The Great Debate: First vs. Second Amendment

Staff Writer: Liam Gillin

I already know that this article is going to have deniers who will say the exact opposite of me, and claim that my argument is false or otherwise invalid. With that in mind, I’ll make life very difficult for those who have those intentions. That means I’m going to be sure to make this extremely thorough. So, to all you ‘ammosexuals’ out there who wish to invalidate my FACTS (and opinions), I say only one thing. Good luck to you!

Anyway, the best place to start is from the beginning. Of our country, that is. When the first Ten Amendments were written, they were done so in a way that made them deliberately vague, and easily interpreted in a number of ways. Making this so for the Second Amendment kept the people happy, at the time. The last thing they wanted was another monarch to rule over them.

However, the Founding Fathers would probably be rolling in their graves right now if they could see the current state of our government. They never wanted the federal government to have the amount of legal and regulatory power that it does today. Frankly, though, with all that the government can now enforce as law, and given the current status of guns compared to between 200 and 300 years ago, does it not make sense to regulate the licensing and civilian ownership of firearms?

Yes, that’s right. I don’t think that we should simply take away all the guns, but license the people who are mentally; as well as emotionally; sound enough to assume ownership of one. Better yet, it should be a much larger course than it is. Currently, what passes for a gun ownership test is literally firing the gun on a shooting range. WHAT?

Shooting a gun proves that you know how to use one. It does not, in the slightest, prove that you can be trusted to use it responsibly. Granted, how one handles a firearm could display a certain degree of respect and caution with the weapon, which is desired. But even a terrorist knows that using a gun can be dangerous for the person holding it, especially when it’s used incorrectly.

Therefore, there should be so much more required for the standards of that test. We should treat it just like the Driving Education system; a written test, a psychiatric evaluation, a course of at least one month in length, and more than just one test on the shooting range itself. If you wouldn’t put a potential psychopath behind the steering wheel of a car, why in the world would you do anything less when training someone how to use a lethal weapon?

Now, we’re going to back in time again. People who love their guns and quote the Second Amendment as follows; “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed…”; often forget to recite the part that comes after that; “…to maintain a strong and able militia.” Once again, this is for the fact that Americans did not want to fall under monarchy rule after having just won a war with Great Britain to escape its monarchy, in the first place.

The “strong and able militia” was supposed to provide assurance that the people could overthrow any monarch who might assume power from then on, against the will of the citizens. But, wait a minute! If the federal government is so powerful, as well as in constant and deliberate balance among the three branches (which has lasted for a little under roughly 250 years), what are the actual odds of a new monarchy coming to power?

In a democracy—in OUR democracy—people speak with one another. Simply put, we don’t need a militia to feel safe from that kind of tyranny anymore. The baby has outgrown its bottle. Time to use those grown-up teeth.

I keep hoping that one day the spirits of the Founding Fathers will rise from their graves, see the state of our political divide, and simply shout: “For God’s sake! We were talking about musket balls! Not 13.3 bullets per second!”

Wait… You didn’t think that the issue stopped there, did you? Ha! Have you even met real life?

There is a strong argument to be made that actions speak louder than words. If someone were to take a holstered gun to a public place in protest, that would be one thing. This, however, can be taken too far very easily. Imagine if said protester were to hold up his gun in his hand and begin yelling to a crowd of people, “I can take my gun wherever I want because of the Second Amendment and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

This could be seen as either a verbal or, more likely, a physical threat. Now, maybe said firearm is unloaded. That could be true. It doesn’t matter. People could have thought that it was, and felt terrorized as a result.

Aside from this, there is always the issue of hate speech. I cannot stand people who deny that there is any racial divide in our country. An unsurprising amount of them are white, too (by the way, I’m a white guy writing this). I have always believed that there is a vast difference between what is free speech and what I refer to as absolute speech. When it becomes the latter, that is a blatant disregard for any moral limits or beforehand thinking, and thus a form of abuse of the First Amendment.

If we refuse to accept these limitations, then we are no better than the tyrants from whom we fought to gain independence from over two centuries ago.

Sure, there are laws against discrimination and hate speech. Yet, people still break those laws. I’m not saying that officially editing the First Amendment to clearly establish what speech is acceptable and what is not is going to be a definite fix for the problem, but it makes a good first step in having the American people take their anti-discrimination laws more seriously.

As for the Second Amendment? For God’s sake, we need to specify what sorts of guns a civilian has any business owning! A pistol or a hunting rifle is reasonable. Military grade weapons such as assault rifles, sniper rifles and machine guns are the opposite of reasonable; and should be reserved for the armed forces.

A civilian should have the basic right to bear arms in self-defense, but not to shoot up our schools and murder innocent people. And our police forces should not have the means or the authority to kill unarmed American citizens for an unproven crime, simply because it was ‘probable’ or because they were acting with ‘suspicious’ behavior.

Above all, we must accept moderation. Have the firepower to intimidate and, if necessary, take action. If we feel free to condone a slaughter, then the United States of America is anything but the greatest nation on Earth.

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