Monday, December 17, 2012
Love Your Gun More Than The Children
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.
--Second Amendment, United States Constitution
One of my neighbors asked me to go out on a walk through the salt marshes on the border between Hampton and Hampton Falls, where the Seabrook Nuclear plant sits. He had planned an early morning excursion, just after sunrise, and he planned to bring his dog and his rifle.
"You can shoot a gun there?" I asked amazed. "There're houses along the salt marshes and there's a road.
"Yeah, it's fine," he told me. "It's legal."
I declined the offer.
Now an article in today's New York Times comes the report that the Newtown police commission tried to get an ordinance passed to limit shooting of guns to 500 feet from occupied buildings. It was defeated. People in Newtown had disturbed their neighbors by firing weapons which sounded like machine guns from morning into the night. There was no ordinance to prevent it. Mary Ann Jacob, the librarian at Sand Hook Elementary who saved many lives, had been part of the petition to enhance the ordinance. "Right now," she had testified, "If you're standing on your property and my house is 20 feet away, you can shoot."
One of the incidents which prompted calls for the ordinance was gun fire in a wooded area on Cold Spring Road, right across from an elementary school, A police commission member testified, "I've hunted for many years, but the police were getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode."
The meetings to consider the new ordinances occurred last August and the representative of the National Shooting Sports Federation said there was greater danger of swimming accidents than shooting accidents. "This is a freedom that should never be taken away. Teach kids to hunt, you will never have to hunt your kids."
Say what? Hunt your kids? Catchy, though.
Another Newtown resident, owner of a shooting range, Scott Ostrosky, said, "Guns are why we're free in this country."
Funny, I would have thought the Constitution is why we are free, but then again the Constitution as interpreted by Justice Antonin Scalia and his fellow "orginalists" the "strict constructionists" may give me pause.
I have read the arguments about the history of the 2nd amendment, from its creation in the 18th century, and the origins of the concerns which led to its inclusion in the Bill of Rights. Academics date the idea of a free society requiring an armed citizenry back to the 1600's in England, when a Catholic king tried to disarm Protestants, but all that sounds like academic masturbation to me.
The fact is, as I read the Constitution, correct me if I'm wrong, but the 2nd amendment is the only place in the entire document where the founding fathers actually tell you the reason they grant a right--the right to keep and bear arms is there because we want to be sure militias function to preserve a free state. They did not have a standing army, just militias and there was no defense budget then, so if you wanted a militia you had to have private citizens buy their own guns for that purpose.
But as Antonin Scalia has it:
Nowhere else in the Constitution does a "right" attributed to "the people" refer to anything other than an individual right. What is more, in all six other provisions of the Constitution that mention "the people," the term unambiguously refers to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset.
Well, that's very nifty, Mr. Scalia, but completely irrelevant and immaterial. We are talking about a unique set of sentences, one in which the authors tell you why they are providing a right and saying, quite clearly, it's for one purpose and one purpose only, and they define the right as belonging to a specific category of person--that person who would be part of a militia to protect a free state, not to protect himself personally.
Next to "obfuscation" in the dictionary, place a photograph of Mr. Scalia. Either the man is being willfully blind, or he simply has not read the relevant amendment, or if he has read it, he has not understood plain speech.
What you really have to wonder about is how many of our neighbors and citizens so adore blowing up propane tanks and firing weapons they are willing to endure a quarterly blood letting of six year olds so they can thrill to the excitement of shooting their guns.
They are correct, that simply passing a law against AR-15 guns, the attack rifle favorite of both mass killers and gun enthusiasts who simply love blowing things away, will not prevent the next maniac from getting his hands on one, on his mother's or his brother's or his friend's gun. To clamp down on this exceptional sort of disease event you'd need to do more than just make an antibiotic available; you'd need public health measures to identify the likely perpetrators, institutions to confine them, security cameras to watch for them approaching schools and day care centers. And even then, there will be "events."
I do not believe, at least not yet, that passing a single law would prevent rampages by maniacs. But just looking at who is on the gun side of this debate, I'm prepared to vote with Maud--screw the bastards. Make 'em all illegal.
Posted by the phantom speaks at 12:48 PM