Sitting amongst about nine men, one began to ask why we as a society need guns designed to inflict maximum damage with large magazines/clips. As soon as the question was asked, virtually everyone at the table jumped in with a variety of angles. All of which have certainly become "talking points" for gun rights advocates and the National Rifle Association ("N.R.A."). You know, the argument that "criminals will get their hands on guns even if illegal and will attack the innocent knowing they have no such weapons" to "Gun Free Zones attract criminals because they know no one is equipped with a gun to defend against them" to (and I love this one), "Gangs will invade your homes and threaten your family with a gun and might even take your wife if you cannot stop them." I had heard the first couple before, but "taking your wife" was a new one! Really?
Because I promised I would not make this a long posting, I will not address these points and believe me, I certainly could. But when asked my opinion, I made myself perfectly clear. I told them all point blank (pun intended) that I have NO problem with Americans possessing guns for self-defense, to protect their property or to legitimately hunt or sport shoot. But that I am uncomfortable with arguments that guns are the only thing available to stop crime and should be openly possessed. I made it clear also that I do not believe Americans need to possess Assault Weapons and that most criminals obtain firearms by stealing them from innocent law abiding citizens. What reaction did I get at this point? A firestorm of rhetoric and talking points that the Founding Fathers meant for Americans to have sophisticated weaponry to "overthrow our government when it oppresses us." At this point, I wimped out by simply stating those that believe this to be true should show me where in the Constitution such a right is enumerated, expressly written or implied. When they began to "hem and haw" I left the room. I am frankly, getting very tired of folks "shooting from the hip" by telling me what is or is not in the Constitution.
Should I have educated them on the Constitution? Perhaps, but it was obvious that none of these "friends" have read my book, have any interest in reading my book and ultimately, do not respect me enough to appreciate that I make a living understanding and teaching the US Constitution and US history, or the fact I have been studying the Constitution for decades. How do I know this? They chased me down into the other room into which I escaped to further the discussion/argument. When pressed (knowing this would surely end the "chase") I asked them what was the significance of Shay's Rebellion or the Whiskey Rebellion. They could tell me NOTHING about these critical events in our history! When will folks learn that taking a position in an argument requires them to have at least some working knowledge about the topics they are arguing about? I kept myself calm, but shook my head at them. I write and teach US History and the Constitution, yet folks that acquire bits and pieces of information from ideologically based for-profit media continue to claim superior knowledge! Will Americans ever learn? Perhaps this is my burden to carry in this World?
So I give this challenge to you all. Where in the US Constitution does it give the right to American Citizens to accumulate military weapons in order to overthrow the US Government? Please let me know, because in over thirty years of looking, I still have not found it. Yet, there is express language in the Constitution prohibiting citizens from rebelling or becoming a part of any insurrection against the US Government! If the Framers wanted citizens to have the right to overthrow the government, why would they write the following express terms banning rebellion and insurrection into the Constitution and allow Congress to enact punishment for Treason? The Constitution actually says (with emphasis added):
Article I, Section 8. The Congress shall have Power to; To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for
calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel
Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such
Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States; Section 9. The Privilege
of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion
the public Safety may require it. Article III, Section 3. Treason against the United States,
shall consist only in levying War against them (the United States), or in adhering to their
Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the
Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress
shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall
work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
So my wish for this holiday season is simple! May each and every American READ the Constitution before spreading ignorant talking points promulgated by gun rights advocates cynically produced to instill fear. When all else fails, the Constitution shall prevail!