Seeking Common Ground on the 2A

The 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “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.”

The premise behind the 2nd Amendment is that American citizens should be able to protect themselves against a tyrannical government by having access to firearms.  For the security of a free country, citizens should be able to purchase and keep firearms.  Thus our Constitution classifies civilian access to firearms as a fundamental human right.

The phrase, “shall not be infringed,” is rather problematic, though.  If we were to consider guns and ammunition as consumer products, the phrase “shall not be infringed,” would come off as justifying unfettered capitalism.  Gun manufacturers could produce any weapon that they want without any federal safety regulations, and their customers may consequently suffer from bad product designs.  In addition, if background checks are seen as an infringement on citizens’ 2nd amendment rights,the general public may suffer from people exercising their 2nd amendment rights in an irresponsible and destructive manner when there are no effective background checks in place.

The situation with the relatively easy access to our guns appears similar to what this country had with food poisoning before Upton Sinclair wrote his book, “The Jungle,” which led to Theodore Roosevelt’s creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In addition to regulating the meat industry, the FDA also regulates the production, sales, and use of drugs to maximize public health.  Without federal safety regulations, both the meat and drug industries would lead to greater harm to the public.  I fear that a similar situation has come about with our current legislative status regarding guns.

My proposal for reducing gun violence in America would be to create and enforce an universal background check for all gun sales, so people who are likely to use guns for malicious purposes and less likely to get guns through legal avenues and have gun violence restraining orders where if someone demonstrates an intent to harm themselves or others, then their 2nd amendment rights are temporarily restrained until they get the help and counsel that they need.

The situation for gun violence restraining orders is not unlike where if you have a child that is about to run around with scissors, you would temporarily prevent that child from possessing the scissors and then proceed to teach the child the importance of not running around with scissors.  Likewise, if someone demonstrates an intent to harm themselves and others, then a close friend or family member should be able to petition the local court to temporarily remove their access to firearms and then get them the mental health service that they need to work out their issues better.

I would also like to see an analogous system for purchasing firearms that we already have with our automobiles.  We have driver’s education classes and applications for a driver’s license before people are able to legally drive cars, even if they purchased one for themselves.  I do not see why we cannot have mandatory gun safety classes where a professional firearms instructor mentors people about using guns in a safe and responsible manner.  We could require citizens to go through rigorous checks before they receive a license to purchase and carry firearms.  These kinds of systems would help reduce the number of people killed by gun violence.

Now I have been hearing “since the premise of the 2nd Amendment is to give citizens the ability to fight back against a tyrannical government, why would we give the government the power to strip us of the very right that would help us fight it?”

To me, I feel this calls for a medical analogy.  2A Defenders are like cells that secrete immunosuppressants (strike down gun control laws) for fear of an autoimmune response (tyrannical government).  However, their immunosuppressive effects are to the point that the whole body (the country) suffers from secondary infections (irresponsible gun owners who purchased guns through legal means).  If we were to empower the immune system (the government) a little better, we could prevent some of these secondary infections from happening.

In other words, sometimes the gun lobbying has been acting like HIV and giving this country AIDS with respect to gun violence and the country is suffering from some preventable secondary infections of gun violence.  Now granted, not all acts of gun violence come from legal avenues, as criminals by definition, will find ways around the law to pursue gun violence, but we had a few incidents that could have been prevented or at least delayed if we had tougher gun laws.  So why should we give the government the power to strip us of our right to fight back? It is to help promote public safety in protecting them from citizens exercising their 2nd amendment rights in an irresponsible manner.

I am not asking for a mass confiscation of guns, but a very targeted confiscation of guns from people who show signs of using them in an irresponsible and destructive manner.  Now granted, perhaps we should not give the government this power for fear that someone could hijack the system and label us as political opponents and use that as justification to disarm us before forcibly imposing a hostile agenda on us.  But I feel that perhaps we could still keep our government accountable and be vigilant for any signs of such a hostile takeover from happening.  We can still protect our neighbors from preventable instances of gun violence and still keep our 2nd amendment rights and keep our government accountable to us.

However, if for whatever reason, we still decide not to let the government have the power to infringe our 2A rights, could we not still hold civilian access to firearms accountable through other means?  I already argued that safety regulations would benefit the gun industry just as they already have with automobiles, drugs, and meat.  If such regulations do not happen at the federal level, they would have to be at least from the lower levels, such as state or local.  The presence of safety regulations should be a given, but now it becomes a question of how do we enforce such regulations effectively, if we were to forego federal aid.

Also I am against gun-free zones, as I feel responsible gun owners should be free to carry their weapons in public for self-protection if need be, but only in conjunction with a standardized regulatory structure.  Again it would help if we had something equivalent to the DMV where you can get a license for gun ownership and such a license was state-specific, but recognized in other states as well.   Also schools could use armed protection, whether it be by teachers who volunteer or by school resource officers.

Another thing I would consider are mandatory fingerprint recognition gun safes or equivalent for those gun owners who store their weapons at home and have small children present.  Considering the case of Jesse Osborne, he might have done less harm if his father’s guns were locked away in a safe (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-south-carolina-school-shooter-20180303-story.html). Now granted, his motivation would have pushed him to seek guns nevertheless, but at least it would have been harder and longer for him to do so.

These are some of my thoughts.  I like the idea behind the 2nd amendment, but I am against any irresponsible interpretations of it where it is considered an unrestricted, unlimited civilian access to firearms.  I am also against the other extreme, where we give the government too much power that we systematically disarm all citizens from possessing firearms.  So my middle ground is that we protect the 2nd amendment but perhaps we give the federal government, or some other regulatory agency, the power to regulate and temporarily restrict civilian access to firearms to protect people from preventable instances of gun violence.   I understand that not all instances of gun violence are preventable, but some of them can and should be.

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