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Gun owners have right to carry, but others have right to safety

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:14 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Frankly, I don’t see much point in Congress passing any more gun laws. I think by now, American citizens have enough guns to secure Afghanistan from al-Qaida. I would rather Congress pass a law requiring individuals to attend a one-hour class where they would be instructed on the number of human lives lost and the financial cost to society by gun-related violence each time they purchase a gun. At least they would be informed of the downside of the activity in which they were participating.

The Preamble to the U. S. Constitution lists six purposes for ordaining and establishing the document. The third purpose was to insure domestic tranquility. It then to names the 10 original amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights. Many consider the Second Amendment controversial. The reason for the controversy is that a militia is mentioned before affirming the right of people to keep and bear arms. The 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."

Each state has a National Guard that constitutes a militia. Beyond that, the federal government has an Army, a Navy, a Marine Corps, an Air Force and a Coast Guard. Nevertheless, most people can legally keep and bear arms. The majority of the people who do do not use weapons to shoot other people. But some of them do.

For example, on March 8, a man strolled into First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., and shot and killed the pastor while he was delivering his sermon. He also wounded two worshipers. On March 29, a man walked into a nursing home in Carthage, N.C., and shot and killed seven residents and a nurse and wounded three others. On April 3, a man shot and killed 14 people, including himself, and wounded two others in Binghamton, N.Y. On April 4, an armed gunman shot and killed three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pa., and wounded two others. This is only a partial list of gun-related violence in the past several weeks.

Now, the point is that gun owners and members of the National Rifle Association are very outspoken about their right to own guns and the courts agree to their interpretation of the Second Amendment. My question is, How do the rest of the citizenry receive their rights to domestic tranquility that the Constitution was established to ensure? Do we have to file lawsuits or is our state or municipality obligated to post a guard at every citizen’s door to protect him or her from these lunatics? We are at the point where we need to get serious about this matter.

At the moment, we seem to be a nation of guns, not of laws. And I’m sure we all appreciate the fact that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. So, in order to protect ourselves, should we wear bulletproof armor on a daily basis? I mean, even in our homes? After all, these people carrying guns are total strangers to most of us.

I’m not blaming gun owners for this state of affairs. Like the mortgage bankers, most of them are not doing anything but what the law permits them to do. If the law assumes all gun owners and mortgage bankers are harmless, law-abiding citizens, then we need to look at the people who pass these laws. At the rate we are going, a return to the Old West is imminent.

On the other hand, the Ninth Amendment (which no one ever mentions), states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” No kidding, how come no one tells these gun people that they don’t have the right to disparage the right of the rest of us to domestic tranquility? Has the Supreme Court advised the National Rifle Association about the contents of the Ninth Amendment?

Now, I have lived in America all my life, so I’m tuned in to the fact that in every case, we go from one extreme to the other. While people in some other countries might see that this situation is out of hand, most Americans have no problem with demanding their rights without exercising any responsibility. That is their understanding of what freedom means.

Well, my sympathies go out to the individuals and families of those who have been hurt by these outrageous incidents. I really do not believe that this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. Too bad our lawmakers choose to ignore the Ninth Amendment.

Maybe the next two generations will see the stupidity of this addiction to guns. Until then, we’ll have to learn to live with it as best we can.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.

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Comments

John Schultz April 14, 2009 | 11:08 a.m.

I think Ms. Nolen would be wise to consult a Constitutional lawyer about her "domestic tranquility" argument. I would be surprised if there is case law stating that the Constitution's Preamble is in any way binding. I have heard liberals in the past use the General Welfare portion of the Preamble to justify government providing services and funds to the poor, but they never acknowledge what the founders said about that clause, such as:

"To refer the power in question to the clause "to provide for common defense and general welfare" would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper. Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms "common defense and general welfare" embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust."

Full text of the Madison's veto available at http://www.constitution.org/jm/18170303_...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 14, 2009 | 11:11 a.m.

Another quote by Madison:

"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare,
and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare,
they may take the care of religion into their own hands;
they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish
and pay them out of their public treasury;
they may take into their own hands the education of children,
establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union;
they may assume the provision of the poor;
they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads;
in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation
down to the most minute object of police,
would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power
of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for,
it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature
of the limited Government established by the people of America."

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance April 14, 2009 | 12:22 p.m.

And some of the founding fathers held people in bondage and slavery. Sorry if I don't share your enthusiasm for some of the founding fathers

However Nolen is flawed in her assessment on a militia. There are the general militia and the select militia. The select militia would be the National Guards et. al. They keep their arms in an armory. The phase "keep AND bear arms" would apply to a general militia.

I do agree with her that we cannot assume all buyers of weapons do so benevolently and background checks should continue.

(Report Comment)
Paul Kersey April 15, 2009 | 5:16 a.m.

Rose, here are some earlier thoughts on what contitutes the militia - long before the National Guard existed.

"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
--George Mason

"Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. [...] To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on "militia" in the 2nd Amendment

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins April 15, 2009 | 12:13 p.m.

The criminals and crazies are already armed. As a rule, and by definition, they don't obey laws, and ignore those cute little signs that say "NO WEAPONS ALLOWED". They seek out easy targets.

The good news is your general thug and nut are not very brave, either. But, they don’t need to be when confronted with a brainwashed and increasingly disarmed public.

My choice to carry a weapon is no threat to anyone except those who would try to harm me.

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers." – Justice Story 1833

(Report Comment)

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