Most Americans will agree that the United States is more or less defined by the principles in the First Amendment. We have freedom of speech, freedom for and from religion, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to petition our government. These are our core values.
Oddly enough, though, these core values have restrictions we almost all agree are appropriate. Our freedom of speech does not allow us to use hate speech, does not allow us to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. There are restrictions to the freedom of speech.
Our courts have ruled and upheld rulings that restrict a parent’s right to their religious expression when it may harm their child. Parents have rejected medical treatment for their children on religious grounds, but courts have ruled in the child’s favor and allowed treatment.
The news media can be sued for libel if they print known fallacies about someone or something. The news media do not have a “reporter-source” privilege. There are restrictions on the freedom of the press.
So why is it that there are no restrictions on the Second Amendment? This amendment is not universally loved as is the First, yet even the hint of a restriction on the right to bear arms brings out the big guns of the National Rifle Association, and woe be to the politician who disagrees with the NRA.
Most of the time, the only time we talk about gun restrictions is in the horrible aftermath of another mass shooting. We see one or two gunmen enter a school, a work place, an arena of entertainment and open fire, killing as many as 59 innocent Americans.
We are horrified at the carnage. We wring our hands in despair and frustration. We shake our fists in anger. We fold our hands in prayer. Then, when someone says we should do something about this, we take those same hands and we sit on them. We. Do. Nothing.
Sure, we hear the same knee-jerk reactions from both the left and the right. The left says, “We need more restrictions.” The right says, “Keep your hands off of our guns. Protect the Second Amendment. It’s not the guns; it’s the evil in our world.” And as a result of political cowardice and NRA hubris, nothing changes, and the next mass murder will bring about the same round of canned speeches and responses.
I, for one, am sick of it. And I suspect I am not alone.
Almost all of us have heard the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result.” Most of us have heard also, “The only thing that is needed for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.”
So, I am calling out the good people who strongly support the Second Amendment. I need you to recognize that the Second Amendment, like the First Amendment, has restrictions. The right to own a weapon ends when it threatens my safety.
I know that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible, caring people. I believe that these same people are sickened by the carnage that too frequently splashes across our newspapers and TV screens. I also know that many of my friends who strongly support the Second Amendment are people of faith. Most following Christian teachings.
I remind you of James 2:15-16: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well-fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”
I’ve heard enough about how sad it is that many innocent lives tragically ended because of someone with a gun. I’m tired about hearing how any given Democratic president is going to take your guns. Bill Clinton didn’t. The only thing that happened in his administration was the ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons. Not the confiscation of them; just a ban on them. And Barack Obama, despite what the NRA told you, never tried to restrict gun ownership beyond asking for tougher background checks after Sandy Hook.
No, Second Amenders, the ball is in your court. You tell us how to curtail the mass slaughter of American men, women and children without restricting the Second Amendment. But be intellectually honest with yourselves and admit it needs reasonable restrictions. Then come up with some.
Don’t tell me that the answer is to arm more Americans. That hasn’t worked. Nothing the NRA has proposed works. The idea of doing nothing has not been the answer, either.
It’s time for us to do something, and because you don’t like the ideas from the left, give me some of your own. Step up and make changes.
Otherwise, the insanity will continue, and we’ll be here again all too soon.