Friday, March 06, 2009

Second Thoughts

I let my NRA membership lapse 25 years ago because I was growing tired of the gun control hysteria every time some effete liberal yankee politician got birdy regarding firearms.

I'm a bit of a student of our Constitution--it's always a good idea to know what it is you are swearing an oath to defend with your life. I've studied the Federalist Papers; heard and appreciated (if not agreed with) the arguments from all sides regarding the intent of the Framers. I have, as a result, come to a personal interpretation of the Second Amendment; and it ain't in line with the hyperventilators of the National Rifle Association. For those who have egregiously failed to read their re-United States Owners Manual, or have forgotten the contents of the Bill of Rights since they last looked at them sometime in their childhood, here's the Amendment in question:

"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."

Proponents of unlimited access to and possession of firearms, chief among them the NRA, single out and hang their collective hats on the second half of the Amendment. Proponents of gun control, and those seeking to restrict the types of firearms a citizen may possess, point to the first half of the Amendment as indicating that the Framers' intent was maintenance of an armed and "well regulated militia" for homeland defense. At the time of the writing of its constitution and its first ten amendments, the young country was still beset on every border by clear and present dangers to its security. There was no standing army (the fear of which was ingrained in our European forefathers), and state militia, (the forerunner of our current National Guard) comprised of private citizens who would drop plow, pen, or hammer and take up arms in crises, were the only organized armed force available to deal with the threat of internal insurrection (such as the Whiskey Rebellion and Shays Rebellion) or external uprising on the frontier. That militia, armed and proficient with their own firearms, was clearly what the Framers were addressing with the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Let me be clear and honest: I own guns--a lot of 'em--and I am, what you might safely assume, rather proficient with them, thanks to my Dad and the United States Marine Corps. But, I'm not as comfortable as my friends and neighbors in the NRA with the concept of unregulated access to and possession of firearms. Frankly, and this is a founding principle of the Tallahatchie Free State (an opposition government formed as much hand on wallet as tongue in cheek), I firmly feel that no one should be allowed to own a firearm--or vote, for that matter--unless he or she has earned that privilege via honorable uniformed military or police service.

With all the above said, I am a bit worried about the concealed intentions of the sponsors of the House Bill H. R. 45, also known as "Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009" (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-45). While seemingly innocuous and reasonable on its face, the bill contains a few worrisome provisions, which, taken to logical extremes, could result in the very restrictive regulation of firearm ownership about which the NRA has heretofore participated in the aforementioned collective hyperventilation. The bill would amend Section 922 of title 18, United States Code to require licensing of any citizen wishing to own or possess a firearm. That seems reasonable enough, you might say. After all, you have to be licensed to legally drive an automobile. Yes, but, there is no license required for ownership or possession of a car or truck. I have no problem with my government reasonably regulating the use of my firearms (it already does that through hunting license requirements and hunting regulations regarding seasons and hours during which, and weapons and ammunition with which, I may unleash my primal apex predator instincts). I do, however, have a HUGE problem with my government's mouth-breathing bureaucratic minions having access to my mental health records--an odious and dangerously Stalinistic requirement of licensure included in the bill in question.

You won't need my mental health records to figure out just how crazy I am if you try to enforce that one!
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