Here is one of the last generations who knew the meaning of honor, service, and justice.

Here is one of the last generations who knew the meaning of honor, service, and justice.
Here is one of the last generations who knew the meaning of honor, service, and justice.

I fear that in my lifetime, the Second Amendment will be put to use for one of the reasons it was added to the Constitution. I believe the Second Amendment is the precipice that will decide our future as the United States of America. For some, this right is a vehicle for violence and destruction. For others, it is a means of self-preservation and insurance against the yoke of tyranny. Throughout history, there is evidence to support both opinions. However, it is the naivete of the first opinion that defeats its validity. It is the malignant heart of humankind that inflicts violence upon another, not the tool used to accomplish that violence.

Let me have you consider this debate in another way. Remember that a firearm is nothing more than a tool, albeit a very deadly one, but a tool just the same. Imagine for whatever reason, the Framers wanted to ensure the American people would always have the right to keep and bear another tool.

A mastery of carpentry, being necessary for construction of reliable structures, the right of the people to keep and bear hammers, shall not be infringed.

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Now, does this mean that all citizens must be masters of carpentry if they are to own a hammer? That is absurd, not everyone has the aptitude, patience, or regardless of practice may never master carpentry. Try as I might, my woodworking is functional at best. Even if it does not look very pretty I still own a hammer in case I need to pound the head of nail that pops up when it should not. And what if on extremely rare occasions, someone used a hammer to kill a group of people? Should we then eliminate all hammers? Or maybe only allow tack hammers but ban larger hammers?

Most reasonable people can surmise that the intent of the Second Amendment provided a means of defense for citizens. It was not intended, as some might suggest, as a license for hunting or target practice, even under British rule those activities would have been permissible. This amendment, second among those they originally considered, was much more than the mundane, pedestrian value modern antagonists would have you believe.

One reason this problem has festered is the gradual disconnect between the language used and the modern interpretation. Though perhaps early Americans more understood the intent of the Second Amendment, eventually the prose had less meaning. Thus, in 2008 the Supreme Court clarified the Second Amendment for modern understanding.

The Supreme Court provided that definition in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Though it is a lengthy read with numerous references, it is well worth reading. Reading the dissenting opinions is really worthwhile to understand the philosophical differences we are up against. I will touch on the highlights so you may understand the significance of this case.

Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, in part stating:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes.

Clearly, the right to keep and bear arms (the operative clause) is independent of militia service (the prefatory clause). The opinion also described concerns which arose while drafting the Constitution.

The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

This would suggest that the Second Amendment, at least in part, acts as part of the “checks and balances” of our system. A government which does not possess the authority to disarm its citizens is one that must respect their freedoms or risk civil war to alter or abolish them.

As the United States has grown and technology blossomed, issues have arisen which the Framers never imagined. Consider the automobile, for many of us it is nearly unimaginable to consider life without a car. However, like many things the side effects, like drunk driving, are devastating. However, as a society we see the benefits outweigh the risk. Though I am sure all of us would agree these deaths are tragic, society as a whole does not make much fuss about it.

I know that that the senseless death of anyone is horrible for those who experience loss. However, if we are to attempt to find the solutions, we must first identify the problems. Therefore, we must analyze the statistics with equanimity. Having said this, here are some statistics to compare traffic collisions and murder.

Cause of Death 2010 Deaths Rate/100,000
Traffic collisions



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Traffic collisions; alcohol-impaired






Murders; firearm related (total firearms)



Murders; knives or cutting instruments



Murders; personal weapons (hands, feet, pushing)



Murders; other weapons



Firearm related murders; handguns



Firearm related murders; unknown



Firearm related murders; shotguns



Firearm related murders; rifles



Rifles and unknown firearms combined



Sources:  Century Council, 2010 State of Drunk Driving, Fatalities in America

FBI  Uniform Crime Reporting 2010 report (FBI data does not include statistics from Florida. Data table included Virgin Islands, which was removed)

Though murder with rifles is 357 deaths, that number indicates all rifles. Even if we were to assume the unlikely scenario that all rifle-related deaths, and the extremely unlikely scenario that all unknown-firearm deaths were committed with “assault weapons,” the result is still far less than alcohol-impaired collisions, handgun-related murders, and the combination of all murders not involving firearms.

Through efforts of groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tougher laws were enacted, enforcement increased, and public awareness heightened. Since 1982, these measures have helped to reduce alcohol-impaired fatalities by 52%. Though far too many people still die annually, this remarkable reduction was all accomplished without banning cars, alcohol, driving for all Americans, or destroying all roads to prevent further deaths. I have never heard anyone even consider that we ban such things because of alcohol-impaired fatalities. This is because we understand that drunk driving is a behavior and we must address the individual offense, not the nation.

The politicians and pundits are all clamoring on about the necessity of “assault weapons” in today’s society. They point to several tragic events to justify their desire to strip this type of weapon from the hands of the American people. However, statistics show that though these events may be barbarous, removing this weapon from society will not cure the problem. An analogous idiom would be that the tick is wagging the tail, which is wagging the dog.

For those that truly believe that these firearms have no place in our society, I would point to the events that unfolded in the North Hollywood shootout in 1997. Two bank robbers, armed with automatic and semi-automatic weapons engaged in a shootout with police. First consider that these were bank robbers, criminals who knowingly broke numerous laws. Regardless of how many laws were in place, these men took no heed of these laws. Further, both men were under the influence of drugs and covered in Kevlar, making ordinary handgun fire ineffective, which allowed the gun battle to continue. In the aftermath, police officials recognized that the officers’ handguns were woefully inadequate for these conditions. Police officials realized, if officers’ had “assault rifles,” their bullets would have defeated the Kevlar shielding and possibly ended the threat to human life much sooner.

Antagonists of the Second Amendment would point out that this event proves their point. However, criminals will always conduct themselves outside the law and no amount of bluster from Sen. Feinstein and crew will change that.

As D.C. v. Heller shows, the Framers considered the right to keep and bear arms was a measure to keep the government from overstepping its limitations. We now have a Government that has classified as enemy, any patriotic, conservative gun-owners who desire a return to a Government tethered to the Constitution.

The Framers of the Constitution first established Justice as a principle essential to our way of life. Our belief in Justice mandates that all are innocent until proven guilty. There is no Justice found in banning firearms with which law-abiding citizens have posed no threat to society. The tragic events are horrible, but you are just as likely to be struck by lightning than fall victim to spree killing. I do not say that to be callous about events where people have lost their lives. If the Government is allowed to steadily strip Americans of its rights and defenses, we have a de facto coup and America may go the way of the dinosaurs.

The hyperbolic argument that “assault weapons” are too dangerous and unneeded in our society is simply manufactured to aid their agenda to disarm the American people. That this agenda largely ignores the criminal and mental health behaviors, which are at the root of the violence, shows this is not a conspiracy theory, but rather a fact. Beware the sleeping giant that now stirs from his slumber.


Molon labe

Thank You Antony for another wonderful submission. Please check out Anthony’s blog: The Radical Middle If you would like to contribute to The D.C. Clothesline please email me at [email protected] -Dean Garrison

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