I’m a gun owner. I’m a former cop and a retired Army officer. I’ve personally fired everything from .38 police specials to M60 machine guns to TOW anti-tank weapons to 105mm howitzers.
I fear, however, the unmitigated love for weapons, and the ever-expanding “rights” to “keep and bear arms” will make the United States a police state, which is the exact opposite of what gun advocacy organizations want.
Here’s the problem: as more and more mass shootings occur – such as the latest one in Parkland, Broward County – people will become more and more vigilant for signs of potential crackpots who would go on such a rampage.
On the same day as the Parkland shooting – February 14, 2018 – a grandmother in Snohomish County, Washington, read the journal of her grandson, detailing plans to shoot up a school and kill as many students as possible. He had even purchased a weapon such as the one used in the Columbine school shooting, robbed a 7-11, and felt a sense of power in that robbery. The grandmother notified authorities, who arrested the teenager. During the arrest, he assaulted an officer and now is being held on $5 million bail. The grandmother is (rightly) being hailed as a hero.
Is that what life in these United States has come to – that we are encouraging people to spy upon and inform upon their family and friends to prevent mass murder? What will we encourage next – spying on family and friends who might sexually assault others? Isn’t that a noble cause too, in the #metoo movement, especially given the abuses of power we’ve seen with the U.S. Gymnastics Team and people like Harvey Weinstein? President Trump has accused Democrats of treason for not applauding him during his State of the Union address. Perhaps we should encourage people to report suspected treason like this too?
Are we creating a new Gestapo or East German Stasi, where we encourage citizens to report on their family, friends and neighbors? All in the name of keeping us safe?
No right is unlimited.
The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Yet we do require parade permits for people to “assemble”. We don’t protect people who slander others or falsely accuse them of crimes in public. Television stations cannot use the “f” word in their broadcasts during prime time. The first amendment has limits.
Similarly, the complete text of the second amendment is “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.”
Does this mean people can keep and bear nuclear weapons? No. Can they buy and use 150mm howitzers? No. Can anyone – including those who are insane or convicted felons – keep and use firearms? No. Indeed, one could read the second amendment to state that only people who are part of a “well-regulated militia” have the right to “keep and bear arms”.
It sure seems to me that further restrictions – strict background checks, prohibition on any machine gun or automatic weapon, banning of bump stocks and 60 round magazines, requirements for gun safety courses – might well be in order.
I’d rather limit the “right to keep and bear arms” rather than encourage citizens across the nation to be reporting anything suspicious about their friends and neighbors. I really want my seven grandchildren, ages 1 to 12, to be able to walk to school and learn there, without fear of having the place shot up. And I’d live in a nation with strict limits on firearms any day, before living in a nation of informers.