Second Amendment

It seems we’re losing the warm weather here in Maine and it’s turning into the typical cold of these winter months. My next move is going to be to a warmer part of the world where it never, ever snows, hehe. Just warming up at Tim Hortons, getting some breakfast. They have a full breakfast combo (sandwich / drink / dessert) that’s not much more than $4, so I’ve been coming here a lot when I get off shift. The weather isn’t what’s in the news, though.

I’ve recently been introduced to the gun issue, as have many of us. It’s not something I ever thought much about before. I’ve been trying to educate myself about the difference between automatic weapons, semi-automatic, machine guns, assault rifles, and other definitions that seem to get confused in the media. I’ve never had a desire to own a gun, but I do strongly believe in the Constitution. I am concerned that if the government can take away parts of one constitutional right, what’s to prevent them from doing the same thing to other rights? I also feel that a standing militia is an important facet of our national security.

On the other hand, we do have to draw a line somewhere. Even our 1st amendment rights are not absolute (you can’t yell “bomb” in a theater or defame or harass someone), and so it must be with the second amendment. Somewhere between pellet guns and nuclear weapons, we have to find a compromise. It seems many want to draw the line at semi-automatic rifles. I’m honestly not qualified to assert a strong position on this issue, but I have no bias either way, and I don’t want to jump to conclusions on either side of the debate.

That said, it does seem to me that the problem is not the guns. School shootings and public massacres of the kind in Newtown or Aurora are relatively modern. Older Americans can recall a time that it was commonplace for students to bring hunting rifles to school with them. Guns have been around for a long time, including semi-automatic rifles. School shootings are a fairly new phenomena. Logically it would seem that guns are not the underlying problem. It’s possible they may exacerbate situations when an individual with a serious psychiatric condition acts out in violence, but I do not believe that is justification to undermine gun rights. If it were justification, then the same logic could be applied to the majority of drivers based on a minority of vehicular manslaughters or even drunk drivers. To be fair, we do regulate drivers. To drive, you must have a license and registration and insurance in most states. Limitations on gun access seems more effective a plan, such as improved gun education, trigger locks and gun safes, more rigorous background checks, and enforcement of already existing laws.

I am still learning about this topic and I encourage everyone to educate themselves about it. Beyond the media misinformation there is a wealth of real information you can use to inform yourself. It is important that all Americans understand what the Second Amendment means, its history, and its modern relevance. We must not cast aside our Constitution. It is the foundation of our country. At the same time, we need to do what we can to understand gun violence and take reasonable steps to prevent it. I do not believe in evil people, only those who are ignorant or are already suffering themselves, often from serious psychiatric disorders such as sociopathy. We cannot continue to rely on the justice system to handle such individuals after they have already caused harm to others. Mental health services, schools, and other entities in our country need to step up and take preventative action before such tragedies occur. I hope our country will come together and find common ground that will both respect the US Constitution and move us toward a safer future. Education is the first step forward.

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