June 25, 2024

Laws, Courts Must Address Today’s Gun Realities

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Guns are the problem.

Too often, we’ve heard that it’s not guns but people and their use of an inanimate object – a gun – that is the problem. If we fix the people problem, we can fix their misuse of guns, it is argued. If we enforce current laws, we’ll solve the problem.

It’s the guns.

It’s their ready availability to people with mental health problems. It’s their availability to people who have been lied to and radicalized. It’s their easy availability to someone with a grudge. It’s the killing power designed for U.S. soldiers fighting battles. It’s the high-capacity magazines. It’s the profit motive of gunmakers.

We grew up in rural Minnesota hunting with our father, his friends, and our brothers in the fall. In high school, we hunted with classmates. After returning to western Minnesota from college, we hunted with friends. In recent years, we’ve hunted with our father-in-law in southeastern North Dakota on land owned by our wife’s brother-in-law – the number of ducks and pheasants we see is amazing.

We remember shooting competitions with our brothers and cousins with a .22 caliber rifle. We had all been through gun training programs. None of these events in our past with guns would be prevented in the future under common sense gun laws.

“Each generation makes its own Second Amendment,” Michael Waldman writes in his book “The Second Amendment – A Biography.” It is a history of the evolution of the Second Amendment, changing as our society and culture progressed beyond the times of the nation’s founding and the frontier.

The founders’ original intent in passing the Second Amendment was to ensure states had an armed militia, which, together with the other states, would have an armed force larger than any standing army of the federal government. Citizen soldiers, organized in a militia, would protect freedoms against a despot, or new would-be king, who would try to use a national military force against a state. It wasn’t long before the militias fell apart as citizen soldiers returned to pre-war life routines. 

With the Civil War era of 1861 to 1865, Americans were armed to a far greater degree. Those arms played a significant role in the bitter and brutal years that followed in the South, where Blacks continued to be repressed over the next 100 years.

People living on the frontier needed weapons for defense and hunting. But those in the growing cities of the East Coast found the ready availability of guns at the heart of an increasing number of violent crimes and suicides. Not needing to be part of a militia, not needing guns for survival on the frontier, they began instituting gun control measures to save lives.

In the years of the Revolutionary War, your musket was against the enemy’s musket. By the time of the Civil War, armaments hadn’t changed much.

The frontier is gone. The threat of a standing army going against the people’s will is unrealistic. If it ever did, good luck with your AR15 against a Reaper drone firing a missile from several miles away – you’ll never see it coming. Good luck against a fully armed Black Hawk helicopter, an M-1 Abrams tank, or an F-35 Lightning 11 fighter jet. 

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court has us living in the past.

Its rulings on gun rights, expanding them to take us back to a time of the wild west and Revolutionary War, fail to recognize our modern culture and guarantee more mass shootings and suicides. Today, our greatest enemies attack not from overseas but at home.

America’s enemy today is the person armed with an AR15 carrying a grudge against fellow workers, classmates, or citizens. It is the abusive spouse. It’s the person with mental health problems who can easily buy guns and high-capacity magazines to kill people to solve his problems. It is the person who takes his or her own life. It is the person who kills children in an elementary school.

Rather than regressing to gun laws based on the reasoning behind the writing of the original Second Amendment, we need gun laws for today’s realities. Rather than court rulings based on society’s threats and needs of times long past, we need to align court rulings with today’s threats.

Don’t touch the right to have a gun at home for protection or for hunting. But don’t allow to people carry weapons with no background checks, no training, and no permit. Outlaw weapons of war. Finally, ensure those with mental health or violent anger issues, or self-destructive impulses don’t have easy access to guns.

We’ve gone overboard on gun rights, ignoring those of human rights.

Bulletproof glass, double-entry security doors, and armed guards at schools – when do we stop turning our schools into fortresses for protection and start addressing the gun problem?

There are far too many targets for these angry, emotionally sick individuals. Are you going to set up perimeters around schools 300 feet out from where kids get off and board school buses? Are outdoor school sporting events going to have armed guards patrolling them?

What about our grocery stores, daycares, shopping malls, outdoor concerts, newspaper offices, public meetings, and all the places we simply can’t do enough to make safe against someone with an AR15 intent to kill as many people as possible?

It’s the gun. That is where prevention starts. Members of our legislative and congressional delegations should be urged to pass these measures that already have overwhelming public support:

– Reinstitute the 1994 ban on assault weapons. It expired in 2004 under a sunset provision in the law.

– Ban high-capacity magazines.

– Institute red flag laws that prevent people who show signs of threatening harm to others or themselves from possessing guns.

– Require background checks, even for private sales. This would not apply to inheritance unless the person was identified under a red flag law provision.

– Don’t adopt preposterous laws like North Carolina just did that remove the requirement of a concealed gun permit.

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