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Letter: Second Amendment being misinterpreted

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Alex Engelbert


Even the most casual observer among us will acknowledge the increase in gun violence throughout the United States.

Automated weapons have slipped into the hands of ordinary citizens and have unfortunately shown up in the workplace, movie theaters and the classrooms of our children.

Time and time again on television screens and in the local paper, we are forced to confront the grim reality of the seemingly frequent mass shootings. While many reasons are to blame for this increase in gun violence, one is as old as the Constitution itself.


As a high school social studies teacher I feel slightly more qualified to elaborate on the Second Amendment than the average citizen.

At the same time, I give due deference to those in the legal field whose three years of legal training surpass my own.

In any event permit me to give my interpretation of the Second Amendment. The founders never intended for the right to bear arms to apply to the general citizenry.

The Second Amendment as originally conceived was an effort on the part of the founders to arm a very poorly trained militia to fight a world power. Notice the wisdom of our founders by using the word militia as opposed to “everyone.”

Without a right to bear arms by the colonial militias, the fragile transition of our colonies to a slightly more resolute republic might never have been. The time for the mass use of guns by militiamen ended shortly after 1789. Yet guns plague our streets today now more than ever. Where did it all go wrong?

Generations of Americans firmly believed that their right to bear arms was absolute. So absolute that it led to the repeated ignorance and outright refusal to accept the amendment’s original intent.

Never before has a misunderstanding cost us so many young lives. The founders never intended for the right to bear arms to be so widespread as to only require money and be 18 years of age. That sentence may be the most frightening of all.

In many ways our country is facing a multitude of important issues not seen since the time of the Revolution and Civil War. At stake are more or less the same principles: What kind of commitment to our ideals are we willing to make?

Continuing to embrace an idea so wrong will only lead to more blood spilled on the streets of our neighborhoods. We cannot change 236 years of misguided legal precedent by American jurists, but we can do something.

We must increase the scrutiny of background checks and require all gun owners to register their weapons and addresses with police and government.

We must continue to reform our society to be one where people do not feel they must solve problems with violence. And above all, we must ignore the savage rhetoric of the NRA, which would have us believe that the answer to gun violence should be more guns. God have mercy on the NRA.

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