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Both Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and retiring independent Senator Joe Lieberman called yesterday for a renewal of the assault weapons ban. The ban was allowed to expire in 2004 during the Bush presidency, when Republicans controlled Congress. While I suppose legislation once again outlawing military-style weaponry has a chance of passing....I wouldn't bet the farm on it. I just don't see the Republican House going along....hope I'm wrong.
It is telling, however, that out of the 31 pro-gun senators in the Senate, not one would accept an invitation from the Sunday morning teevee "news" shows to appear and defend their convictions after Newtown, Connecticut.
Banning 30-bullet clips, and the semi-automatic killing machines which use those clips, seems like the least a civilized, modern society can do. But chances of doing so are slim.
Today, let's look at what I see as the weakest argument by the gun enthusiast crowd. Legal access to heavy, military-style weaponry is inherently guaranteed under the 2nd amendment....so that citizen patriots can defend liberty from the threats of a tyrannical government. Here's the 2nd amendment....
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.
That's a very awkward way of saying......The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be taken away.....because....a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free state.
Some gun enthusiasts interpret that simple sentence as proof that all citizens have the right to own military-grade, mass-murder weapons.....for the purpose of.....defending themselves from a tyrannical government. On the other hand, many others understand that sentence as equating "a well regulated Militia" with what is today's state National Guards.
But let's take the gun enthusiasts understanding as relevant for sake of discussion. Let's say that the Founders meant for the early settler-citizens of the U.S. to have the freedom to, if necessary, own and bear arms against the federal U.S. government.....a theory often heard in the fever-swamps of authentic gun-nut land. How would that work in 2012 America?
Is there anyone.....and I mean anyone....who believes that, push come to shove, citizen movements, patriot movements, modern militia movements could outgun the U.S. military? Really? Given where we are as a nation in 2012, wouldn't citizens have to also own helicopter gunships, rocket launchers, drones and anti-missile missiles...for starters....to attempt to compete against a tyrannical government whose military power is unrivaled in the entire world?
Would gun enthusiasts have average American citizens buying and owning tanks, bombers, and nuclear devices,.....and organizing and training a standing army, navy and air force with which these patriots could wage war against the most lethal military machine the world has ever known? And if the answer is...no.....then, why the military-grade semi-automatic guns?
And yet.....isn't that what the "don't tread on me" flag-wavers and the "tree of liberty must be refreshed...blah, blah" crowd believes? Isn't that the reason why questionably-sane patriots strapped loaded guns to their persons and proceeded to make a spectacle of themselves at Tea Party political events? And wasn't the statement that they were trying to make, 'if the federal government treads on our liberty (at the time, Obamacare), we will patriotically wage war against that U.S. government, even if we have to shed our own patriotic blood to refresh the tree of liberty?'
If not.....what explains it?
A secondary defense of Americans owning military weaponry that I read over the weekend is that owning and firing those powerful weapons is....."fun." Harmless fun. No doubt it is fun. Blasting stuff gives a person a thrill.....and a sense of power. However, re-read the 2nd amendment above and explain to me how the Framers were actually guaranteeing citizens the right to have fun...with sophisticated, military-grade weapons. Not trying to be facetious.....but I just don't see it.
And, isn't it possible to have fun blasting stuff up......like, at a shooting range or equivalent, without actually owning the military weapon yourself?
Finally for today......the defense of owning military weapons argument which is the laziest. No matter what we do as a society, we are told, we can't keep these kinds of weapons out of the hands of people intent on getting them. That is the capitulation argument...which is not an argument at all, but instead, a surrender.....an open rejection that an enlightened and modern society can solve it's most pressing problems.
Tomorrow: the dishonest 2008 ruling by the Supremes in Columbia v. Heller