On Friday, December 14, 2012, the small town of Newtown, Connecticut was the epicenter of a horrible, unspeakable act ending in the deaths of 28 people. Shortly after 9 AM, a 20 year old entered Sandy Point Elementary school and proceeded to shoot 26 individuals, including 20 children.
The names of the victims and their date of birth are as follows:
- Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
- Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
- Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
- Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
- Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
- Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
- Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
- Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
- Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
- Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
- Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
- Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
- James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
- Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
- Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
- Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
- Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
- Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
- Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
- Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
- Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
- Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
- Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
- Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
- Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
- Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female
The shooter himself was found dead in the school.
Also killed was the 52 year old mother of the shooter who was found in her home.
We never want to forget the victims in this incident. That is why we listed them first. You will see these first couple of paragraphs every day we write about this because we never want to forget the victims.
Of all the circumstances and factors surrounding the incidents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the one that has caused the most debate has been the issue of gun control.
At Newtown, the shooter was armed with what was reported to have been an AR-15 Bushmaster rifle and several hand guns. Additionally, what appears to have been a shotgun was found in the shooter’s car.
Immediately cries came from people screaming we had to institute “gun control.” Some went further demanding a ban on guns. On the other side of the debate, there are people very committed to the idea of self-defense and the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
The United States was founded on the idea that the people – not the government – possessed certain rights. It is not the duty of the government or monarchy to impart those rights to people, but rather it is the responsibility of the government to protect those rights.
The Declaration of Independence states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
An individual has the right to protect their life. We have the right to self defense.
It is in the context of these rights that the Second Amendment was written.
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.
In other words, the Second Amendment provides for the right of individuals to exercise their right of self defense against all threats up to and including a tyrannical government.
Some have argued that the Second Amendment is strictly for the formation of militias. That would belie the writings of the Founding Fathers who saw the use of weapons as something much broader. The phrase “a well regulated militia” is one reason, but it is not the only reason for bearing arms. For example, in addition to the use of a gun for defense, the Founding Fathers used guns to hunt. If one wants to say citizens owning guns was predicated on the singular idea of forming a militia, then the government could outlaw people from hunting causing them to starve.
The case District of Columbia v. Heller explains more why the right to bear arms is not limited to those in a “militia:”
1. Operative Clause.
a. “Right of the People.” The first salient feature of the operative clause is that it codifies a “right of the people.” The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights use the phrase “right of the people” two other times, in the First Amendment’s Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment’s Search-and-Seizure Clause. The Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”). All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not “collective” rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body.[Footnote 5]
Three provisions of the Constitution refer to “the people” in a context other than “rights”—the famous preamble (“We the people”), §2 of Article I (providing that “the people” will choose members of the House), and the Tenth Amendment (providing that those powers not given the Federal Government remain with “the States” or “the people”). Those provisions arguably refer to “the people” acting collectively—but they deal with the exercise or reservation of powers, not rights. Nowhere else in the Constitution does a “right” attributed to “the people” refer to anything other than an individual right.[Footnote 6]
What is more, in all six other provisions of the Constitution that mention “the people,” the term unambiguously refers to all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset. As we said in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U. S. 259, 265 (1990):
“ ‘[T]he people’ seems to have been a term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution… . [Its uses] sugges[t] that ‘the people’ protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community.”
This contrasts markedly with the phrase “the militia” in the prefatory clause. As we will describe below, the “militia” in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”—those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the people.”
We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.
With the right to bear arms established as an individual right, the question then becomes “is that right an ‘absolute?’”
To which we respond, “no right is an absolute.”
For example, we have discussed previously on this blog about “time, place and manner” restrictions on speech. Those restrictions are based on the speech interfering with the rights of others.
The same thing should be true with a gun. If owning a gun infringes on the rights of others, most people agree that restrictions should be placed on guns. For example, the Firearms Act of 1934 bans machine guns and assault weapons. We have banned certain types of bullets.
Yet in the wake of the Newtown shooting, there have been renewed called for more restrictions and bans on weapons. The problem is that the proposed bans do not do anything to protect the rights of anyone and in fact, deprive the right of owners to defend themselves. Some say banning guns will make everyone safer.
That doesn’t appear to be the case:
Despite that, people will still say “we want a discussion.” We have not seen a “reasonable” discussion on weapons from those looking to ban weapons anywhere. What we have seen is a lecture to people who believe in the Second Amendment and the rights of people to defend themselves. It is almost as if some think we don’t have the right to self defense or the right to bear arms.
We have heard people say, “let’s compromise” or “let’s have reasonable controls on guns.” All of that sounds great, but is that really what they want?
Our friend William Teach over at the Pirate’s Cove shows how people actually want to impose restrictions and bans on the Second Amendment, but when it comes to a “right” never codified in the Constitution, that “right” is an “absolute.”
Most liberals want gun control. Mostly on people other than themselves, but, I’ll ignore that for the moment. So, I’ll tell you what, in the spirit of compromise, here’s what I’ll offer:
* Reinstatement of the original 1994 Assault Weapons Ban
* Ban the manufacture, sale, and transfer of magazines higher than 1o rounds starting the date the legislation passes
* Require background checks on all weapons purchased at gun shows before the purchaser takes ownership of the weapon
* Ban private ownership of all automatic weapons
* A national 7 day waiting period for the purchase of all handguns (with a provision that in certain cases, such as someone who’s life is being threatened can get an immediate check and permit from law enforcement. Provided they pass the check)
In return I want
* Ban all late term abortions (except in real cases where the mother’s life is in imminent danger, and the doctor must legally sign off on a specific, and legally binding, form)
* Require parental notification for abortions for all women under 18
* Require parental consent for all under 16 (which could be over-ruled by a judge)
* Disallow all federal funding for abortion, including at Planned Parenthood. Want one? Pay for it yourself
* Require a 48 waiting period from the time a woman requests an abortion
I think that’s eminently fair, a nice compromise. What do you think?
Oh, and I’ll tell you what: I’ll also give you:
background checks on all gun purchases, including rifles and shotguns (if someone has had a background check on a purchase within the previous 2 years, they would not need to get another permit*)
And you give me
Corporal punishment and “hard labor” for all convicted violent felons
Do we have a deal?
Teach cross-posted his proposal another site and those who demand “a conversation” and “reasonable restrictions” went bat-crazy. How dare he try to limit the right of a woman to have an abortion. So while they were screaming about “a discussion” and “reasonable restrictions,” for a right named in the Bill of Rights, they were unwilling to have a “discussion” or “reasonable restrictions” placed on what they see as a “right.”
The hypocrisy was clear to all who looked.
Game. Set. Match to the North Carolina Pirate.
We want to have a reasonable and rational discussion on this issue.
In looking for one, we have been called a “gun nut,” a “moron,” a “Nazi,” (we still aren’t sure how that applies), and even some terms we don’t allow here on Raised on Hoecakes. (We do have standards, you know.)
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some definitions, some of the arguments for and against banning guns, and what really matters when discussing this issue.