Amendment II -- 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.There are a lot of people saying that we're about to cross a line here, to which I have to ask, "what part of infringed do you not understand?" The word means weaken, destroy, violate, encroach. Folks, we crossed that line a long time ago!
Here's my concern: I have always said that The Constitution of the United States is still the official specification for the US government; the binding contract between We the People and our government. Any regime that distorts, deconstructs or disregards it is untrustworthy and dangerous. If we crossed that line a long time ago, what does that say about the regime? What does that say about We the People, for tolerating it?
By the way, it isn't just the second amendment at risk here. In 1913, congress abrogated its responsibility to regulate the money supply, and created The Federal Reserve System. We did nothing. In 1935, the regime imposed a mandatory retirement plan called Social Security. We did nothing. In 1965, the regime imposed a mandatory health care plan called Medicare. We did nothing. In 2011, the regime imposed a mandatory health care plan called ObamaCare. We re-elected them! It may be debatable whether these are great services, but they are "feature creep" -- grotesque usurpations of power, to name just a few, but we tolerate them. So, what does that say about us, indeed?
Dear reader, this is where the rubber hits the road: are we going to allow our government to infringe on our constitutionally guaranteed rights, or not? If not, what are we going to do about it? This is a scary question that separates the men from the boys. It's a deadly serious question. It isn't a radical question; it is the most conservative, liberal (in the truest sense of the words), question there is. Think carefully.
The Constitution has been so effective at constraining government for the first 150 or so years, that we have become too complacent, too trusting of our government. As a culture, we have forgotten how easy it is to lose our freedom. Thomas Jefferson noted in The Declaration of Independence,
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Our government has the might to take, or control our guns any time it wants. It can do it illegally, as it is doing now, or it can do it legally. If there wasn't a danger that government would abuse its power, we wouldn't need the Bill of Rights -- the first ten amendments to The Constitution. But We the People can decide as a nation that the second amendment is obsolete, and repeal it. Then it would be legal for government to attempt to regulate guns out of existence, if anyone really believes that is possible. However, before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we should note that freedom is very empowering. But with great power, comes great responsibility. Freedom is risky.
For example, the founders put the freedom of speech in the first amendment, to prevent government from persecuting people who discuss politics openly and question the authority of government. That is the benefit. The risk is that people will be irresponsible, and abuse that right. Pornography is a result. Shouting, "fire" in a crowded theater (when there is no fire) is a result.
Similarly, the second amendment exists for a variety of reasons: hunting, self-defense against wild animals (including humans), and not to put too fine a point on it, to give would-be tyrants and oppressors something to think about. That's the benefit. The risk is that people will be irresponsible, and abuse that right. Gun related crime is a result. Opening fire in a crowded theater (when there are no oppressors) is a result.
I know that gun ownership isn't for everyone. People focus on the lives lost to gun violence, but can't account for all of the violence that doesn't happen because the bad guys have to guess which good people carry. Responsible gun owners can protect those who choose not to be -- in the vast majority of cases, with nary a gun in sight, nor a shot being fired.
The illusion is that we can live in a world without risk. The illusion is that government can provide security without abusing the power it would need to provide it. Responsibly equipped, I'd rather take my chances with a few deranged individuals, than I would with a renegade regime that distorts or disregards its constitution in order to provide the illusion of protection and the reality of oppression.