Gun violence is tragic; should we ban guns?
(Guns/Gun Control)

You aren’t human if your heart doesn't hurt for the innocent victims of senseless gun violence. Several incidents have made the national news lately, but every metropolitan area across this great land deals with this — usually on a smaller level — on a regular basis. But you can’t let that lead to bans on guns.

In most cases, the person doing the shooting broke the law by having their hands on a gun. Take the case of the woman who rented a gun at a shooting range, signing a document attesting she’d never been institutionalized for mental problems. She lied. And you can’t blame the range — health privacy laws means there would have been no way for them to verify the truth. So she rents the gun, kills her son, then herself. A tragedy, but she broke the law.

Even if someone legally owns a gun and then uses it in a crime, the answer is not to ban guns. Do you really think that would take guns off the street? How naive are you? Black markets exist to provide contraband to those willing to pay the price. Guns will find their way into criminal hands and only the law abiding citizens will be unarmed.

And please don’t compromise and call for selective banning. Many hop on the bandwagon to ban what the media likes to call ‘assault weapons’ — fully automatic weapons. Don’t go there. A city police chief, responding to a tragic innocent child’s murder, said, “Assault weapons are good for one purpose only, and that’s to kill other human beings. They don’t belong on any street in America.” While I agree with the first part of his statement, I have problems with the second. What he should have said there was, “They don’t belong in the hands of criminals.”

Now I'm sure right now there are some people reading this and screaming at their computers. And I can imagine what kind of names I’m being called. Sure, fully automatic weapons aren’t needed for hunting. And yes, they’d probably be overkill to protect yourself during a home invasion. But people who would make those arguments forget the other reason our founding fathers made the right to keep and bear arms the second of the original ten in the Bill of Rights. Let me quote their words:

James Madison, in Federalist No. 46, says the Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

In Federalist 28, Alexander Hamilton states, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. … The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”

Tench Coxe, writing under the pseudonym “A Pennsylvanian” in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 (Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution) wrote, “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

In a speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778, Patrick Henry said, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

More recently, even the liberal Senator Hubert Humphrey said, “The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny, which though now appears remote in America, history has proven to be always possible.”

So while citizens don’t have weapons comparable to what today’s standing army has — with tanks, missiles, etc. — at least ‘assault weapons’ will help even the playing field a little bit. I hope and pray it never comes to that. But our founding fathers certainly saw the need to throw off the yoke of a tyrannical government, and like them, we must be ever vigilant.

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