By George Eastwood
I certainly share Darell Beck’s frustrations with the best government that money can buy, its unnecessary intrusions into our lives, and its failures to connect with the real needs of ordinary citizens. However, the current public debate on gun control is not about “defying the Second Amendment and actively working to deny Americans the right of self-defense.” It is about earnestly working together as a community and motivating our government to find a real solution to the serious problem of gun violence in our country.
When I was growing up in the 1950s, parents were able to send their kids off to kindergarten school without ever worrying about whether or not their child’s flesh would be literally and violently torn apart with numerous rapidly fired expanding bullets designed to maim and murder. No parent should have to fear for the safety of their child in school. Times change and new challenges arise that must be addressed.
Community and good government requires a balancing of each of our personal rights and freedoms with our equally important responsibilities as citizens to support a peaceful, lawful, and fair society that serves the common good of the society we all share.
Freedoms and rights are never absolute. Personal freedoms are necessarily limited when those “rights” unreasonably impinge on the rights of others or the common good. One cannot falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, cause a panic, and call it “freedom of speech.” Nor can one contaminate common water supplies or pollute the atmosphere we all breathe and then call it “property rights.”
The two fundamental “gun control” questions to be addressed by our elected representatives are (1) where do we, as a society, draw the line as to what type of guns and ammunition can be owned by citizens (that is, what weapons and ammunition should be reserved strictly for law enforcement and the military), and (2) how do we sensibly implement any new restrictions and still meet the spirit and intent of the Second Amendment?
The Second Amendment to the Constitution states: “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.” This amendment was written when minutemen were the militia, armed with single shot muzzle loaded rifles capable of firing two or three rounds per minute.
Fast forward to the 21st century: Should the Second Amendment now give a citizen a right to their very own atomic bomb, a F-16 fighter jet loaded with 2000 lb bombs, a 105 mm howitzer, a 50 caliber machine gun, a rifle, a shotgun, or a handgun or some combination thereof? Obviously no citizen has the right to own an atomic bomb, and therefore, that logically establishes the general principle that our elected government has the right to restrict what weapons can legally be owned by citizens.
I fully support the Second Amendment and the right of citizens to arm themselves to hunt, to defend their home, and to band together (in the very unlikely event that ever proves necessary) to oppose any dictatorship that has usurped our elected government and the Constitution. However, unlike the National Rifle Association (NRA), I do not have a need for a 30 round AR-15 to spray bullets everywhere to either hunt or defend my home. Six rounds is more than enough as I am trained to aim well and I generally hit my target on the first shot.
The remote possibility of a dictatorship coup is a primarily a figment of Hollywood imagination or used as a political scare tactic (effective only on the truly ignorant). Having served 20 years in the military and well understanding the U.S. military’s commitment and oath to defend the Constitution, a home grown dictatorship is near impossible. In the very unlikely event a dictator ever arose, no military in the world is a match for 300 million citizens armed with basic rifles, shotguns, or handguns.
Effective mental health care and elimination of easy access to weapons of mass death by irresponsible or unstable individuals will make our communities safer, not 100% safe, but certainly much safer than the insanity of unlimited weapons promoted by the NRA and the politicians in their pocket.
A six round rifle, shotgun, and handgun more than adequately meets the spirit and intent of the Second Amendment for a modern minuteman. Those who came to these shores on the Mayflower understood that it is the community’s responsibility to protect the most innocent among us, particularly when the price we pay as citizens is so very small — simply limiting an individual’s ability to inflict mass death on our children and neighbors.
George Eastwood is a Ramona resident.