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Common sense and the right to bear arms

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From page A11 | January 11, 2013 |

Do the arguments in support of the right to bear arms made in 1791 hold true today? Common sense tells us not. Here’s why:

Gun rights advocates almost always wrap their arguments around the Second Amendment with the conviction that this right is sacrosanct and inviolable . . . a notion that is disabused by Article Five of the Constitution and the framers’ intent to create a “living document.”

Many advocates possess an intensely spiritual devotion to the notion that Americans possess an a-priori right to self-defense through the ownership of firearms of all forms and fashions. In fact, conservatively oriented legal scholars describe gun ownership as a moral and civic responsibility primarily on the basis of its assumed propensity to reduce the tyrannical impulses of government.

Simply translated, their argument holds that citizens rightfully maintain a duty to kill each other with guns when the appropriate legal conditions permit.

This is unquestionably a draconian perspective on human rights and social order in a mature democracy. It also bespeaks a deeper, almost cavalier, disregard for the sanctity of human life, and particularly in a society deeply troubled by economic inequities, social injustices, a permissive culture and the myriad unsavory consequences of such conditions on human behavior.

Over time the Second Amendment has perversely undermined its original intent through the heinous actions of disturbed individuals by offering them virtually unfettered access to firearms.

If acts of gun violence were uncommon events, arguments against gun ownership might well be subordinate to the framers’ intentions more than 230 years ago. But gun violence is of epidemic proportions in America and common sense tells us that the behaviors and motives of too many citizens are sufficiently suspect to support unregulated access to guns and ammunition.

The government’s ability to control murderously disturbed people in a society that ardently protects individual rights and privacy is limited both legally and practically. It’s ability to control guns and ammunition is considerably less so. That’s just common sense.

Stephen Davis

Fairfield

Letter to the Editor

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Discussion | 12 comments

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  • The MisterJanuary 11, 2013 - 8:51 am

    Obviously, Stephen, you are more part of the problem than part of the solution.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • StR....ReallyJanuary 12, 2013 - 4:02 pm

    Dear this comment offers no useful information.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • pornacJanuary 11, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    did you hear about the 2 gun nuts carrying assault rifles in a mall in portland? scared the hell out of a lot off people. they are the problem. they were legal. But cops had to respond because people don't know who the bad guys are.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The shootings are a PsyopsJanuary 11, 2013 - 12:29 pm

    Google........Staged mind control shootings

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Little Stephen hasn't got a clue.January 11, 2013 - 5:47 pm

    A Individual's right to bear arms is also protection against a Tyrannical Government.. When our Kenyan President starts talking about changing our Constitution by Executive privilege...It's time to get Locked and Loaded!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The SugarJarJanuary 11, 2013 - 6:11 pm

    what time is it when people start talking about "kenyan" president and getting "locked and loaded"?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 11, 2013 - 6:32 pm

    Dumb time.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dumb Time or Stupid StuffJanuary 11, 2013 - 7:01 pm

    This comment (above) was not by StR or The Mister

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • I am being Censored AgainJanuary 11, 2013 - 7:05 pm

    The "system" is only letting me post selected items.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Check outJanuary 11, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    wwwrealityzonecom

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895January 12, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    LSHGC: You need more oxygen. Get out of your bubble and breath a little.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895January 12, 2013 - 2:19 pm

    I disagree with much of what Mr. Davis wrote, but I agree with his general idea that people don’t understand gun rights, and we really can’t have a useful discussion without finding some common understanding. I don’t see how Article V (regarding the process for amending the Constitution) supports the idea that the Framers intended to create a “living document.” That term is usually used to refer to constitutional interpretation, not the possibility of amendment. While the right to bear arms may not be “sacrosanct and inviolable,” it’s in the Constitution, and we have to deal with that one way or another. It’s true that many people believe in “God-given rights,” and include in that the right to self-defense and therefore the right to bear arms. But the counter argument to that is not that that particular right is not “God-given,” but rather that no rights are “God-given,” or even if they are, that’s not an argument we can use in a secular society governed by a secular constitution. I assume Mr. Davis’s digression on the “moral duty and civic responsibility” of gun ownership can be summarized as “putting more faith in the gun in your closet than in the Constitution.” Certainly there are a lot of good reasons to own guns, but NOT among those is to protect yourself and others from the government. That is best done by defending the Constitution, politically protecting the rights of others, and generally becoming educated about our government and participating in it. Mr. Davis tells us that we should not follow the Framers’ intentions today due to changed conditions, but he doesn’t tell us what he thinks the Framers’ intentions were. I think the intent of the Second Amendment was both for self-protection and to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. But there are other, better ways to defend the Constitution today, 230 years later. In fact, it is probably futile to try to defend the Constitution as a private citizen with arms. We now have a standing military to provide for national defense and well-tried institutions to defend the Constitution domestically. So the right to bear arms today is much more about self-defense, and those who cling to other arguments are denying history and the present reality. When it comes to self-defense, we are much better off putting our faith in communal protection, through laws and regulations, than that gun in our closet.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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