Birthdays are supposed to be joyous occasions for most, marking another milestone in one’s life---a celebration with one’s family and friends for making it to see another year---and are often accompanied with good memories of the past----past birthday parties, past presents, past milestones and accomplishments, etc…. Not all have fond memories of their birthday, however, as they reflect on past failures or look at another year as just growing older with no hope it seems.
I have always had pleasant memories of my birthday in particular, from childhood to adulthood, presents or none---it has always been a fun day for me with family and friends. I was even surprised this past year with a little party at work that morning, something I had never had previously at any place of employment. Indeed, my last birthday was set to be another one to remember, with good memories and times with co-workers, friends, and family. But a happy day it was not to be, as news soon came of an horrific tragedy that had occurred, none like we had seen before in recent memory.
It was December 14, 2012---what seemed to begin as an ordinary day in Connecticut and throughout our land. The day quickly changed for the worse, however, as early that morning a young gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing twenty young, helpless children, most of whom were between the ages of 6 and 7 years of age, as well as six adults. The shooter was only 20 years old himself, too young in the state of Connecticut to carry or own a handgun, but not too young to carry an assault rifle.
The primary rifle he used in the shooting carried at least 30 rounds of ammunition; the shooter fired between 50 – 100 rounds with all the weapons he had with him, before turning one on himself. All the weapons belonged to his mother, whom he had also shot and killed that morning. Heartbreaking----Catastrophic----Dreadful----Tragic----Unbelievable. Words do not describe what had occurred that day----young children with so much hope for the future, with so much excitement and anticipation for the holidays that were soon to come, with their young precious lives taken from them in the blink of a second by a deranged madman.
This leads us to the topic of Gun Control---the mere phrase itself raises the hairs on the heads of the NRA establishment and stands in contradiction to our Second Amendment rights as a people of our great nation.
The Second Amendment to our Constitution states the following: “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.” Our United States Supreme Court has ruled, as many of us long believed, that an individual’s right to possess a firearm is unconnected to service in a militia, and is indeed protected by the Second Amendment [District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)].
We the people have had the right to own basically any kind of gun that we desire since the original assault ban weapon legislation was allowed to expire in 2004. Our rights to own these guns are protected, and rightfully should be. The original framers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, or First Ten Amendments to the Constitution, believed strongly in the right to have standing, armed militias, and the rights of the people individually to own guns to defend and protect themselves, their homes, their families, and their land from attack. From that time until now, other than the 10 year ban from 1994-2004 on assault weapons, we the people have had these rights to do so, and to own any type of gun we choose. In these troublesome times abroad, with terrorists on the loose throughout the world and throughout our nation, and with uncertain stability in the world the norm now, we the people should continue to be allowed to own any type of gun we desire so that we will be able to protect our homes, families, and land when needed as well.
We do not know the time that we will need them, and with the possibility of great defense cuts on the horizon and our military being downsized, we must be assured that we are able to protect ourselves when the time does come.
Our President, as mentioned in his State of the Union last week, wants a gun ban. Do we need legislation in place to curtail such incidents as the Newtown horror reference above, or the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting last year, or the other isolated shootings that have astonished us all and left us breathless?
Will legislation actually work to do this if passed? There are those of the opinion that it did not work from 1994-2004, and that it will not work again. If someone wants an assault weapon bad enough to commit such a crime, they will find one. It may not be as easy, but it will still be possible. And that should scare us the most, because then these type weapons will be in the wrong hands of the wrong people, while the rest of us will be defenseless against them if a ban does exist.
It is true that an assault weapon was used in Newtown, but semiautomatic handguns and shotguns were actually used in the shootings at Aurora, Columbine, and Virginia Tech. Does this mean we now ban shotguns and handguns for good measure as well? Or shouldn’t they have been discussed first to be banned, and not assault weapons?
Even if our President and Democrats in power wanted to attack handguns and shotguns, they knew they would be quickly hauled out of office on a rail if they had even thought such. Too many normal, ordinary, law-abiding, and sane Americans own handguns and shotguns to even bother the attempt. So, why attack assault weapons? Does it scare us to think that we too might be subject to the other end of one of these weapons too one day? Is that the reason we want to get them off the streets now, because one madman committed a despicable, disgraceful act, so, as a result, they all should be banned?
Other legislation that has been suggested could be better suited and less imposing that an assault weapons ban, such as background checks, or limits on magazines, clips, or rounds. Background checks should be essential when purchasing a gun, but even a background check would not have protected our loved ones at Newtown; remember, the guns used were owned by the mother, and it was the deranged son who committed the crime, and not her, so a background check would have done little good.
And limits on rounds seems similarly in violation of the Second Amendment as banning any gun does; we should be able to own as many rounds as a weapon will hold, and again this is for the same reasons as mentioned above --- we need to be equally able to protect ourselves from our enemies who will in all likelihood own the maximum number of clips an assault weapon holds; these are unstable times in the world with terrorists on the attack; etc…, etc…
It is said that Thomas Jefferson made the profound statement, “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” Whether he actually did say this or not, the absolute truth of the statement remains. Our founding fathers wanted citizens of our new republic to be able to preserve, protect, and defend our rights and freedoms, our families and lands. We must be in a position to do so now more than ever before in our history.
What is the solution to this problem? I have a child of the same age as the children killed at Newtown. It broke my heart then, and still does now, to think about it or the possibility of this happening closer to home or ever again. Our schools, playgrounds, common places and work places must be protected. There are deranged lunatics out there.
We can’t stop them all. But we can be educated, have adequate defenses and plans in place, and be ready and prepared for such incidents in the future. Does this call for an assault weapons or gun ban of any kind? Probably not. But it does call for us to unite as a people and come up with solutions that will benefit and protect us from such in the future as best we can plan, to prevent such from happening again, the best that we can. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those affected by these tragedies, and with our leaders in Washington who will make the policies that affect all of our lives in the days ahead.