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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Founders, Guns, Rights and Me

Gun violence, mass shootings and other senseless tragedies are occurring on an increasing basis in the United States of America.  I do not agree with the 'do nothing' approach.

I worked through my thoughts and research in a previous post.  Here, I am going to solidify my (current) views on the subject - re-using some of the previous post.

The much talked about Second Amendment 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."

The NRA and others kind of ignore the first part or try to dismiss it as not meaning what it says.  They focus only on the second part - the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  But, lets agree that we don't need any new laws about who can own what kind of gun and where they can carry that gun.  We may need to take a few of the existing ones off the books, just to simplify things.

Now, lets go look at the first part of the Second Amendment - A Well Regulated militia.  So, what does "well regulated" mean?  I'm fairly sure it doesn't mean highly controlled by legislation and restrictions.  Some have suggested that it meant "well supplied or equipped," but that doesn't seem to hold up.
"Hamilton indicates a well-regulated militia is a state of preparedness obtained after rigorous and persistent training."
It seems fair and accurate to me to state that "well regulated" in the 2nd Amendment means "Well Trained and Disciplined."

The Founders and others have left us some quotes on how they saw the matter:

"The right of the people to keep and bear...arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country..." (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789])
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them." (Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)..)
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States" (Noah Webster in 'An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution', 1787
"...but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights..." (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.)
It is clear, from reading many more quotes and letters than those I have linked to, that the Founders did, in fact, intend for all able bodied men to be armed and prepared to go to war.  Those last two quotes above, among others, make it very clear that the founders never considered the might and power of current military and military weapons. It is also clear that the Founders did not intend for the United States to have a standing, active military.  Citizens were to be trained and well armed and called into service in an army only in times of need.  So if your measure of what should be done is what is in the constitution and what the Founders intended, then we have to disband all branches of the military.

The times, technology and environment has changed drastically from what the Founders knew and envisioned.  Solutions must be allowed to consider the whole environment of the problem.

My current proposal to actually do something constructive to help prevent mass shootings and suicide by cop killing sprees is as follows:

1. The Federal and State governments should enact a high tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. (Please breathe and continue reading)

2. The State governments should formulate and offer an extensive training course that covers all aspects of owning and using a firearm.  They should provide this course free of charge to anyone over the age of Twelve years.

3. Having passed the course, you receive a card (photo ID, valid for voting) or an endorsement on your drivers license that greatly reduces the Federal and State taxes on firearms.  This reduction may or may not be tied to the score achieved in the course.

4. The State governments should have several gun ranges set up so that people can test their marksmanship.  If people achieve a certain score indicating that they can hit a target more times than not, then they get a "Gun Control" card, which greatly reduces or eliminates the Federal and State taxes on ammunition.  Again, this reduction may or may not be tied to the score achieved in the test.

The taxes collected would be used to fund the courses and to provide for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute those who commit crimes with firearms.

I think the course should be done in segments.  Maybe a week for each segment?  Three days?  The details will have to be worked out, naturally.

I believe the first part of the course should be some kind of psychological preparedness class.  Something like :
  • Gun Responsibility
    • Guns are used to Kill
    • Regional and Local laws regarding Firearm Possession, Open Carry, Concealed Carry and the use of deadly force
    • When to use a gun and when not to
    • Living with Taking a Life
    • The Social responsibility of Owning and Carrying a Firearm
    • Using a gun to commit a crime
    • Your gun used by someone else to commit a crime
The next class would focus on the basics of gun ownership.  Like :
  • Gun Ownership
    • Storage and Security
    • Cleaning and Maintenance
    • Transporting
  • Gun Handling ( At the Shooting Range training )
    • Safe Carry
    • Aiming - sights, scopes and accuracy
    • Before you Squeeze the Trigger
    • Shooting - Squeeze the Trigger
    • After you Squeeze the Trigger
    • Cleaning and Maintenance (yes, again)
The final class would focus on the physical aspects and combat readiness.  Like :
  •  Keeping your head in a Stressful Situation
    • Gun use in self defense
    • Gun use in combat
    • Avoiding gunfire
    • Triage for Gunshot wounds
    • You've been Shot!
  • Paintball Field Exercises!!
Once all three segments of the course are completed to satisfaction, the Course Certificate is issued.  There should be some kind of continuing education to keep the certification up to date.  One class per year or the whole course every five years or some such timing to keep things fresh.

Also, owning a combat style rifle and passing the course would make you eligible to be called up to defend our nation in times of need.  A true Militia.

What do you think?