I wish people would stop dragging hunters into this gun control argument.
And if I was in the Mafia, or even a halfway active street gang, I’d probably feel the same way about the constant references to criminals, criminals, criminals.
Gun control has nothing to do with hunters or criminals, at least not professional criminals.
Look, the Second Amendment is real short. Here’s all it says:
Article II Right to Keep and Bear Arms
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 it. Does it say anything about hunting? No. Does it say anything about crime? No.
I’m no Sam Ervin but I think I understand a little bit about what the country was like when those words were written. Hunting was what a significant number of people did for a living. I can’t imagine that there was anything going on that would’ve prompted the Congress to amend the brand-new Constitution to protect the rights of hunters. That they could be taken away wouldn’t have even occurred to anyone.
The Bill of Rights — we all learned this in high school if not before — was written to assure people that the new government would not become too powerful. Period.
The term “militia” is not a real current one and contributes to the confusion. Some people will tell you it refers to the military and is simply the United States government assuring the people that it will never take away its own army. Others will tell you that “militia” included any manjack able to grab a rifle, shot pouch and powder horn when the cry of “Indians!” was heard on the frontier.
So it never occurred to those first wary, unprofessional congressmen that the federal government might one day want to take away the guns of hunters — or criminals, for that matter. It did occur to them that the federal government might one day want to do away with all these citizen armies.
The real question isn’t whether an assault rifle is a legitimate hunting arm, but rather it is whether there are any more citizen armies left to rebel against the federal government if it should become a desirable thing to do in the minds of citizens.
It could be that Article II was gutted long ago and nobody noticed.
As for the criminals, first you have to distinguish between professional and amateur criminals. Professional criminals have their own networks of supply which aren’t easily affected by laws. They see us, they’re amused, but they go about their business.
As for the amateurs, that’s us — that’s virtually all of us. Willie Nelson, he of the generous heart is a criminal. You can be a criminal nowadays, and not even know it, we have so many laws.
The people who are pushing gun control know it won’t affect professional criminals, but they can’t effectively counter this argument because the criminals they’re really worried about are us, you and me. Not that we’re going to overthrow the government, but that we’re going to slip our trolley and wipe out a schoolyard of kids, or a restaurant full of Sunday diners, or another post office.
They are afraid of us.
Now there’s no question but that an assault rifle and a high-capacity 9mm pistol are awful things for a deranged person to have to unleash on a schoolyard full of kids.
But an assault rifle could be fairly useful for anyone undertaking rebellion against the federal government.
The real question is, are we, after 205 years, now dead-certain that a) nobody has, to worry about rebelling against the federal government anymore, or b) if we do, there are still folks, the state National Guard or somebody, in a position to do it for us.
There are plenty of crazy people among us that we know. So if the coast is clear, if fair and responsive government is assured us in perpetuity, then we can go right ahead and ban our little hearts out.
This editorial appeared in the May 15, 1994, issue of The Houston Post. Reprinted by permission.