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A View From the Deck: It's not just a RIGHT, it's a RESPONSIBILITY

In this installment of 'A View From the Deck', local author J. Wiley Dumas takes a look at the 2nd Amendment and the responsibility involved.

I normally do my utmost to avoid blogging on subjects that smack of politics in any way, shape, or form, but a recent incident has forced me to speak out on a subject that tends to stir up controversy anytime it’s mentioned.

I’m talking about 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.’

First off, I am a gun owner. I am a LEGAL gun owner.  I enjoy shooting, and, not meaning to brag, I’m pretty good at it.

My reasons for gun ownership are many, but primarily it boils down to the fact that I have the RIGHT, as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.

The majority of LEGAL gun owners in the United States are law-abiding citizens who would never dream of using their firearms to commit a crime. They own guns for various reasons: hunting, protection of home and family, or like myself, they
just enjoy shooting. The 2nd Amendment guarantees them that Right.

The majority of LEGAL gun owners in the United States are also RESPONSIBLE gun owners. They practice safe handling of their firearms, they secure them properly when not in use, thus keeping them out of the hands of children or others not qualified or instructed in the safe handling of firearms.

The majority of LEGAL gun owners in the United States exercise their Right in a responsible manner.

But, as in anything, there are always those that ruin it for the rest of us.

The ‘Anti-Gun’ Lobby in this country loves to jump on any incident where firearms are used to commit a crime. When this occurs, they shout “They used a gun! Take all the guns away!”

If someone uses a car to commit a crime, nobody shouts “They used a car! Take all the cars away!” Or “They used a pair of scissors! Take all the scissors away!”

No, it’s always “Take all the guns away!” FROM EVERYONE, not just the individual responsible for the crime.

Why?

Well, some people in this country don’t like guns. That’s a simple fact, and that is most certainly THEIR Right. Guns to some represent power and authority. Some people are (understandably) afraid of guns. It doesn’t matter. Those are their
beliefs.

But the simple truth of the matter boils down to one thing:

It wasn’t always so easy to kill a man.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of The United States was ratified on December, 15th, 1791, and I’m not going to dissect it and hash over the implied meaning in the manner that some do. Everyone has a difference of opinion on exactly what it means. But, all told, it states that we have that Right, and it shall NOT be infringed.

But think about this for one moment. 1791. During that time, the most common firearm in use was a .68 caliber flintlock smoothbore musket. To load, aim, and fire this weapon, one had to do the following:

Cock the hammer to the ‘half cock’ position.

Tear open a paper cartridge with their teeth, or,

Pour a charge of powder down the barrel.

Seat the ball in the muzzle.

Withdraw the ramrod and seat the ball down on the powder in the breech.

Replace the ramrod.

Pour a measure of powder into the pan.

Bring the hammer to the ‘full cock’ position.

Aim.

Fire.

This procedure normally took anywhere from 15 to 20 seconds. In battle, that is an ETERNITY.


One had a few moments to THINK about what was going to happen during that procedure.

When the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791, there were no repeating rifles, no automatics, no assault rifles. Soldiers faced one another in ranks, at distances no more than 100 yards. They could see the faces of their enemy. It was personal. It
was INTIMATE. They had ONE SHOT to fire, then, provided they werre still standing, repeat the loading procedure.

In 1791, Drone Strikes were not carried out in impersonal manners by Nintendo whizzes sitting safe in a command bunker, a far distance away from the field of battle.

In 1791, it was understood that the RIGHT of ‘Keeping and Bearing Arms’ entailed GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. In this day and age, because firearms have become more advanced, and loading, in some cases, is simply a matter of inserting a clip
into the magazine well and releasing the slide, that responsibility has become
even GREATER.

The taking of another person’s life is NOT a natural act, nor should it EVER be
trivialized. Ask ANY combat veteran.

I don’t know if video games such as ‘Call to Duty’ and others like it have made the taking of another’s life seem ‘trivial’, or if this has numbed people to that fact. I only know that as gun owners, we have not only the RIGHT, but we have a public responsibility.

'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.

A firearm, just as it was in 1791, is a tool. That tool can put meat on the table. That tool can be used to defend your home and family. That tool can be used in many SAFE, responsible ways. But like ANY tool, an axe, a hammer, or a chainsaw, it also has the potential of being misused.

A firearm, ANY firearm, used in the wrong manner, is DANGEROUS. But so is a car, or a pair of scissors. Cars are easy to operate as well. So are scissors.

As gun owners, we should not only exercise our Right to ‘keep and bear Arms’, but also, even more importantly, we must ALWAYS demonstrate the RESPONSIBILITY associated with that Right.

For if we fail in that, the ‘Anti-Gun’ Lobby will be justified.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael September 27, 2012 at 03:36 PM
You make a good argument but let’s not get lulled into agreement in lieu of the facts. We agree that the 2nd Amendment was created at a time when a band of militia could actually fight back. Are you declaring a state militia today can take on the Connecticut or U.S Defense Department? Have you seen the U.S. Military in action? The 2nd Amendment states “ 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" mentions a "well regulated" militia. Where is the (well-regulated) regulations? When I join a club, fraternity, community militia, or such, I actively participate in self-regulation making sure we are living to the spirit of the power imbued to us. Where is your regulation that has allowed the United States to have more guns per citizen than any nation, more deaths per citizen by guns than any nation, torn up cities and minority groups and risks to the fabric of this nation? You talk about responsibility but when will you take responsibility and stand up for smaller magazines, waiting periods that are directly connected to a national registry of felons and other logical controls allowing you to live up to the words and spirit of a "well regulated" militia? A lot has happened since the 2nd amendment was ratified on December, 15th, 1791. 221 years later I think civic minded people can agree it's time to have a sensible discussion and make time tested changes to these "rights".
Hunter September 27, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I would favor a law restricing magazine capacity. I think only the military should have them. Nobody else needs to.
Think Positive September 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Again, it all boils down to RESPONSIBILITY and the LACK of in some cases.
J. Wiley Dumas September 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
@ Michael: Yes, I HAVE seen the U.S. Military in action. I was a member of it for many years. I stated in the post that I was not trying, nor shall I attempt here, to hash out the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, only that it gives that Right. You may take any view of its meaning in any manner you wish. That is YOUR RIGHT, and I defend it. My POINT, was that those that LEGALLY own firearms in our great nation have a responsibility to the public to insure that said Right is not infringed upon. This includes, but is not limited to, teaching safety and respect toward firearms. This post is not about sharing MY OPINIONS of waiting periods or background checks. I have stated my personal opinion on 'High-Capacity' magazines. This entire post, is strictly MY OPINION, and I am not trying to force my views on any other person. My views, again, are my own, and I do not expect others to be in full agrement. And let me also say that this is a very worthy comment. (NOW you all understand WHY I normally avoid anything that has even the SLIGHTEST hint of politics)
Hunter September 27, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Michael, I share your views completely, but as Mr. Dumas stated, he's not trying to decipher the meaning of the Second Amendment. He's trying to get those guys in the NRA and others like them to wise up and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. I think that the Second Amendment was written for people like Mr. Dumas, and that there are lots of people ON BOTH SIDES that could learn a lot from listening to what people like him have to say.
Hunter September 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM
That's right. And there is certainly a lack of responsibility among many of the gun-owners in the country. But Mr. Dumas isn't one of those. He gets it. I've never heard anyone that was 'pro-gun' tell others to start demonstrating responsibility. The fact that he states 'I myself have no need for them', regarding large-capacity magazines demonstrates responsibility on his part.
Watson September 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Well said. I take my right to keep and bear arms seriously. I had and have no problem with background checks. My children enjoy the right to keep and bear arms. At this time it’s primarily my oldest (13). He currently shoots skeet and sometimes trap competitively. I am really proud of him! He is part of a great team and they stress safety, responsibility and throw in that it can be fun too. He has traveled out of state to shoot and needed to abide by a different state’s laws on weapon transport. A little research to make sure we were legal and off we went. I am also proud of my other children who have expressed interest in learning to shoot safely and responsibly.
Robin Hood September 27, 2012 at 04:37 PM
The problem or cause is usually ignored. Look at the news in Ct lately, everyday there seems to be an equal amount of deaths by guns and stabbing. Logically the old adage "people kill people" is true. The last few psychopaths had a distrubing trend. The had exhibited mental behavior that their familes, schools and co-workers ignored or passed over. The correct way to adress the situation is to find the core problems and the weaknesses that allowed it to happen, not blame guns. I found it very disturbing in the late 80's and 90's when Republicans around the nation went on a "shut down mental institutions to save money" spree. Rowland closed everything except CVH. The people at Norwich Hospital were just let out, this attributed to several deaths that the media downplayed. The simple fact is we have been on a crusade to increase Corporate Welfare while shutting down services to the people one at a time, to transfer wealth, tax money, to large corporations. This needs to be reversed. Some people need to be locked away from society and you can't do it or even evaluate them when the institutions are all closed. There also needs to be a system where families can turn for help without being stigmatized and schools, especially colleges need enforcement of some type to get these people help if the family turns a blind eye.
meowkats4 September 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
That Republicans and Democrats are run via the Establishment (a group of power brokers who control and manipulate), thus, neither party will serve our nation's best interests nor follow our Constitution. That there are people who believe that the Constitution can be 'interpreted', and 'flexed'. That law students are not schooled on the Constitution, but instead, on Case Law, which is one judge's ruling and interpretation of law. etc.
Justin September 27, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The founding fathers allowed civilians to own the same weapons as the military. Zero exceptions, including cannons. With that being said I do not support a mag. cap. I, being a responsible gun owner should be able to own what I please.
Bill September 27, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Michael, some facts, America does not have the most guns per citizen. In fact, on a per capita basis the US has fewer guns per capita than at almost any time in its history, certainly fewer than during the preindustrial age. Remember, when we were a more agrarian society, every home outside of the urban areas had a firearm, chiefly for hunting. Gun violence, or better stated, violence, is the result of much more than access to guns. I've often pointed out that in Switzerland every able bodied adult male is issued a fully automatic assault weapon that they keep in their homes, yet the incidence of their use in crime is virtually non-existent. Might I point out regarding the history of mass shootings in the US, almost all occurred in "gun free" zones. Regarding restrictions on high capacity magazines, well that depends on your definition of high capacity, one anti gun group defined it as anything over 5 rounds, which of course would ban most revolvers.
Bill September 27, 2012 at 05:41 PM
When I was younger, and less wise, I would have said that reasonable gun restrictions are fine. Now that I'm older, and I think a little wiser, I realize that what is reasonable to one, is not reasonable to another. Plus, when looking at crime statistics, one realizes that the areas with the highest rates of gun crime, also have the most restrictive gun laws. It would seem restrictive gun laws, while not only ineffective, seem to result in an increase in gun violence. And let's face it, we hear all the time about convenience stores or liquor stores where proprietors are robbed and shot, or shot and robbed. When was the last time anyone heard of a gun shop owner being shot?
Kaptainsteve September 27, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Dear Mr Dumas, You said "My reasons for gun ownership are many, but primarily it boils down to the fact that I have the RIGHT, as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment." My problem (respectfully) with this is having to justify your right to do anything to anyone as long as you are not threatening or hurting or forcing anybody to do anything that they don't want. In other words, the question asked to many, "why do you need a gun?" is invalid and implies that if you don't provide an acceptable answer (to the person who asks the question) you don't deserve this god-given inalienable right. It is just the opposite. The right to life, liberty, property is INALIENABLE. It comes with human life and is inseparable from it. You don't have to justify or rationalize doing anything that in no way hurts or harms or threatens other in a free society. It's as if you are guilty unless you prove yourself innocent. You have a gun for the same reason you have food in your refrigerator, a car in your driveway, or a tv set in your living room, because you have the god given inalienable right as a free human to live any way you want to. Let THEM explain why you can't be free, why you don't have the right to self defense, or have no right to own and live they way you want to though you threaten no one. The 2nd Amendment doesn't protect your right to bear arms, it restricts the government from taking your god-given inalienable right to bear arms away for no good or moral reason.
Kaptainsteve September 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I have a problem with background checks. If I am guilty of nothing, then why must I prove myself innocent to own the property I want? I thought we were considered innocent before proven guilty but now we need to pass some kind of test to live free? After we pass this test are we really free? The 2nd Amendment says "shall not be INFRINGED." This means exactly that, a persons right to bear arms shall not be taken away, encroached upon, or chipped away at... and this is exactly what things like background checks and waiting periods and "assault weapons" bans do, chip away at our god given inalienable right to live free.
Hunter September 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Seriously Kaptainsteve? You don't think that a background check can help prevent some loon from getting a gun and then going out a killing some innocent? You are against waiting periods, what some call 'cooling off' time?
jane September 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thanks all for your thoughts. I am permitted but don't own a gun right now. I know the NRA hype, just curious how 'responsible, regular type' gun owners felt about it. For me, hope I never feel the need to have to buy another gun, but then again, I know my 2 big bad barkers won't live forever.
Michael September 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I find most of the arguments using the 2nd amendment to defend unlimited protections of the same firearms that make the U.S. the world leader of gun based crimes and deaths senseless. The second amendment is about militia's protecting against the over reach of tyrannical governments (for which has never been the case in over 200 years of working democracy). And I find the use of faux-patriotism and "God-given" right defenses (like anybody's God would be packing an assault rifle with an extended clip of 100 rounds) to be self righteous blathering that is not part of the solution but the leading edge of the problem. But then again that is my 1st amendment right to say so.
Observor September 30, 2012 at 01:13 PM
"The second amendment is about militia's protecting against the over reach of tyrannical governments (for which has never been the case in over 200 years of working democracy). " I would say tell that to the Branch Davidians, but they were all murdered by the Clinton administration for holding unpopular religious beliefs.
Bill September 30, 2012 at 02:26 PM
In every amendment to the constitution where the phrase "the people" is mentioned, it refers to the people. The people have a right to free speech, not just the media, the people have a right to privacy and be free form illegal search and seizure, not just groups or organizations. The people have freedom of religion, not just churches. Why do some want to reinterpret the the people, as in the people's right to keep and bear arms. Why is that the only instance where "the people" doesn't mean the people. Michael, your argument that the second amendment doesn't protect the right of the people to keep and bear arms, is somewhat diluted by your last sentence that the 1st amendment protects your right to free speech. If your argument against the 2nd amendment holds true, then so can it be applied to the 1st. Maybe you don't have unlimited protection to free speech.
Robin Hood September 30, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Right, and W wouldn't have done the same thing. It was more of a right wing thing, the ATF was told it was going to absorbed into other agencies, to make them seem viable they concocted this attack, they could have sat round Waco and other areas and simply served Koresh his warrant. When they blew it they told Reno and Clinton and the press that they had molesting children to cover it and get support, it worked for a bit. Right wing extremists in the military then slaughtered them, women and children. I was in Mexico at the time and saw live footage you did not see here, I saw a tank punch a hole in the side and shoot fire inside the building, later I saw a tank punch through the kitchen wall and then back up, men got out the back with machine guns and sprayed the people inside, then one man walked up to a window and with a flame thrower lit the back of the building. Later it was Orin Hatch that cleared everyone involved. Can't happen here?
Robin Hood September 30, 2012 at 02:31 PM
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012/09/28/prosecutors-shooting-suspect-threatened-professor/57850760/1?csp=34news That story talks about how the Colorado shooter had serious issues in college, threatened his school psychiatrist and then his school access was taken away, essentially kicked out of college. The signs were there, no one wanted to deal with it.
Jim G. September 30, 2012 at 03:34 PM
None of the other amendments have ambiguous phrases that have to be set aside or interpreted in order to understand the intent. That first clause of the 2nd is a Humpty-Dumpty phrase; it can mean whatever the interpreter wants it to, including "ignore this phrase." The 1st is as direct and unambiguous a passage as it's possible to write. Most of the other eight are that clear, or close to it. It's the blurry, maybe-supporting maybe-contradictory nature of the 2nd's first clause that makes it impossible to agree on an interpretation. Point being, I don't find arguments comparing the 2nd with the other amendments convincing. It's a case of it's own, and a good knuckle-rapping to the authors for saddling us with 220 years of debate over something that they could have stated as clearly as the other rights.
Bill September 30, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Robin, we all saw the footage, the tank was spraying tear gas, not fire into the building. Please.
Think Positive September 30, 2012 at 04:06 PM
The First Amendment is equally as important as all the other amendments. Therefore, no one should be offended by the posting of cartoons and/or photos on this blog, for they are just another form of Freedom of Speech. Right, Mr. Dumas?
R Eleveld September 30, 2012 at 05:27 PM
@Robin Hood, Deinstitutionalisation began in the 1960’s and progressed into the 1980’s. Rowland had nothing to do with it since it occurred before he came to power in the 1990’s. CT is a weak Governor state, and the legislature has been controlled by the Dems for many decades I believe. So your comments are partisan noise not related to the facts. The idea of releasing, for a lack of a better word, the mentally ill and/or handicapped was a human rights issue. Those mentally challenged in many cases ended up on the streets homeless. Was it right? or the best thing to do?, are questions for another discussion. It has been discussed for decades to close down CVH, yet it is the only place I believe we have left in CT to hole those that are innocent because they are insane. Please know your facts before you start throwing out bad information as it does not assist in your arguments. Deinstitutionalization and the Development of Community Based Services for the Mentally Retarded: An Overview of Concepts and Issues. [written in 1975] http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED112606&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=ED112606 CONNECTICUT OPINION; LET DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION REALIZE ITS POTENTIAL [written in 1985] http://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/31/nyregion/connecticut-opinion-let-deinstitutionalization-realize-its-potential.html?pagewanted=all http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinstitutionalisation
Michael September 30, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Bill, in some cases I feel you are right regarding the absolute freedom of speech being controlled as well. And I agree with what you write about. Additionally, it is a slippery slope to start to amend freedom of speech and an easy first step to control gun laws to disallow extended clips, extend waiting periods, open national registries of gun ownership and application and remove assault rifles and body armor from store and internet sales. After all if it illegal to shout "fire" in a movie theater and that is a restriction of rights. You can still have your guns for turkey shoots and Johnny's skeet shooting tournaments and even small caliber handguns for when your neighbor walks across the trailer park and attacks. Let lets agree the rest of the threats can be handled by and protections can come from our local Madison militia other wise know and the Police chief and his fine officers. Who by the way do a great job and leave me sleeping in peace every night. We can't allow someones reckless defense of the 2nd amendment subjugate the real purpose of the Constitution and its amendments and that is to protect and serve a free society. Imagine that a whole article on here with out claiming to be more patriotic or God fearing then anyone else. Go figure?
Bill September 30, 2012 at 09:34 PM
The argument "you can't shout fire" in a crowded theater is true, and a very poor argument in this case. You can't shout fire, of course unless there is a fire, you can't discharge a firearm in your backyard legally, unless in self defense. You need a better argument. Reasonable restrictions, the problem is the definition of reasonable, it's a subjective term. Years ago they trie to ban "Saturday night specials" inexpensive handguns. Seemed reasonable, cheaply made inexpensive handguns that any punk could afford. The problem was the definition is subjective, and also restricts the poor from being able to afford self defense. Btw, police officers are great protectors, if you can survive an attack long enough for them to get on scene with a response time of 4 to 15 minutes, depending what town your in.
Bill September 30, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I don't believe in the restriction of freedom of speech, btw, in the sense that we have already given up too much of that freedom already. Fortunately, for anyone who wants to give up anymore constitutionally protected (protected not granted btw, important distinction) there is a process, amendment. If congressmen feel strongly enough that we shouldn't have these rights, let them be honest about it and move for amendment, stop trying to back door us out of our rights.
Michael October 01, 2012 at 12:49 AM
And there it is Bill. I figured if I chatted with you long enough you would defer to the musical musings of your aluminum foil headgear and in the same response claim your love of the 2nd amendment had something to do with your concern of arming the poor. Also taking a shot at law enforcement response times by claiming a possible attack by an attack dog. I guess that could happen if dogs were training to attack weak arguments. One last time. the argument has nothing to do with legal use of a defensive weapon it has everything to do with people who cloak them selves in this defense to avoid restricting their rights due to the crime and death these guns promote. I am outta this blog thread. I am starting to hear dogs coming up the drive way. I need a bigger hat.
Bill October 01, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Michael, after reading your response I had to go back and read mine again, twice, nope, no mention of any dogs in there, not sure what you were reading. As Rush says, give a liberal enough time and he will show you who he really is. When you can't debate with ideas, you resort to name calling and changing the subject. Fortunately you admitted, well you did from the outset, its all about restricting rights you personally disagree with, constitutional protections be damned. And for that matter, the heck with all the studies that show restrictive gun laws don't work, as with many on the left, its not the results that matter, only the intent. Why are you so intent on disarming your opponents? I understand you prefer a world where an 80 year old woman cant defend herself against a 210 pound home invader, where a 110 college student can't defend herself against a masked rapist, I just don't understand why?

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