Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keep and Bear Arms

As a cranky conservative I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't spend some time on the second amendment to the Constitution. In my humble opinion the Bill of Rights is as sacred as the body of the Constitution itself. This is because the first thing that the Bill of Rights does is to state and affirm the rights of the individual that the government cannot intrude on, alter, or take away. The first nine of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights protect the rights of the individual citizen. It is not until the tenth amendment that protection for a state is guaranteed against the power of the federal government. The right to"keep and bear arms" falls to the individual not to a state military as some would have us believe.
I also believe that the framers put the Bill of Rights in order of importance. The first, of course, is freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. The second is the "right to keep and bear arms". I feel that the framers realized that there is always the potential for a government to turn totalitarian and subjugate it's citizens. This has happened so many times in history. They felt that an armed populace was a free populace.

To be up front here, I have been a shooter most of my life. I first shot a gun when I was ten years old, and up to last Fall, have been shooting regularly ever since. I took most pleasure in shooting handguns at targets. I have enjoyed the companionship of other shooters at various gun clubs and in the field. I have been honored to shoot beside some of the finest shots in the country. I have never been among a more modest, unassuming, friendly group of people in my life. I never saw one iota of arrogance or anger to another person when I have been in their company.

People  have firearms, primarily, for three reasons; for sport, for competition, or for protection. People who want or need to carry a gun for protection are required to get a concealed carry permit in almost every area of the country. The process varies from state to state and some cities have their own rules. But for the most part it requires a records check by a police agency, a safety test, and a proficiency test. The owner of a CCP can lose it with any infraction of local gun laws. Those that have them, value them and don't want to lose them. Their weapons stay holstered except under extreme circumstances. Someone said to me, "I don't want everybody to be walking around with a gun. That would create anarchy". I don't think so. In the first place not everyone wants to carry a gun. Secondly, a lot of folks could not make it through the process. If you take the trouble to examine the statistics, it is illegal guns and those that are used illegally that create most of the problems. There are a few that slip through the process but those are very few. An area where no one is armed is a free fire area for someone determined to do harm.
The cities of New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. have laws so onerous that most people can't even own a gun to keep in their home. Surprisingly enough, those cities have a very high incidence of firearms crime. The bumper sticker slogan, "When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws  Will Have Guns" is true. The bad people always find a way to get them. By the way, in areas where gun laws are liberal to the honest citizen crime goes down. I recommend the book "More Guns Less Crime" by John Lott. This is a scholarly study of shooting incidents. The statistics will amaze anyone the takes an honest look at them. It appears to me, that those that are most opposed and loudest to proclaim being against civilian ownership of guns are limousine liberals that live in gated communities and are well protected by personal security.
A lot of people fear guns at a gut level. They don't like them and never will. They don't understand them. They fear their power. But at its basic level a gun is just a tool. In the hands of someone who is trained and capable it can be a very useful tool. An automobile is more powerful, more dangerous, and capable of doing far more damage. But cars are familiar. Our first memories of cars is riding with mommy and daddy. They are comfortable to us so we don't fear them. Britain took the step of eliminating firearms ownership for the average citizen and crimes of violence actually went up.
I am not attempting to convert anyone here. I just ask that we forgo knee jerk reactions regarding guns and the second amendment. Do everything possible to stem the sales of illegal weapons but without onerous demands of those of us that are legal. It is illegal guns in the hands of thugs that cause the danger. It's a dangerous world and people have to be responsible for their own safety. The police cannot be everyplace. One must look to their own resources for whatever level of protection that they feel is necessary.

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