Today I am going to climb up on my soapbox. (Nowadays my soapbox isn’t that big or that high as I have a hard enough time even getting my body to climb into the bleachers at YME to watch a basketball game.)
I am going to share some of my thoughts on a controversial topic: gun control. I am not writing this column to try to convince readers to change their opinions, or to add clarity to this difficult issue. I am writing this column because the Constitution of the United States, in the Bill of Rights, gives me the right to write it. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Simply put I have the right of freedom of speech.
Another right the Bill of Rights gives me is the right to bear arms. The second 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.”
For over 221 years, Americans have had the right to keep and bear arms. That right has been with us as our ancestors pushed their hegemonic frontier further and further west until the census of 1890 declared that there was no longer a frontier in the continental United States.
What has become known as the ‘wild west’ dominated that movement through the mid 19th century. From the time when Jesse James and his gang rode into Northfield, through the Earp Brothers bringing law and order to Tombstone in 1879, Americans have held firm to that right.
Some say the lawlessness of the wild west is one reason so many Americans hold tight to the right to bear arms. Certainly the good folks of Northfield believed that on September 7, 1870 when they took aim from the rooftops of the main street and put a dent in the James gang.
Even Granite Falls had its share of shootings. I can remember reading an article in an old newspaper where an argument during a poker game was settled with a gun and the ‘gambler’ died from his wounds.
But truth be told, the history experts argue that the violent image of the cattle towns in film and fiction is largely myth.
Page 2 of 2 - Nonetheless, as Americans we are still bound to our right to bear arms. In fact, my Christmas present this year was a 9mm Springfield. It’s a small handgun that carries a big punch. I had no quixotic perception of why I wanted to own a handgun. I will admit that I am growing more and more concerned over the increase in crime and the increase in the gap between the middle class and the poor. I will admit that I am more frustrated with laws being passed that restrict the rights given to us by our founding fathers; and feel subjugated by how many more of our legislators are politicians rather than statesman. I understand that anyone who wishes to exercise the right to bear arms must also be prepared to kill. Accepting that is a monstrous obligation.
The statistics are showing that more and more people are buying guns. At the gun range the other day, of the ten lanes, 6 of the lanes had women shooting. The ages ranged from early 20s to around 70. It is not unusual to see men shopping in the Phoenix area with a handgun holstered at their side. The other day I saw a young father, pushing his cart with two pre-school boys walking along beside him, asking daddy for this and that. Daddy had a 9mm strapped to his belt.
Do I believe we live in a society that is so dangerous that we need to all start wearing and carrying guns. NO.
Do I believe that we live in a society that has given us a right to bear arms if we so choose to. YES.
I believe that guns don’t kill people; people kill people.
I believe that when the laws take all the guns away from law abiding citizens; only criminals will have guns.
O.K. I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I just wonder how many more of my rights will be challenged before I die?