We saw yesterday the House of Representatives, with heads bowed in prayer, remembering and praying for the people killed and injured in the Aurora, Colorado shootings. This is a familiar sight; we saw the same in the wake of the Gaby Gifford shootings. Everyone weeps and remembers. There are the usual calls and cries for gun control. Yet nothing is done. For one the politicians find it politically inexpedient to pursue such a track. And the people themselves are less than enthusiastic about gun control.
I remember much to my chagrin in 2008 when the Supreme Court ruled that the preparatory clause of the Second Amendment that begins, “A well regulated militia…” does not limit or amplify the clause that comes after, ” the right of the people to bear arms.” Despite the fact that I am a strict constructionist, I disagreed with that. When the founders wrote the Second Amendment, the states maintained militias, which were called up on a moment’s notice. It was required of an able bodied man to keep a firearm on hand to be used in the event of such a call up. There were no armories or state militia training facilities where arms were kept.
The anti-Federalists were also concerned that a check and balance was needed against the Federal government to prevent it from declaring martial law and/or war upon the states. So the citizen was given the right to bear arms in conjunction with participation in a well regulated state militia. Today there are no militias, and therefore no need for an able bodied man to keep a firearm at home. And it is highly unlikely the Federal government will declare martial law or attack any of the states. Well, maybe California.
But by de-linking the preparatory clause from the rest of the amendment, the Supreme Court’s decision let the “right of the people” clause to stand alone, thus allowing citizens to acquire and possess as many firearms of any type that they choose. This is a dangerous and intolerable situation. If the Congress and the American people are serious about gun control I believe a two pronged approach needs to be taken to remedy the situation. One, efforts must be undertaken in the Congress to repeal the amendment and simultaneously in the states to ensure that strong gun control laws are put in place. This will require a long, arduous state by state campaign. Perhaps a Bill Gates or George Soros would step up to fund a a 50 state effort to do this? And, dear reader, are you up to it?