Tight Lines: Reconsidering the Second Amendment
by Don Moyer
Jun 05, 2014 | 4047 views | 14 14 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few years ago, I went to a candidate coffee klatch at the home of a friend. There was a candidate running for Congress, and I wanted to know his views on the Second Amendment and gun control. I mentioned that I enjoy hunting, target shooting and gun collecting. I was caught by surprise when he answered, “The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, target shooting or gun collecting. It gives citizens the right (and ability) to fight government tyranny.”

I was somewhat taken aback at the answer, but upon reflection decided he was right on target. The American colonies were able to resist what they perceived as British tyranny, because they had guns and thus the ability to fight to protect their freedom. Plinking tin cans, hunting to put food on the table and collecting historical firearms are all well and good, but they are really just a footnote in the grand scheme of things. The real issue regarding the citizens’ God-given right to enjoy their liberty is that guns simply give people the ability to protect their rights.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, of the Japanese imperial navy, is believed by some to have observed: “You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” During the darkest days of World War II, the Nazis controlled almost all of central Europe with the exception of Switzerland, which has mandatory gun ownership. Nearly every household in Switzerland has a trained and armed reservist in residence. No one has invaded Switzerland in 500 years. Apparently, an armed citizenry is a pretty good deterrent to invasion.

There aren’t many people left alive who remember firsthand the atrocities of the Nazis, since most of our World War II vets are gone now. My friend Herman was a boy living in Holland when the Nazis came to his home looking for his father, who was a leader in the Dutch underground. He remembers the brutality of the Nazis. He remembers that the first thing they confiscated from peaceful citizens was their guns. The Dutch lived under Nazi persecution until they were liberated by Allied troops.

Are there abuses of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms? Absolutely, just as there are abuses of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Six innocent people died in Santa Barbara, and almost a thousand innocent people died at Jonestown. Perhaps those kinds of tragedies are part of the price we pay for freedom.

Until next time, tight lines.

• Don Moyer, author and outdoors columnist for the Tracy Press, can be reached at don.moyer@gmail.com.

 
Comments
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ertion
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June 09, 2014
About 370 kids die from firearms per year, most of this from the drug trade/drug wars. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/01/31/theblaze-fact-checks-abc-did-diane-sawyer-use-misleading-stats-in-2020-report-on-children-and-guns/). There were about 98 deaths due to accident shooting. The deaths from accidents have been decreasing every year since 2000.

In comparison, 602 children die from drowning, 262 die in fires and 923 die in car accidents. Should we stop living in houses or driving in cars?

So what we have here is *not* an epidemic, nor a price to be paid for freedom.

Let's put this in perspective: last year there were 3 million reports filed for child abuse, involving 6 million children. If you want to focus on a real problem, I'd suggest starting with this one. (http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics)
aahziman
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June 08, 2014
The real tragedy is that people accept the death of children as the price of freedom. Unbelievable!
victor_jm
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June 08, 2014
The death of children isn't the price of freedom. Furthermore, freedom is a potential. Children become adults; typically, adults kill. We could mitigate the amount of tragedy in this country, but this would be about more than the curtailing of gun ownership in this country.

Isn't television programming and all the ridiculous sci-fi movies people clamor to about the juvenile fabrication of eternal enemies? Aren't you bored by the formula? Aren't you tired of the next installment? Or do you just love the ultimate theme of good versus evil?

Mimetic living is the order of the day.

Isn't man's general lack of imagination the real tragedy?
ertion
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June 07, 2014
victor, when you read a work written/sourced three thousand years ago, can you understand it? (Apologies in advance if I'm assuming too much from public school education.) When you look at a Greek statue carved in marble 2500 years ago (say, the veneus de milo) do you perceive any beauty in it? The answers to all such questions is undoubtedly "yes". At the British Museum in London, I've seen figures carved out of wood by cave people 13,000 years ago that are quite touching, figures of a deer running from wolves, or of a man embracing his woman.

So what is it that enables us to understand these other humans from such a distant past? Is it not our common and ENDURING nature?

In more recent history, when the Soviet empire provided its people jobs but paid them nothing, is it really a shock for us to discover that under these conditions, nobody worked, that the economy just basically stopped moving? Nope, because we have some reason to understand what it is that motivates or demotivates humans--us. We have experience of our common, enduring, nature, human nature.

The existence of aberrancies and evil does not change this fact.
victor_jm
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June 07, 2014
Ertion,

Thank you for your thoughts on human nature. You have told me it is "common and enduring."

That I might comprehend a text dating thousands of years doesn't mean I understand human nature.

I suppose the U.S. is a bit different from the other empire, because we actually pay people for doing nothing.

I suppose the artifacts you cited are manifestations of our human nature and its potentialities, but you didn't define human nature.

I do recognize you are a caring individual.
ertion
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June 08, 2014
victor, if you want a definition, here's an old one that still works: Human nature is what makes a human being what he/she is; a rational animal capable of thought and voluntary decisions. This is a starting point.

Our contemporary society tends to see such assertions of a static nature as too limiting, as humans become increasingly adept in manipulating their world, their society, and quite frankly, each other. They have become aware of the different expressions of humanity in the different cultures. These types of perceptions lead them to claim that human nature is changeable over time and place.

Yet is it human nature that is changing, or simply our understanding of it changing and developing? The Ancient astronomers thought there was a geocentric universe; only fairly recently have we progressed to the insight of the earth orbiting the sun. Has the reality changed, or just our perception of it? Clearly it is the latter.

You do have an understanding of human nature, from the inside out. So you can get some understanding simply by reflecting.
ertion
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June 06, 2014
BHirsh is close, but we need to be precise in the wording. The bill of rights in the US Constitution are about rights called "unalienable" rights in the Declaration of Independence because they flow from our human nature and thus cannot be sold, waivered away, or diminished in any way without destroying or diminishing our very selves.

Tell me, Ornery, just how many times *is* God or Creator mentioned in the US Constitution? My count is ZERO.

victor_jm
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June 06, 2014
Human nature?

Few us understand what this is, but many us will fight to the death for the right to sedate oneself.

Is the desire to sedate oneself human nature?

What is this ambiguous human nature Ertion refers to? Does it include receiving therapy from a dog?

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 15, 2014
ertion

Little confused on yer logic here. Ya state, "The bill of rights in the US Constitution are about rights called "unalienable" rights in the Declaration of Independence because they flow from our human nature and thus cannot be sold, waivered away, or diminished in any way without destroying or diminishing our very selves" - ertion

It seems ya correctly link th Declaration of Independence ta th Constitution. An, fer th other readers, th Declaration states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Declaration of Independence."

An while yer correct th Constitution don't mention God, th Declaration of Independence recognizes th existence of a supreme being, mankind's "Creator," which virtually all religious philosophies would recognize as God, regardless of what the language of th local dialect might call that God.

In as much as ya state th "unalienable" rights are directly linked ta our Constitution, whether or not th body of th Constitution contains th word God is really immaterial. cont
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 15, 2014
ertion cont.

It seems yer contradictin yerself.

In my thankin, th "rights" reserved fer th people in th 2nd Amendment of our Constitution stand equal in importance ta th unalienable rights in th Declaration of Independence; as it was those unalienable rights, apparently given by a Creator/

God, that allowed th creation, an rights, delineated in our Constitution.

A question was asked where those rights came from, I answered, "God" an given th contents of th Declaration of Independence, which ya even state is th source of "rights" delineated in our Constitution, I stand on my answer.

Now, can we get back ta th topic of th article an stop th human argument regarding th existence or non-existence of a supreme creator/deity regardless of what people may call that deity, an away frum yer continuously negative comments made ta every comment I make?
ertion
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June 16, 2014
Ormley, you claimed that "most folks" don't have a Christian perspective of man's innate dignity and rights, and you certainly did not clearly state that "those rights came from..God" Instead, you claimed

"Th per-existin right yer talkin about is one frum a God perspective an taday that don't sit well with most". Yet, our country is 75% Christian (http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/03/09/us.religion.less.christian/), is it not? So most folks DO have the perspective about the innate source, if not divine source of human rights.

It's funny that you want to leave this issue behind when it's the only issue really at stake here. If man's liberty flows not from his own created nature, but instead flows from what is granted by the legal authorities, or by majority vote, there is nothing standing in the way of a tyranny of the majority, nothing to protect us from simple brute force.

The second amendment simply asserts that we have the right to protect ourselves with effective means. It is no more or less important than the rest of our core civil liberties.
StevedR
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June 06, 2014
Don, your article hit the nail on the head. Our forefather were not interest in being gun collector or target shooting. They had just won a war from the British who tried to take their firearms away so we could not defend or rebel again their tyranny. I would hope the people we have elected would not turn on us and try to force their wills on us, but as long as we have the second amendment it would be difficult.
BHirsh
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June 06, 2014
Your friend is incorrect.

Neither the Second Amendment nor any other enumeration in the Bill of Rights "gives" the people any rights.

They RECOGNIZE preexisting rights.

The Supreme Court has taken judicial notice of this fact:

"The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose'. This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence." - U.S. v. Cruikshank, 1875
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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June 06, 2014
Respectfully, it seems ta me both of ya are somewhat correct. Th per-existin right yer talkin about is one frum a God perspective an taday that don't sit well with most. I'd include evolution but then, at one point in time, th right wouldn't be pre-existin as someone would have had ta dream it up ta tell someone else they had th right or didn't have th right.

More importantly, in my mind, is th comment th court made is "bearing arms for a lawful purpose."

Most cartainly no one, except perhaps some wrong thanin person, should have any problem with a person who is bearin arms fer a lawful purpose."

It's those who do it fer an unlawful purpose we need ta worry about. What th judge writin th opinion on this did was ta focus th attention an intention of th second amendment ta basically say ya can own an bear any arm ya want as long as yer doin it fer a lawful purpose an not an unlawful one.

Myself, never had a problem with people havin guns as long as they used those guns lawfully.

Lastly, knowin th Don's father, an most of his family over th years, I am a little surprised he had apparently forgotten th intent of th 2nd Amendment as his father frequently mentioned it. :)


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