Letters to editor

Second Amendment means what it says

By From page A7 | January 17, 2013

I’m writing in response to the Jan. 11 letter, “Common sense and the right to bear arms,” by Stephen Davis. Let’s do some fact checks.

It has only been 221 years since the Bill of Rights was ratified. Mr. Davis said “more than 230 years ago.” The process began March 4, 1789, and ended with ratification Dec. 15, 1791.

The FBI says gun violence is declining. Mr. Davis said “gun violence is of epidemic proportions.” Mr. Davis is winning me over. It must be the big words he likes to use.

I have a challenge for Mr. Davis. Since he seems to be so anti-gun, he should put a sign in his front yard that declares his home to be a gun-free zone. If he lives in an apartment or condo, he could put it on his door. Then from time to time, he can get back to us and let us know how that is working for him.

Let me break down the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated (provisioned or armed) militia (anyone over 18 and under 45 unless you want to if you are older), being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people (you and I) to keep (own) and bear (keep on your person) arms (it doesn’t say hunting rifles or shotguns only) shall not be infringed (not to be modified).”

We have the right to keep ARs and what we call AKs in case we are called to help stop an internal tyrannical government or some other tyrannical government from invading our country. We the people have to be the guardians of our nation.

Edward A. Doolin


Letter to the Editor


Discussion | 39 comments

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  • rlw895January 16, 2013 - 8:44 pm

    That's what it says, but is that what it means? We let the Supreme Court decide that. The First Amendment says, among other things, "Congress [now extended to all governments] shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech," but the Court has allowed such laws under certain special conditions. The Court has held that a complete ban on keeping a handgun in one's home is unconstitutional. The ban on automatic weapons remains, as does one against sawed-off shotguns. The right to bear arms does not take complete precedence over the ability of government to provide for public health and safety or over other rights. A balancing is necessary. Investigating what the Founders intended with the Second Amendment is interesting and instructive. I think it was to keep the federal government from disbanding state militias and replacing them with a standing army. Like the 17th Century English, the Americans had fears about the sovereign (or in American’s case, the federal government) having the only army in the country. If you recall, states' rights was a big deal at the founding, much more than today. The states, more than individuals, wanted to be able to fight a tyrannical federal government that might try to do something like, say, free the slaves. That explains the Second Amendment’s reference to a “well-regulated militia;” it was the states that were talking, not individuals. Preserving slavery as a state issue was a big deal at the founding, if you recall. It drove national politics for decades, and sure enough, that pesky federal government turned too abolitionist for the South's liking. So the South mustered up their militias and left the Union. Four years and 600,000 lives later, the North’s assertion that the Union could not be dissolved won out, and by the time the Civil War was over, it was obvious to everyone that abolition won out too. With the slavery issue resolved, the country lost its fear of a standing army, and state militias took on a new role as the National Guard. So, after all this history, does the Second Amendment mean the same thing today that it did 220+ years ago? Should it? And even if it does, should it carry the same weight, or is it merely a historical curiosity? I would say it’s not the latter, but it also should not carry the same weight as it did before. There is an individual right to own firearms, but that does not extend to military-style weapons because the “well-regulated militia” of 18th Century America with a relatively weak federal government no longer exists and a standing army with a strong federal government does. Of course, I expect people who think the South was right in 1860 might disagree.

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 12:20 am

    Rich..I can a machine gun,a silencer,special ammo anything I want in PA..TODAY..in fact a store in my town sells them..you need to cough up some special fees but you can legally buy machine guns in PA...God Bless America!!

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 12:25 am

    That's I can BUY a machine gun etc..oh and your RLW not Rich..thought that post sounded a little over researched and irrelevant..

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  • Former FF residentJanuary 17, 2013 - 1:01 am

    Didn't the citizens of the 1860's also have "military style" weapons? In some ways I would submit that the citizenry was actually armed with more impressive firepower than the military being that they have repeating rifles while the army had muzzle loaders. Does the 2nd amendment mean the same thing today? Does "shall not be infringed" still mean the same thing today as it did then?

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 8:39 am

    To the responsible gun owner..I think the whole assault weapon thing is the camels nose under the tent...there are cases DC for instance where gun banning and violent crime caused the latter to INCREASE dramatically..step back..Barack ain't geting no guns...

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  • laffsatliersJanuary 17, 2013 - 6:41 am

    The last sentence of rlw895's long-winded, tortuous exposition of nothing gives away his true intentions: use a nasty throw-away line to besmirch anyone who disagrees with him. Hogwash!

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 9:00 am

    Thank God that's not Rich..Conservative people usually don't do long posts..RLW..that post was bit overresearched but thinking of 600K dead..a good reminder for that...thank you.

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  • rlw895January 17, 2013 - 11:32 am

    Some good comments. Let me start out by saying that I’m a lawyer, so I was trying to make a legal argument in relatively few words and without a lot of citations and footnotes (too much work). The case I presented is entirely plausible, given the way the Court analyzes the Constitution. You may prefer pithy comments and answers (I do too), but that’s not what lawyers or courts do. Not every subject can be reduced to a one-liner. I appreciate G-Man correcting me about the ban on automatic weapons. It’s not a ban, but automatic weapons are so regulated it’s practically a ban. The Web site I visited on the subject after reading G-Man says a person here can’t legally own an automatic weapon made after 1986, and the importation of automatic weapons from overseas for domestic consumption is prohibited (no cheap Chinese knock-offs like we have for so much else). The upshot is it’s actually hard to get an automatic weapon in this country, and the ones you can find for sale are exceedingly expensive. So, G-Man, how much do those PA automatic weapons cost? If it’s over $5,000 for a military-style rifle, I rest my case. Former FF Res: Yes, citizens in 1860 often had military-style weapons of the day. In fact, many of those weapons were used in the Civil War, especially on the South side. What’s your point, that the government should be restricted from banning military-style weapons today just because in 1860 people had them? I answered the “shall not be infringed” question already; it means what the Court says it means, and it’s not just in Second Amendment where that applies. G-Man: The “camel’s nose” argument is a reasonable one, but should we stay in a bad place just because we might end up in a worse place if we move? I think that’s highly unlikely in this case. I mean, after all, there IS a Second Amendment, and the Court has ruled that it means something. Plus, even if the government could ban all weapons, there are political forces against that. True, some cities have tried to go as far as banning handguns in private homes, but they are relatively few, and the Court has ruled such bans unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. Laffs: My last sentence wasn’t referring to supporting slavery, as I assume you think, but rather to supporting states’ rights as they existed prior to the Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments (13-15). Scholars still argue whether the South had the law on its side in 1861, but that became moot when it couldn’t enforce its position and the Constitution was amended after the war. So, I AM avoiding name-calling and am trying to engage civilly. A little more reciprocation would be in order.

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  • rlw895January 17, 2013 - 11:39 am

    PS: And so you can see that I can be brief when that's all that's necessary, check out my comment to Hank Schwartzbach's letter.

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  • Former FF residentJanuary 17, 2013 - 12:19 pm

    What it means is that people argue that we shouldn't be allowed to have military "style" weapons; even if they don't function like the military version. Americans have had civilian versions of military weapons from every single era of our history and why should I not be allowed to do the same provided that I am not in a prohibited class? Oh, you're an attorney? Nevermind.

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 2:02 pm

    I don't see the need for fully automatic weapons..except perhaps at licensed shooting ranges to rent..I've never fired one ..but I'll bet it's fun...Did you know that it's a proven fact pitting a semi auto or a revolver even vs a full auto gun...the former two will be more accurate and hit the target much more than all those bullets flying around...that monster@ Sandy Hook didn't have a full auto...But just about every kid he hit he killed what perverse luck...the fact that there's NOT an overwhelming support for draconian gun control speaks volumes about people and their weapons...66,000,000 legal gun owners didn't harm anyone yesterday...300 million guns in circulation...like trying to stop a Tsunami w/ sand bags.

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 2:12 pm

    @RLW..Well Counselor I don't know your scope of knowledge as regards firearms. But most semi autos can be made to fire full auto or at least 3 round "auto bursts" by a gunsmith..As for buying one I don't know..as soon as I can chip my car out of my driveway..I'll go to the gun store and talk to them about it...they sell silencers too..I think you have to pay a FED TAX stamp 250.00 I believe then your gun barrel has to be machined blah blah..again I don't see the need for silencers in private hands..but would love to shoot one.

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 3:31 am

    @RLW..truth be told I have a soft spot for lawyers..go figure..the greed,you're all Dems or at least vote that way..pompous a lot..and at times just a drain on everything good about man...my wife's family is nothing but lawyers..many friends and soon my beautiful niece are JD's..I'm a paralegal (non practicing)..but I need lawyers in my business dealings...Anyway RLW you're now more than a Monogram to me now...YOU'LL NEVER GET A WORKABLE BAN ON ASSAULT WEAPONS.(Geez..those caps were my possessed Blackberry..we should ban them)..RLW listen..Some people will want access to RPGs...50Cals..Bazookas..It's too ingrained here..this is a generational problem..I know what I need...any handgun,rifle or shotgun I want...if you must make them NOT LOOK like Apocolypse Now..fine..I need at least 10rd Mags..and access to any ammo..save for incendiary or armour piercing..If possible I would also like Lindsay Lohan to come over any make me speghetti in a baby doll nightie

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  • rlw895January 18, 2013 - 1:36 pm

    G-Man: You'll be happy to learn that while I am a lawyer, I've never been tainted by the practice of law. I had another career, and I went to law school for the challenge and to get a "punched ticket" for when I had to work with lawyers. You as a paralegal certainly can understand how useful that would be. I'm proud I made it through law school and passed the bar, and I’m happy I never had to make a living as a practicing lawyer. Law school opened my eyes to a lot of things, made be a better reader, thinker, and writer, and gave me an appreciation of the role the law played in our history and continues to play in our society and culture.

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 2:06 pm

    Fair enough..I got the Paralegal Cert. Just to understand some things..knowledge is power...thanks to my paralegal studies and the help of a great Estate Atty..My wife avoided losing 1/3 of her inheritance...So you don't practice?..You keep up w/ the CE?

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  • Just saying...January 18, 2013 - 2:24 pm

    You are brilliant when not being acid.

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  • rlw895January 20, 2013 - 12:33 pm

    G-Man: I kept up with the CE for a long time, but eventually decided to go inactive with my bar membership to save money. Even so, I probably got the CE credits I needed by attending seminars related to my other work; I just never had to apply them.

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  • rlw895January 17, 2013 - 3:01 pm

    Former FF Res: I agree with you there is a definitional problem, but I think that can be resolved if not here. The “tradition” argument doesn’t carry much weight in the law. The fact that military-style weapons have become much more deadly, even the civilian versions, is what is significant. There comes a “tipping point” at which public safety outweighs tradition. I think we’re well past that point now. Can you think of another argument for why you SHOULD be able to have such a weapon? G-Man: I agree with your comments about fully automatic weapons; people should have ways to shoot them, just not own them. I said above what I would do, and it would include banning some semi-automatic weapons too; the military-style long guns. I also agree that our history and present state means we will not be adopting “draconian” gun restrictions. Democracy and checks and balances pretty well assure that. We can only go as far as the political system and the Constitution will allow, and I frankly think that means we will never be “draconian,” though we may go further as time goes on. Even then it will be well short of the camel pushing us out of the tent. And thanks for checking out further the PA automatic weapon scene for us. Isn’t modifying a semi-auto to full auto, even limited to three-round bursts illegal? Three-round bursts are enough for any sane trained professional. I remember stories from Afghanistan about how people could distinguish the U.S. fire from Afghani fire by sound. The short bursts were the U.S. guys, and the empty-the-magazine-all-at-once bursts were the Afghani guys.

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  • rlw895January 17, 2013 - 3:09 pm

    PS: Sorry, it was another letter where I said what I would do: "If it were up to me, I would ban military-style long guns (and certain related equipment, such as laser sights), limit magazine capacity to something like six shots, and tax guns and ammo to fund mental health programs. I would respect the right of self-protection so would not ban handguns. I would respect hunting and sports that use guns, so those long guns would not be banned."

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  • G-ManJanuary 17, 2013 - 11:01 pm

    In the 70's there was a paradigm shift in this country as concerns mental illness...mental hospitals were closed (Woodville Hospital in my State is an example)..and the shift was to more out patient treatment w/medications..well now we're seeing the effects..we've got millions of loons lurking in the shadows..add the technology of the times..our penchant for violent entertainment..(Nothing new..the carnage @ the arenas in Rome etc)..and you begin to see the problem...

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  • rlw895January 18, 2013 - 1:51 am

    Absolutely. Ronald Reagan is famous for closing down the system in Calfornia when he was governor. I think the price of our freedom is to take care of those among us who can't cope in such a place. We need mental illness prevention and treatment to be a higher priority. Taxes on guns, ammo, junk food, video games, etc. can help pay for it. Beats banning those things, and the good they then do makes them more defensible by advocates. Everybody wins.

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 2:59 am

    Reagan huh?...now revered by Reps and Dems alike...I like him too...I guess those were the times..And now we have millions of damaged people and worse their children walking among us truly "sane" people...It's not a weapons problem..it's a WANKER problem..if we can spend billions on failed green energy projects (how did that happen btw)...1.6Billion to maintain the Imperial Style@Hussein House...and a Federal Pension systems(that for elected officials should be dismantled immediately and SHOW prejudice retroactively)...Cut pay of Congress to median pay in their districts for a start and use that money for Good let's get these few million help,get people to work building some hospitals..(Where's the infrastructure work btw..we should be in a post WWII BOOM here..something doesn't smell right...

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 3:08 am

    @RLW..As for taxes on ammo guns etc..I say TAX AWAY..that's one I would be willing to pay.. if our problem could go away..to never see the light of day,to make it safe for children's play...but not enough for my mother in law to stay...

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  • rlw895January 18, 2013 - 1:25 pm

    We're not that far apart then. 10 rounds is acceptable to me. Defining "military style" is a problem, as noted before. If it can't be resolved effectively, then I'd let it go. Still no full auto, 50-cal, bazookas, tanks, RPGs, etc., etc. Yeah, I know semi-auto can be modified, but I want the guy who has one to go to jail and have it confiscated BEFORE he or someone else uses it in a crime, rather than after. So possession has to be a crime. If you really mean "tax away" for effective mental illness prevention and treatment, we're good.

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    It's just running laps..nothing short of mass confiscation will prevent someone bent on doing harm from using a gun..and not even that..hypothetical..all guns are gone..Mr Nutcase uses fire,acid,a bomb, a knife.a bat..plenty of soft targets in this country..sometimes I think these looney tunes are trying to " one up"...I'm done with this gun debate..it's a non starter

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  • rlw895January 18, 2013 - 10:20 pm

    If the Sandy Hook nutcase could only get his hands on 10-round magazines, don't you think some lives would have been saved? Do you think he cared whether he killed 5 or 50 as long as he went out with a bang or satisfied whatever his insane motivaton was?

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  • G-ManJanuary 19, 2013 - 3:36 am

    Easy Perry Mason..you're starting to lose me..how in the world do I know if the Sandy Shooter wanted to kill 5 or 50..from what I read he kept shooting..till he heard the sirens..maybe we should have sirens in every school...now as for 10 shot mags..and would lives be saved..NO NO NO..I gotta say..do you even have a gun?...what stops a nut from carry a vest full of 10 shot Mags..he's locking the door and it's 2nd graders!!!..The only life saved..was that kid that hid under the bodies..I'm surprised that child hasn't been abused in the media but we mercifully haven't..no RLK no gun laws,no controls,regs,will stop gun violence..why?..CAUSE THE CRIMINALS WILL ALWAYS HAVE GUNS...don't you want one too?

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  • G-ManJanuary 19, 2013 - 3:57 am

    Correct type RLW...

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  • rlw895January 20, 2013 - 12:45 pm

    No one should divulge whether he owns a gun or not, publicly, don't you agree? About the only chance unarmed people have to stop a shooter is when he pauses to reload, and it helps the armed defender too. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference at Sandy Hook, but it might have made a big difference in an incident like the Congresswoman Giffords shooting in Arizona. I still like 6-round mags as the limit, but you said you couldn't accept less than 10. How about 8? What's the standard for a 45 or 9mm semi handgun?

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  • G-ManJanuary 20, 2013 - 1:13 pm

    No real standard..first Generation GLOCK 17 could hold 17rds...James Bond's Walther PPK?..Std clip maybe 7rds..and he was fighting SPECTRE...Real world says..In this Republic the people have a right to self defense...you bring up Sandy,Columbine,Aurora,...I say..thanks for proving my point...

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  • It is way past by bedtimeJanuary 26, 2013 - 4:02 am

    SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.....I myself am a member of CONTROL because I am opposed to KAOS, but first I need to get smart, this is the part I have trouble with, missed it by this much.

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  • G-ManJanuary 18, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    @RLW Esq....NO TANKS?...No Thanks!!!

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  • U know U....January 20, 2013 - 7:22 pm

    Love your wife and probably her Mommy too so there you slay me.

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  • G-ManJanuary 26, 2013 - 3:57 am

    I DO.(.whoops said that once too many times..)Love my wife..and I've gotten a lot closer to my Mother in Law in the years since she's been dead...

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 19, 2013 - 7:30 am

    We can argue and cite every law on the books but in the end, it s clearly an individual choice as to how one uses their weapons. Guns will always be available through many channels and bad people will always have them. The challenge to remove the criminal element is simply impossible. The long lines at gun shows and gun stores should be evidence enough that folks want to have guns and are willing to pay the price both in terms of time and money. On the news last night, they showed people lining up as early as four hours before the stores/events opened. Gun sales are off the hook and that is to be expected, but the hysteria surrounding it is based on misinformation and media hype. Again, the media drives everything and no longer recognizes the division between fact and fiction. I hope that if you are one of those anxious buyers, you learn the awesome task of responsible gun ownership and take some shooting lessons. The worst thing in the world is having kids get a hold of your guns. The second worst thing is attempting to defend yourself and realizing you cannot. Some very good folks mean well, but simply should not have a gun, period.

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  • G-manJanuary 20, 2013 - 1:19 pm

    Who's the arbiter of which well meaning folks don't get the guns??..As a responsible gun owner with legal training I know that the. Second I pull that trigger my live is changed..by degrees..but changed....I would do just about anything to avoid shooting someone...even in my home..every event is different..I need my options..btw.Gabby was one lucky lady..

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  • BTWJanuary 20, 2013 - 7:25 pm

    I don't spect I will B so lucky. U R So EVIL

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  • D.B.January 25, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    "Let me break down the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated (provisioned or armed) militia (anyone over 18 and under 45 unless you want to if you are older), being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people (you and I) to keep (own) and bear (keep on your person) arms (it doesn’t say hunting rifles or shotguns only) shall not be infringed (not to be modified).” I would tend to agree with most of that... but the last two aren't entirely correct. No, it doesn't say hunting rifles or shotguns only... in fact, it doesn't specifically mention 'firearms' of any type. It says 'arms', which by definition are any weapon an individual uses in his defense that can be carried on his person... literally by his own arms... where the meaning is derived from. Also, 'infringed' means "to invalidate or actively break the terms of"... not that something cannot be modified. Article 5 of the Constitution dictates how Amendments can be added, which can and do modify and/or clarify the original document and its existing amendments.

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  • G-ManJanuary 26, 2013 - 3:48 am

    That about says it...what the hell are we paying SCOTUS for?..and speaking of that are the "plus size" robes that Kegger Kagan And Sotomaier have to wear paid for by the tax payers?...If so may I suggest that a generic car cover would work as well...I'm sure they come in black.

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