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.
Democratic Congressmen from the US House of Representatives have chosen to act like a disenfranchised minority and copy the dysfunctional, obstructionist tactics of their Republican counterparts by holding a “sit-in,” until the House Leadership agrees to hold a vote on their gun control agenda. In turn, the Republican Leadership has chosen to censor coverage of their civil demonstration. As both Congressional Republicans and Democrats have been empowered by the American People to represent their interests in the legislative process, the situation does little except demonstrate how both sides hijack government for their agendas.
That said, Democrats appear to be pushing for reasonable provisions, including tighter background checks and curbs on the sale of weapons to people on government watch lists. In turn, Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Susan Collins, seem willing to compromise. Unfortunately, the threshold to be placed on a watch list like the “no-fly” list, can very low and random while the process for appealing the placement of one’s name on the list is nearly non-existent. Clearly, compromise is needed to protect People’s Second Amendment Rights and Right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize increased responsibility on behalf of gun owners and sellers is not enough to address violent crime. Increased legal restrictions on the sale and ownership of guns cannot eliminate violent crime. The reasons people chose to engage in violent attacks need to be addressed, which is a challenge that political officials avoid. While gun advocates can be blamed for resisting even the most reasonable measures to safeguard the public from those who will abuse their Second Amendment Rights to attack others, the single-mind pursuit of increasingly tighter bans and legal restrictions on gun ownership creates resistance.
The failure to defend the civil liberties of one is a failure to defend the civil liberties of all. This is particularly true when it is inconvenient or offensive to do so. For the sake of ease and self-interest, it is tempting to simply reason away the rights of others, or even deny their existence, yet the failure to defend the freedoms of others undermines the freedoms of everyone. When it comes to addressing gun violence, the need to balance Second Amendment rights with gun control measures is no different.
Just as free speech and religious freedom from government persecution are civil liberties, so is the right to own and bear arms. Americans are accustom to hearing the “civil liberty” term attached to Left-wing causes, but that does not disqualify gun rights from their status as civil liberties. Civil liberties, also known as cultural or social rights, are fundamental rights afforded to all citizens of a nation. Civil liberties in the United States are derived from the Bill of Rights. Where the First Amendment establishes the freedom of expression as a civil liberty, the Second Amendment enshrines the right to own and bear arms as a civil liberty.
Consequently, Congress nor the President nor the Supreme Court has the authority to undermine the Civil Liberties of the American People by denying people their right to purchase, own, and use guns in a responsible manner. Instead of seeking to bar people from their civil liberties without Due Process, public policy must seek to encourage responsible gun ownership and use. In order to address the negative impact guns have on communities throughout the United States, both advocates for gun rights and advocates for gun control need to pursue a balanced legislative agenda.
A balanced agenda for the gun lobbyists should include:
1. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Shew v. Malloy to overlook a Connecticut ban on certain semi-automatic weapons and large ammonization magazines demonstrates a failure to protect civil liberties. One major purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect people from government and military oppression. As the military has automatic weapons and the Second Amendment was created, in large part, to counterbalance the might of the military, the Second Amendment guarantees citizens can own these weapons. Instead of banning semi-automatic weapons and large magazines, i.e. violating people’s civil liberties, the focus should be on restricting dangerous people from buying such weapons via higher level permitting for more dangerous weapons.
2. Embracing wait periods on sales of shot guns, pistols and automatic guns that can used in a heated moment to cause mass causalities.
3. Identifying when the government has a compelling state interest to restrict an individual’s Second Amendment rights.
4. Embracing more extensive background checks for automatic weapons.
5. Obtaining subsidies for gun safety training as part of a requirement for carrying permits to encourage safe handling of guns.
6. Gun owners must handle their guns responsibility. When they are not using their guns, they need to store them in a safe and secure means. As such, public policy should clarify and increase the legal penalties for negligent gun owners whose weapons are lost or stolen and never reported lost or stolen.
7. Crafting a streamlined process that allows individuals, who have had their Second Amendment Rights restricted due to criminal records and mental illness, to restore their Constitutionally guaranteed rights.
8. Restoring the full Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding citizens who are 18 and over by allowing them to purchase handguns and shotguns where they are prohibited from doing so.
9. Obtaining subsidies for permitting to alleviate the financial constraints that impede the Second Amendment Rights of the poor.
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