When the patriarchs of our young nation debated certain inalienable rights, one leading figure eloquently stated the following: “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” Those words were spoken by our first president, George Washington.
Those who question the original intent of the Second Amendment and want to place an undue burden on citizens’ rights to bear arms forget that criminals will always have the ability to find weapons that can injure and kill. The Second Amendment has been part of our constitutional fabric for centuries and remains in place to protect the innocent – not the criminals. There is no question that criminals prefer victims who are defenseless and unarmed. Our system of laws should not detrimentally impact the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
The Second Amendment is not a political football; it is a cornerstone of our Bill of Rights. I firmly believe in the ability of our citizens to protect their lives and their property, and the right to bear arms is a critical component of this intrinsic value that we all cherish. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to imagine a scenario when local, state and federal law enforcement may be insufficient to protect against imminent danger, and when citizens must have the ability to defend themselves - with firearms if they so choose. This happened all too recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with rampant lawlessness in New Orleans. The government response to this catastrophic event was woefully inadequate, but the loss of human life and property would have been much worse had our citizens not been able to defend themselves and their valuable possessions from looters, thieves and hardened desperate criminals.
Regulation of guns should be measured, minimal and aimed at criminals, not law-abiding citizens. I oppose mandatory registration of guns for law-abiding citizens, but support increased penalties for use of guns in the commission of a crime, particularly for repeat offenders. I voted in favor of concealed carry laws with appropriate qualifications and comprehensive training, and I would oppose laws that give unfettered discretion to the government to refuse concealed carry permits.
The Second Amendment belongs to us as individual citizens. It does not belong to a city or a state, and I believe that lawsuits against gun manufacturers by political bodies are frivolous and unwarranted. My long-held beliefs, and those of others who believe in the right to bear arms, have been justified by the recent ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia. That decision upheld a Second Amendment challenge to the District of Columbia’s ban on functional firearms, and the court’s ruling supports our Founding Fathers’ intent in crafting the Second Amendment.
Finally, we must always remember that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. While I support the rights of hunters, it is misleading for politicians to frame their Second Amendment arguments by voicing support for those who hunt game. The Second Amendment has a much broader purpose to it, and I will recognize that its original intent was to protect against tyranny and to ensure the rights of our citizens to safeguard their own lives and property.