Why I Support the Second Amendment
Why I Support the Second Amendment
As a State Representation in Michigan in 2011-2012, I knew I could not be an expert on everything. My background and expertise lay in economics, law and business management. What Michigan needed then was to recover from the depths of the Great Recession, and that is where I focused. I had learned while serving as attorney for the Republican Caucus of the Washington State House of Representatives in 1981-1984 that to be effective a representative needed to focus on issues that matched their expertise and follow other representatives of like mind in their areas of expertise. I also sought to avoid being a single issue representative because I had learned that they simply were not very effective within their caucus as they were viewed as pariahs with little to offer on other issues, and thus ignored.
So, I approached gun issues as one of those important but peripheral issues to what I needed to focus on. I was and remain deeply concerned with the erosion of the checks and balances among the federal government branches and the “limits of the federal government” set up in the U.S. Constitution. I viewed and still view most efforts on gun control as yet another “small” erosion of the Constitution when laws attempted to chip away at the Second Amendment’s command, “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.” (And, as I say in my blog post “Am I a Libertarian?”, “I believe in the restrictions that are written in the U.S. Constitution. I believe the words of the Constitution should mean something and that courts should not decide cases that conflict with the words of the document because they interpret the words to apply differently to changes in circumstances from what existed when the Constitution was approved in 1787.” So, in my campaign in 2010, I was endorsed by the NRA and I was a reliable vote on NRA issues.
Fast forwarding to today, I have become concerned with the amount of gun violence in the United States, fueled by the well-publicized mass murders and resultant public outcry amplified by the media. Without any attempts to analyze data or any specific enacted or proposed legislation, the ideas of “universal background checks” and “red flag” laws sound attractive as means to keep guns out of the hands of people who may be dangerous to themselves and others. And, I must admit to being as guilty as many others as thinking maybe those laws could help. And, I can understand why many others may also believe so.
However, after learning even just a little bit about the effects of just these two laws, I am more skeptical due to due process issues and the ability of someone subjectively denying someone’s Second Amendment rights under those proposals. The concept of someone being judged as “guilty until proven innocent” by these laws is obviously a problem. The need for someone to defend him/herself as eligible to own a gun is also a significant and costly hurdle for someone who wants to purchase a gun. These would serve as a “chilling effect” on one’s exercise of one’s right to keep and bear arms. The parallel is used in the analysis of First Amendment rights, where government laws or actions that appear to target expression which have a “chilling effect” of deterring free speech and association rights are ruled unconstitutional. The same reasoning can and should be applied to Second Amendment rights. Such an approach would prevent the further erosion of the limits of the federal government intended by the Founders of our country when they drafted and the people approved the U.S. Constitution in 1787. See 'Red Flag' laws and their awful consequences for a full throated objection to the "Red Flag" laws, to which I agree.
Disclaimer: I do not own a weapon, and have not since I left home in 1967. I have not served in the military, as I was too nearsighted in 1970 to pass the Army physical. However, I completed a gun safety class as an undergraduate, enrolled in ROTC and even won the freshman rifle contest as a freshman (before dropping out of ROTC as too time consuming – a good move as I couldn’t have served if I had continued).
I used to hunt rabbits, ruffed grouse and deer, but since leaving home have gravitated to other sports, so have felt neither the need to own a gun nor the need to go through the training to obtain a concealed weapons permit. However, I wish to retain the right to purchase a gun if I were to feel threatened.
When I interviewed for a job in Detroit in 2009, had I taken that position I would have purchased a handgun, due to the neighborhood where the office was located. That ability of someone to defend themselves should not be infringed. Had I needed to “stand my ground” to defend myself, my family or my home, I surely would do so, and that right needs to be maintained. (Of course, there are some limits where the defense can be made without killing the perpetrator, but such “Monday morning quarterbacking” is a lot easier to do than in the stressful “heat of the moment”. It would appear that the concepts of “innocent until proven guilty” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” would protect a gun owner who used his/her weapon with reasonable apprehension of his or her safety.) But, this, and many other specific issues surrounding gun use, is something I would need to study further to reach a firm position on the details of current or proposed legislation. And that I will do as the need arises.