would be equivalent to those that would be carried by individual solders of the time so as to ensure that a well regulated militia if needed would remain an effective constraint or check and balance for all time.

It is important to note, the Second Amendment does not specifically define the right to keep and bear Arms for the purpose of personal protection, to protect personal property, or to affirm the right to hunt with Arms…. it is first and foremost intended to ensure the ability of the people to assemble when needed a well regulated militia to ensure the security of a free State. The above aspects of owning Arms, though important, I believe are ancillary and a privilege afforded to the individual citizen, but these aspects should never overshadow the intended purpose of the people’s right to keep and bear Arms.

I believe our Founders expected and demanded the people to never forget the purpose of the right to keep and bear Arms. I believe they also expected us to ensure this right is never compromised through vigilant education, training and instilling a deep respect for the Arms that we keep and bear. This, so we may have the necessary Arms if one day they are needed to protect our free state. I believe as a nation, we have become complacent and negligent by not fulfilling our Founder’s expectations on this matter. Consequently, the security of our free state is in jeopardy by not addressing head-on the gun violence issue. It is here where we the people need to step-up as individuals at the state and local levels to reconcile and correct where we have become complacent and negligent to protecting this incredibly important right.

I believe the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is a clear case of the Federal Government imposing an unconstitutional infringement against the people’s right to keep and bear Arms, but it’s also either a deliberate attempt, or at best, an unintended reckless consequence to weaken the Second Amendment.

In this case, this infringement involves a broad group of semiautomatic firearms which are the types of Arms in part used by the individual soldier of today. These are precisely the Arms I believe the authors of The Bill of Rights intended to be protected under the Second Amendment.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 includes the following two types of infringement to keep and bear Arms: 1.) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon (including rifles, pistols, and shotguns), and 2.) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

I strongly believe the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 if signed into law also creates a real risk by creating a precedent for the Federal Government over time to systematically infringe against the people’s right to keep and bear Arms. Especially, if we do not work to effectively reduce gun violence now thereby leaving the door open for the Federal Government to propose measures that would exponentially limit gun ownership in the future.

Fully automatic firearms are already highly regulated requiring stringent certifications in all 50 states such that few outside law enforcement are able to legally own. In several states, most if not all the semiautomatic firearms identified either by specific manufacturer and model or classified by specific features in the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 are already highly regulated. As it stands today,

due to complacency and negligence at the state and local levels to ensure a proactive approach to implementing, enforcing and updating effective measures to sustaining responsible firearm ownership and use, misuse of firearms has led to a modern-day pattern of tragedies which has resulted in great losses of life. As a result, we the People have unwittingly invited the Federal Government to convene on a subject that the Founders had intended to be off-limits to the Federal Government as affirmed by the purpose of the Bill of Rights.

People of the United States… Wake up. Now is the time if there has never been one in your life, to perform your civic duty to this nation by getting involved in the gun control debate at the federal, state and local levels. The debate is as much about how to effectively address gun violence as one to ensure that the Constitutional right to keep and bear Arms is not compromised in any way by our Federal Government.

The question should then be, “How do we effectively reduce gun violence without infringing on the people’s right to keep and bear Arms, thereby affirming and preserving the purpose of the Bill of Rights.” This is no easy task, but then the People’s business of governing to sustain a free State has and never will be easy. On this matter, our Founders would have expected no less than our full attention and commitment.

The threat of the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is not only to the personal privileges of gun ownership, but also a threat to the ability of today’s and tomorrow’s generations to ensure the security of a free State as intended by those who ratified both the Constitution and The Bill of Rights. It is at the state, local and individual levels where deliberation and measures should be undertaken to achieve and sustain responsible firearm ownership/use (i.e. firearm safety training and securely storing firearms) which in part will work to also effectively reduce gun violence.

I believe an important pillar to solving the gun violence epidemic involves firearm education, training and instilling a deep respect for Arms. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution in fact reserves the right of the States and/or the people to pursue this approach, where the power of the Federal government is specifically restricted from doing so in accordance with the Second Amendment on the subject of Arms.

Another important pillar to reducing gun violence includes: 1.) the aggressive enforcement of an existing array of comprehensive gun laws and sentencing those found guilty of violating these laws to the full extent permitted, 2.) each state independently review their background check system for vetting gun purchases and reform as needed to ensure their system functions effectively to prevent criminals and those mentally incompetent from owning or using firearms, and 3.) each state undertake a comprehensive, non-partisan inclusive, fact based approach to uncover the set of unique causes of gun violence in their state, and then afterwards craft and implement effective measures to mitigate gun violence.

As a follow-on effort to item three, each state must then continuously and vigilantly assess the effectiveness of all measures to combat gun violence, and refine/reform as needed to sustain an effective anti-gun violence program for the long term.

I strongly believe the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 represents a short-sighted approach driven by emotion and political ideology that will do nothing to effectively address gun violence, as well as have the unintended reckless consequence of weakening the Second Amendment. I further believe, strongly, the above pillars together can affect measurable and effective means to significantly reduce gun violence without infringing in any way the people’s right to keep and bear Arms.


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