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Column: Second Amendment is not a suicide pact


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“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 right to bear arms” is not the only part of the Second Amendment worth reading. “Well-regulated” counts, as well. So does “security of a free state.”

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the purpose of a militia was not just to “resist tyranny” and “repel invasion.” It was also for that “free state” to be able to “put down insurrection.”

The framers of the Constitution never meant for the federal government to be powerless. Reading through The Federalist Papers — as well as versions of the Second Amendment submitted before it was approved — they gave the federal government specific power. Checked and limited in important ways, yes, but the whole Constitution is all about forming a strong central government.

What does the phrase “right to bear arms” even mean? The Constitution and First Amendment don’t tell us.

Did the Founding Fathers intend for you to own a nuclear weapon if you have the money and technology to put one together?

How about a grenade launcher? How about a surface-to-air missile?

Of course they didn’t. None of those things existed when the Bill of Rights was written. You cannot legally own a surface-to-air missile. Even though, if you apply a literal reading to the Second Amendment, you should have the right to.

No one’s that crazy. Yet.

Then again, if surface-to-air missiles were obtainable, you can bet someone, somewhere, would want a closet full of them.

“If you outlaw surface-to-air missiles, only outlaws will have surface-to-air missiles.” Right.

“The right to bear arms” has always been restricted by common sense and public welfare.

Semiautomatic weapons with 30-shot magazines weren’t around in 1791, either. Whether we allow them or restrict them is up to us. The Second Amendment was never meant to be a suicide pact.

You have to be kidding yourself to think we don’t have a problem with gun violence. Or that firearms crimes will be stopped if we just have more firearms. That’s like drinking whiskey to cure

alcoholism.

The problem began when guns stopped being tools — and started being security blankets.

How about New Englander Nancy Lanza? Some relatives described her as a “doomsday prepper.” She amassed multiple semiautomatic, high-capacity weapons, ready for the day she’d need to fight off government tyranny or invasion or whatever.

But, sheesh, she had more guns than she could ever use in a military action. Where’s the “well-disciplined” or the “security of the state” in that? It wasn’t about security. It was about security blankets.

Then, of course, her mentally ill son got hold of her guns and shot her repeatedly in the head with one. After which he drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed two dozen more people.

I don’t have easy answers. But I can’t think of a worse idea than guns in the hands of people who need security blankets. Where there’s a room full of high-capacity weapons, how long until someone else’s kid — or that kid’s disgruntled friend — gets a hold of some and kills a bunch more people?

The Second Amendment was never intended to be a suicide pact. It’s time for sanity to prevail.

The Rev. Dennis McCarty is a local minister.

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