Sunday, June 29, 2008

Armed and Dangerous but Legal

This week the Supreme Court, armed with the power to change laws voted to ban the ban on handguns in America. Every American citizen now has the right to carry a gun, according to the dangerous 5 to 4 decision handed down by the justices.
The funny thing is that in poll after poll it appears that more Americans agree with the decision than do not. That surprised me until I realized that polls can and do lie. The polls also told us that George Bush won the last two Presidential elections and any intelligent human being knows that he did not. Unfortunately by adding the intelligent human being part I actually left out Mr. Bush.
But the decision is an interesting one because it claims to be the will of the founders of our country that Justice Scalia and his ‘right thinking’ friends on the court cited as their reason to allow everyday citizens to arm themselves. The fact that the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association will gain tremendously by this decision should merely be considered collateral damage.
But there will be more damage in the months to come. And although I really hope I am wrong how can we sanely place a gun in the hands of every citizen and not expect at least some fallout?
With our current spike toward seven dollar a gallon gas and an economy that is spiraling toward a recession faster than you can say soup kitchens is it really a large leap to lawlessness? A recent political cartoon by Chan Lowe of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel showed woman in an SUV offering the keys to her car to a man with a gun pointed at her. His response was, “Dream on. I just want your gas.”
The second amendment to our constitution has been fought over for over 200 years. Unfortunately our founders wrote it in such a way as to be vague in meaning and subject to interpretation by whoever was in power at the time of the reading. That means that the people now get to carry guns. But the original words should be read with an eye and an ear of a historian as well as a constitutional scholar. What were the times like when these words were written? What did the founders have in mind? Unfortunately we may never know but a simple and equally compelling interpretation of the amendment could say that the militia of which the men spoke be regarded as our ‘men in blue.’ The police carry weapons to keep the peace and to serve and protect. They are trained in the use of firearms and hopefully in the restraint of their use as well. One need only look to the many cases of abuse by these trained individuals to realize the danger of allowing every citizen to carry a weapon.
Comedian Chris Rock suggests that we allow everyone to own a gun but that the bullets cost five thousand dollars each and be registered.
The NRA wants to make sure we have the right to use rifles to hunt. That is fine as long as there are rules and regulations for their use. A real man or woman should not need an AK-47 assault rifle to hunt and kill deer. If you need a rifle that shoots 300 rounds in a matter of seconds then perhaps hunting is not your game.
And to those who say we should be allowed to protect ourselves I can only say that is why we elect our government and pay taxes for our police forces. It is the right of every American citizen to be all that he or she can be; to reach for the stars; and to run for President if that is the desired goal but in a civilized country we all must realize our limitations. If we are not trained to be an astronaut we should not expect to be launched on the next shuttle flight. And if we are not trained in the delicate intricacies of peacekeeping then we must leave that job to the current professional militia, our various police forces.
Even the Supreme Court can get it wrong. Chalk up another victory for the 'right.' Four out of five innocent gunshot victims would agree.

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