In the words of Rahm Emanuel, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” That is exactly the philosophical approach some members of our government are taking in the shadow of the horrific tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
On Wednesday President Obama held a news conference to present his plan for reducing “gun violence” in American. Notice that it’s not “gun control” any more, instead he’s seeking to “reduce gun violence”, which sounds better. His plan outlined a number of initiatives. At the forefront was his call to reinstate an assault weapons ban and to limit the size of firearm magazines to ten rounds as well as a call to enforce background checks at gun shows and in private sales of firearms. Additionally he signed 23 Executive Orders designed to address the issue ranging from clarifying the mental health services of Obamacare to requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check database.
Let us examine these items closer. First off, banning ‘assault weapons’ – there was no such thing as an ‘assault weapon’ until Congress created it when they banned them the first time in the 1990s. The definition basically boils down to cosmetic traits such as pistol grips, folding stocks and barrel shields — items that have nothing to do with the actual function of the weapon. Essentially if it looks like something the military uses, they want to ban it. Second on the list: “high capacity magazines”. Again, this was arbitrarily defined by Congress. Many firearms come from the manufacturer with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds simply because they hold whatever number of bullets fit comfortably within the weapon. The idea that limiting the number of rounds in a magazine can result in fewer possible deaths is misguided. An individual, with practice can change magazines in a handgun or rifle in a matter of seconds. How exactly will that slow down a gunman sufficiently to allow police who are likely minutes away to somehow save more lives? Remember the shooting that occurred at Virginia Tech? That shooter was armed with handguns and many extra magazines. He wasn’t slowed down by the capacity of the magazines or that the handguns were somehow less deadly than the demonized ‘assault rifle’. Third; who exactly determines what constitutes “relevant data”? What are the limits on this very vague description? For the purpose of a background check information pertaining to criminal records makes sense, but what else can be construed as ‘relevant’? Does this blog and my Constitutionalist views, which can be found here and on Facebook as well as other places around the Web count as ‘relevant’ data that could be used to deny my rights? Do you see what I’m getting at? What is stopping the government from deciding that political dissent, or ‘anti-government’ sentiments are reason enough to deny a citizen their right to bear arms? Can such sentiments be used to label someone ‘mentally ill’? It would not be the first time something of that nature has occurred.
Do these proposed measures, (and the others I haven’t mentioned) actually address the horror that took place at Sandy Hook? Well, no. Not really. The shooter at Sandy Hook perpetrated the attack with two handguns. He had an AR-15 type rifle in the trunk of his car. He never used it in the shooting. There is video footage showing police removing that weapon from the trunk of the vehicle. Had the shooter used it, it would have been found in the school. The shooter would not have had the opportunity to use it and return it to the car, as he never exited the school after entering, and apparently took his own life within the building. So the argument to ban so-called ‘assault weapons’ is utterly baseless. It is even more-so when we take into consideration that rifles (all rifles, not just ‘assault rifles’) accounted for only 323 deaths in the United States in 2011. More people per year are killed with hammers.
Will limiting magazine capacity reduce the carnage of these shootings? Again, the answer is no. As I already mentioned, changing magazines is not a time consuming process. It didn’t hinder the shooter at VA Tech, nor did it hinder the shooter at Sandy Hook who must have changed magazines a few times in order to shoot 26 people and then himself. Reports indicate that he shot victims multiple times. Even if we assume the highly unlikely possibility that he had 100% accuracy, the two handguns would not have held sufficient ammunition for the number of shots which were seemingly fired.
The idea of increasing background checks doesn’t even address Sandy Hook. The shooter used his mother’s weapons which she had legally obtained. There was no straw purchase. There was no shady cash only transaction in some dark ally. He took them from his own home. His mother failed to secure them in a manner capable of preventing her mentally ill son from accessing them – plain and simple.
So as we can see, this action on the part of the President is nothing more than the government capitalizing on the irrational emotions of a nation in mourning following a grave atrocity. Why would the government wish to take advantage of such a terrible event? Because it gives the government a unique opportunity to do something which they would otherwise find surpassingly difficult, just as they capitalized on the tragic events of 9/11 to pass the so-called ‘Patriot Act’ and many other infringements on the privacy of US citizens. To fully understand the gravity of this move by the government we need to look to history.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Now let’s break it down. “A well regulated Militia” – a militia is term given to a group of private citizens who band together to form an army. They are not professional soldiers as those enrolls in the US Army are. They are ordinary citizens, though they need to be proficient enough to defend themselves and others, thus “well regulated”.
“Being necessary to the security of a free State” – what is meant by ‘State’? The word has a number of definitions, ranging from the condition of something, to referring to a government entity, to referring to a geographical entity. In this case, it is referring to the several states; of which the United States currently consists of 50. We know this because elsewhere in the Constitution the federal government is granted permission to create and maintain a professional army. The people created the States, and the States created the federal government. The second amendment, being part of the Bill of Rights was created to guarantee rights to the States and the people for the express reason of keeping the federal government from interfering with those rights.
“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – This part is pretty self-explanatory. It guarantees your right to own and carry Arms (weapons). It also states that your right to do so “shall not be infringed” (emphasis mine).
In summary, the 2nd amendment declares that for the security of the several States it is necessary for private citizens to own and carry arms, and that the right to do so cannot be infringed.
Many of the states were not comfortable ratifying the Constitution without a defined Bill of Rights. It was for this reason that the Bill of Rights was adopted. Why would the ratifying conventions be so concerned about this? Because they wanted to ensure that curtain natural rights were lead out in stone as rights that could not be infringed upon by the central government.
The purpose of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution as a whole is to limit the power of the central government. Why, if the central government is permitted the power to have an army and to use that army to defend against foreign invasion is it necessary to guarantee the right to arms and militia to the States and the people? The answer is simple. The founders feared centralized power because they knew all too well that it tends to intensify and oppress. The purpose of the second amendment comes directly from the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States sets in stone the right of the people to keep and bear arms against their own government should such government become tyrannical.
Now do you see why the government may have an interest in taking firearms out of the hands of citizens? The government has already trampled the Constitution, which was supposed to limit its power. The only limitation left on the power of the federal government is the people. An armed people represent a serious force to be reckoned with. A disarmed populace on the other hand… well just look to the totalitarian histories of Germany, Korea, Russia or Italy. There is a balance between the people and the government. The people can only act as a sufficient check to government if they can match that government in terms of firepower. Every time the government passes a measure restricting the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms they tip the scale further in their favor. The more the scale tips against the people, the less secure we are.
One final item I’d like to point out is the utter hypocrisy of this President in his use of children to advance his disarmament agenda. He signed his 23 orders while surrounded by children who had written to him about the Sandy Hook shooting. He has no moral standing to advocate for the lives of children or for less violence. If you read the news at all you have surely heard about the US drone strikes that are taking place in the Middle East and in other locations. All of those drone strikes take place on the President’s orders. Those drone strikes – by order of President Barack Hussein Obama – have murdered more innocent children than any school shooting.
If we truly wish to reduce violence, we need to take the weapons away from the government, not the people.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
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