In response to the 10/31/2014 post, “How Many Children Must Die,” a LYS district leader shares the following:
First, I should start by saying I too don’t like the fact that children die in our schools and streets. I also agree that a discussion is needed. However, I think setting emotion aside and embracing facts would be helpful.
For one, you state that the Second Amendment was written in a time when firearm ownership was very expensive and rare. I can’t attest to the expense, but the idea that firearm ownership was rare has been sunk. Most people with the thought that gun ownership was rare rely on the book by Michael Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. The book received national praise and even received a Bancroft award from Columbia University. Liberals ran to the book as fast as they could. Unfortunately Bancroft either did not know how to use statistics or he lied, as has been demonstrated by several real researchers. In particular you may start with the William and Mary Law Review, Volume 43, Issue 5, Article 2, 2002, starting on page 1,777. Indeed the William and Mary Law Review concluded that firearm ownership was very common, and in some areas more common than Bible ownership.
Second, although you are correct that the Bill of Rights was not part of the original Constitution, that is sort of missing the point. The original Constitution would have NEVER been ratified without a prior agreement to come back and consider the Bill of Rights, according the National Archives articles on the Bill of Rights. Indeed Madison did want to include them in the original text, but the decision was made to leave them as add-ons. As such the Bill of Rights is much more than a collection of mere amendments. The Bill of Rights was part and parcel with the original US Constitution.
Last, it should be pointed out that the Second Amendment has been interpreted many times as an individual right to possess firearms for lawful purposes, including self defense, without having to serve in a militia. This was most recently upheld (again) in the Heller vs. D.C. case in 2007, which lead to all 50 states and D.C. now having some type of concealed carry process. The Heller ruling is filled with a lot of common sense.
I don’t see amending the Constitution as a viable option to solve the problem of violence in our schools and streets, because frankly, as divided as the country is, an amendment is not going to happen. That leaves us with having to explore other options.
Unlike the NRA, I am not opposed to universal background checks, or closing the gun show “loophole” so to speak. But I also acknowledge that in every mass shooting incident, the firearms have been legally obtained by someone. I also acknowledge that criminals don’t care if they legally obtain firearms or not. For that matter, in some cases our own government gives guns to criminals (see Operation Fast and Furious). So, where as I don’t have a problem with universal background checks, I don’t think they will stop shootings.
I suppose we could explore magazine sizes. Some states limit semi autos to 10 rounds. Fine, I guess. But a magazine can be changed in 3 seconds, faster with practice. So instead of 10 30 round magazines I carry 30 10 round magazines, meaning in a really large mass shooting I have to change magazines 29 times instead of 9. I have slowed the shooter down by about 1 minute. I don’t get a warm feeling about slowing the bastard down by 1 minute.
I suppose my point is it is hard to see how, other than an outright ban and confiscation (which isn’t going to happen), a gun law solution will fix the shooting problem.
I am far more concerned about two other issues: a lack of an effective mental health care system and the how insensitive our society (especially young children) are to violence. In particular I would point out that in almost every mass shooting to date the shooter has been on some type of psychotropic medication. We don’t have enough information about the Washington shooter yet, but we will see. I have to believe that a better approach to mental health may help.
I am also concerned about what media is doing to our children. Video games have progressed beyond simple first person shooters like Wolfenstein of the 1990’s. Even the modern non-online playing of Call of Duty is simple compared to some games. Modern games are role-playing games, much like Dungeon and Dragons of years ago. The child develops a character, names the character, picks the attributes of the character, and then lives out fantasies online with real people. I have seen an increasing number of children transferring their online fantasies to the real world. Remember the Slenderman stabbings? Scary stuff, and no gun was involved.
Finally, why not have funding for law enforcement on every campus? We pay $100 for law enforcement to show up to three volleyball games in one evening while leaving our schools vulnerable during the day 24-7. What does that say about our priorities?
In short, I too think the issue is sad and needs discussion. I also know that there will be no substantial changes to firearms law, at least at the national level. That doesn’t mean we have to sit back and do nothing, but we should focus our discussion and efforts in directions that have a hope of making a difference.
SC Response Thank you for your reasoned, logical extension of this discussion.
One, on gun ownership at the time of the writing of the Constitution: In relative terms the cost of a firearm was more expensive than it is today, with cost in line with two months salary of a skilled craftsman. And those guns were unreliable and difficult to keep in working order. My point was more along the lines that a securing a working reliable gun then, was more difficult than it is today.
Two, I don’t think an Amendment to the Constitution is the answer. The point was to illustrate that the Constitution can and does adapt (slowly) to the realities of the current age. Which is part of the genius of the Founders.
It bothers me that in many states it is easier to get a gun than to vote. So like you, I believe that background checks and closing the gun show loophole are reasonable and prudent measures. Will this stop the mass shootings? No. Will it decrease the frequency of mass shootings? Perhaps.
I am not advocating for either for a ban of guns or a confiscation of guns (I am a hunter and gun owner). If anything I’m for mandatory education and training. It doesn’t bother me when a lifelong hunter, soldier (current or former), or peace office (current or former) has a gun. It scares the crap out of me knowing that “Johnny Rambo” who hasn’t shot more than 5 rounds in his entire life is packing.
And yes, the lack of anything resembling adequate mental health care being available in this country is a travesty (our lack of tax dollars at work). Which means that any attempt to reduce gun violence that does not also address this issue has little chance of success.
Finally, I don’t think there is a short-term solution. But long term, reasonable people are going to have to take over the debate on this issue. The solution will occupy the center. We are witnessing first hand the failure of the extremes at both ends of the spectrum.
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