To the Editor,
I understand our nation's initial responses to the shootings that have taken place recently include your suggestion, Mr. Ahern (Tony Ahern. "Assault weapons, why?" Madras Pioneer 19 Dec. 2012), that we ought to ban the sale and even ownership of certain weapons.
But while this initial response may cause us to feel that we have accomplished something meaningful and positive in order to gain security, there are fundamental flaws to this solution. The gravest issue with this solution is what trade we would be making. Since the U.S. Constitution was amended with the Bill of Rights in 1791, the right of the people of the United States to keep and bear arms has been guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
I understand, Mr. Ahern, that you are not a gun law expert, but the Second Amendment clearly states the purpose of this right. The expressed purpose of this right says nothing about the use or need of guns for sport. Rather the Second Amendment clearly states that the purpose and need for this right is defense; particularly defense from the overreach of government. And that right is given to the people, not law enforcement, not the state, and not military.
What you are proposing is that we give up some of our freedom in order to gain some security. Men and women who had lived under the oppression of others gave our freedoms to us and the price for freedom was often paid for in blood. These men and women knew the wickedness of suppressing the freedom of others and valued liberty not only for themselves but for all men and women.
Unfortunately, the evil of oppression, the history of our freedom, and the pricelessness of liberty has been forgotten by many. And the desire for security has supplanted the desire for freedom. So, little by little, we have yielded our freedoms in the name of security and have done so at an accelerated rate over the last 10 to 15 years.
But the issue of losing our right to keep and bear arms whether sporting type or military type is where we must draw the line. Our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and its amendments but only so long as it is enforced. It is nothing more than a piece of paper with words that state what the framework and limitation is for operating our federal government. And in the event that people in the government, whether politicians, bureaucrats, or military, choose to "walk through" that piece of paper, it will be the right preserved by the Second Amendment that will defend the people of this nation from falling back into oppression. Our right to keep and bear arms must not be infringed, even if it were to bring a moment of security.
I understand that you personally may not have a need or desire for one of these types of weapons. And I could go on to argue against your beliefs, Mr. Ahern, that banning certain weapons would bring a measure of security to our society, that our nation was more violent in previous decades or centuries than it should be today, and your use of the inflammatory word "assault" to describe certain weapons. But instead I will agree with you that we ought to do something, but that something isn't a ban. It is a return to valuing life. It is a return to personal accountability and responsibility. It is a return to the philosophy that there is an objective right and an objective wrong. It is a rejection of the idea that everyone is, and should be, a winner. It is a return to the value of a disciplined life and the reward of hard work. It is a return to placing the value of freedom over the comfort of security.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin