Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:07 AM

The Second Amendment and Gun Control (Updated)

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The response in each case plays out like a macabre version of Groundhog Day – complete with swat teams showing up brandishing their big guns (oblivious to the obvious irony) long after all of the killing is done; politicians mouthing patently hollow words about gun control; and reporters emulating the Bill Murray character by repeating the few basic facts ad nauseam, yet making it seem like BREAKING NEWS each time.

(“Now Newtown: Shooting Massacres USA”, The iPINIONS Journal, December 15, 2012)

The above indicates why the 24/7 media coverage of the Newtown shooting massacre had me feeling wistful even for coverage of the farcical Washington debate on the fiscal cliff.

Alas, it’s an indication of how little influence I have to trend topics that, despite writing a commentary on the MLK Memorial yesterday, all anybody wanted to talk about was this massacre. Granted, they might have been more interested if I’d written about Honey Boo Boo.

Anyway, this is why I have decided to revise and extend what I wrote on Saturday about gun control. I am also mindful that media coverage is now evolving from wallowing in the survivors’ grief (for ratings) to egging on a national debate on this very contentious topic (for even greater ratings).

Frankly, I fear that curbing gun violence is almost as daunting as curing lung cancer. Yet, just as the daunting challenge does not deter us from attempting to cure lung cancer, I do not think it should deter us from attempting to curb gun violence. And the best place to begin is to inject some clarity and sanity into our understanding and application of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Second Amendment specifically refers to “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” Obviously, this is because, when the Constitution was signed 225 years ago, the United States did not have the well regulated police forces, let alone the well regulated armed forces, it has today.

It’s arguable therefore that the only reasonable reading of this amendment in today’s context is that the only people who should have the right to “keep and bear Arms” are those in law enforcement and the military (i.e., those actively involved in ensuring national security).

In other words, I am convinced that keeping and bearing six-cylinder handguns and double-barrel shotguns (for home protection) and single-shot rifles (for hunting) violate the letter of the Second Amendment. But I would concede that the right to keep and bear them could be consistent with its spirit. This is why I would make it illegal for civilians to possess any other type of firearm or munitions. Period!

Accordingly, I believe that anti-gun advocates who argue for a ban on all guns are just as irrational as anti-immigration advocates who argue for the deportation of all illegal immigrants. More to the point, though, pro-gun advocates who argue that civilians retain the right to possess everything from semi-automatic pistols to assault rifles (with magazines that carry 100 rounds) are just as cooky as evangelical Christians who argue that we all descend from Adam and Eve.

This, notwithstanding that no less a person than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose legal reasoning I’ve always thought is way overrated, has opined that it is probably constitutional even to keep and bear “hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes.” For if this self-professed “textual originalist” were more rigorously intellectual, and less vigorously partisan, he would insist that only muskets, bayonets, and single-shot pistols can pass constitutional muster. After all, these are the only types of arms the framers knew of and could have (originally) intended when they drafted the Constitution in 1787.

But I have no doubt that Scalia’s opinion will give aid and comfort to the paranoid fools who would happily buy a Sherman tank to fight off the federal troops they know President Obama will order any day now to “take their freedoms [i.e., guns] away.”

Apropos of which, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has perpetrated a brazen and unconscionable fraud on the American people by pretending to be arch defenders of their right to keep and bear arms. Because the NRA is just the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers, and its sole mission is to ensure that those manufactures have the right to sell as many guns of every type to as many people as possible. Period!

Therefore, the American people would be well advised to consign the NRA to the rogues gallery of American politics – right alongside groups like the KKK. And any politician who even appears to be doing its bidding should not only be thrown out of office but pilloried as a venal sell-out in perpetuity.

In fact, we should begin by targeting the 31 senators who, before Newtown, were wearing their “A” rating from the NRA like a badge of honor; but who, after Newtown, were too cowardly/ashamed to appear on Meet The Press to defend their uncompromising pro-gun voting record.

That said, let me hasten to clarify that banning assault weapons alone will not end shooting massacres. For this will do nothing to combat the mental triggers that everything from grotesquely violent movies to even more violent video games provide. Indeed, it seems a case of putting the cart before the horse to talk about targeting mental illness in this context before getting rid of these triggers.

I am all too mindful that the glorification of violence is every bit as American as apple pie and Chevrolet. But unless we move as aggressively to ban these mental triggers (by shaming and penalizing Hollywood) as we do to ban assault weapons (by shaming and penalizing the NRA), we will merely be picking at the superficial scab instead of treating the deep wound that gun violence represents.

NOTE: Am I the only one who finds it odd that the police are talking about the investigation of this massacre taking months? What … do they think he was part of an al-Qaeda cell or a neo-Nazi group?! Hell, it seems patently clear to me that all we have here is what we had in Columbine and elsewhere; namely, just another mentally disturbed and socially alienated kid going postal.

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