As the last of the angels and their protectors are laid to rest the numbness we have felt as a nation remains. What have we become? How many innocents are to be sacrificed to appease the few whose hobbies include these weapons? Was the Second Amendment really meant to guarantee the right to possess weapons designed for mass killings?
“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 is what the founding fathers adopted. The Amendment found its birth in the English Bill of Rights as noted by British jurist, William Blackstone’s, Commentaries on the Laws of England : “The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute . . . and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”
Neither Blackstone nor our founding fathers foresaw the nature of today’s weaponry. The English Bill of rights stemmed from an act of Parliament in 1689. Weaponry at the time consisted of muskets, blunderbusses, swords and pikes. When Congress and the States ratified the Second Amendment the implements of war had not progressed much since 1689. No one foresaw the ability to pull a trigger that in an instant could cause so much death.
The need to preserve a well regulated militia made sense after we had fought and won our independence on the shoulders of farmers armed with muskets. Today we have state and local police forces and civilian soldiers in our National Guard. What enemy are we arming ourselves against? I don’t own a gun and don’t advocate gun ownership; but I understand the need of some to keep a weapon in their homes for self protection. Certainly in this age of increasing home invasions that right should not be curtailed.
I remember when I was working my way through law school as a “store detective” with a New Haven department store. I was a supernumerary New Haven police officer– kind of a rent-a-cop with limited arrest authority restricted to my employment. The store was holding a warehouse sale and I was assigned to pick up the cash receipts, about $6,000.00. They handed me a revolver. I had no idea how to use the thing and promptly removed all the bullets. Did they really think I was going to get into a gun battle over the store’s receipts? I recall telling my dad, a former Bridgeport cop, about this. His response was, “If you take the gun out you better be prepared to fire it otherwise the other guy will take it from you and shoot you with it.”
Over two million people in this country think they need to be armed with assault rifles. Countless others have multi-shot hand guns. I have a number of friends who hunt, for the table or for sport. They preserve the trophy for display and meat for the table. None of them would consider using a semi-automatic weapon for that purpose.
The Newtown massacre will hold our attention for awhile. Even the NRA is soft-pedaling its otherwise aggressive defense of these weapons. The political tidal wave is building toward another ban. Equally as important is the need to look at what our politicians have gutted from mental health services. As the story of this single mom is developing we should also consider the plight of parents of damaged kids like Adam Lanza. So many parents struggle to cope with or control youngsters like him. There is much for us as right thinking people to focus on. It should not have taken the death of 20 angels and the heroic teachers and administrators.