As a student of history, and a firm believer that democracy is the most effective form of government for protecting the freedoms we Americans are privileged to have, I am tired of those who oppose gun control invoking the Second Amendment as a shield to protect their interests. The fundamental purpose of a representative form of government is to allow people to create a government and system of laws that effectively protects the individual freedoms and rights of those very people. By nature, this system is designed to change and adapt to the demands and the challenges facing those very people in the world and times that they live in. In this sense, nothing in democracy is sacred except equality and the right to freedom.
The Second Amendment was created by the founders of our nation as part of a series of laws that would attempt to guarantee freedom for future generations of Americans. Their goal, in creating a law that guaranteed the right to bear arms, was to allow any person who thinks that their right to freedom, or even to life, is being threatened by a domestic or foreign power, to be on a relatively equal footing in terms of firepower with that aggressor. This would ensure that they would be able to individually defend them self from attack or organize a comparable force to combat the force challenging their basic rights. That law is now obsolete.
It is obsolete because the ability of a gun owner to effectively defend himself or herself from a military power that wishes to take his or her freedom has been seriously compromised by the advance of military technology. To be fair, if someone is coming to take my freedom or my life, I would rather have a gun. And I, therefore, think that the individual ability to own a gun to defend my and my family’s lives should not be eliminated. But I am not convinced that owning a gun to defend my home will help to protect me from Abrams tanks, Apache attack helicopters, unmanned drones and Tomahawk missiles that a foreign or domestic military power is sure to use when trying to attempt to take my freedom.
What I am convinced of is that the technology of firearms, and the relative ease of use (and therefore the effective killing ability of any user), has increased to the point that my, and my fellow Americans’, right to life is constantly threatened by the ease at which criminals and those who wish to harm others can acquire firearms. I believe America is now at a point that my right to bear arms is hindering my, and many others’, right to life. It is time that we as participants in the great experiment of democracy use our ability to amend the laws as we see fit, to protect ourselves from those who can easily acquire guns to do us harm. If I want to own a gun to protect my family or to hunt, I am more than willing to submit to a background check to prove that I am a law-abiding citizen to help guarantee the safety of the citizens who choose not to own guns. This will not prevent me from committing a crime with my gun if I choose to. But it is impossible to eliminate the ability of anyone to commit a crime, and therefore the best we can do is attempt to prevent and mitigate the number of crimes committed and the severity of those crimes. Society has done this for thousands of years.
It is time to accept that arguments using the Second Amendment are attempting to polarize the issue rather than solve the problems we face. No one can argue that instituting a background check on all firearm sales overtime will limit the ability of criminals to acquire guns and, more important, over time reduce the ease of someone who wants to do harm to acquire a weapon.
It is time for a real discussion to solve our problems of today without invoking the sanctity of the Second Amendment as a holy doctrine. Representative government is designed to allow changes as time changes civilization. I know Thomas Jefferson would agree. He believed the laws he helped to create would help to guarantee the freedom of Americans from oppression and tyranny. He also believed that if those laws were ineffective or rendered obsolete, that democracy would allow later citizens of the U.S. to create more effective laws that would. I agree with Howard Bashinski’s letter “Moving it forward” (April 6 Steamboat Pilot & Today) that we must realistically discuss the issue with the goal of problem solving to do exactly what he desires our country to do, move forward.