Friday, January 14, 2011

Responsible Gun Owner Could Have Made Things Worse

Did a responsible gun owner make the shooting in Tucson, AZ worse? No, they did not. And why? Because they decided NOT to draw their weapon. Apparently at the time of the shooting there was a legal gun carrying person who approached the site of the shooting with his hand ready to draw. As it turned that time another person had already disarmed the shooter and was holding the shooter's weapon. Had this other gentleman decided to himself shoot at the person who was holding the gun at that moment, he would have killed an innocent man. I'm glad that he had the judgment not to draw his weapon.

This all begs the question about the public carrying firearms. I can see that those that hunt need a hunting weapon. Those that camp or hike where there are dangerous animals probably need a handgun with them for safety reasons. And for those that belong to a gun-enthusiast club, or have gun collection as a hobby...I really have little problem with these kinds of gun ownership. But weapons out in the general public? That reminds me of romanticized "old west" movies, or post-apocalyptic sort of settings in film or video games.

I think that times have dramatically changed from when the Bill of Rights was written. Amendment 2 of the Constitution states our right to:

"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."

Today our state or local militias have evolved into what is now collectively the National Guard, and their use of firearms is regulated, as is their existence as 'a militia'. People today do have the right to bear arms also, but not just whatever they want...and perhaps people need to understand that the first part of the 2nd Amendment is, "A well regulated...", as well as that this is one continuous thought...and not a multi-section list of rights. These Amendments were written in the understanding of the preamble, where the benefits help our society...our union:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Thomas Jefferson stated:

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government"

This seems to be often claimed as something that is in our rights as citizens of this country, but it isn't really what the Constitution says. This was more Jefferson's opinion at the time. And remember also that Jefferson did use the 'militia' against 'patriotic citizens' in an uprising, thus unfortunately refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots, as he later wrote. Regardless, is it reasonable to suggest that the general public should have any sort of arms they can obtain (grenades, missiles, machine-guns, etc.)?

In the end, this argument may be as simple as the statistics about gun violence. States with the most gun ownership have the worst amounts of gun violence, those with the least gun ownership have the least gun related violence. This should probably be more telling to people than perhaps most are willing to argue about.

Rachel Maddow has more to say on this issue:

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