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  • Richard Kerger

The Second Amendment: It's not that complicated.

I am not a legal scholar. Nor do I consider myself the smartest person in any room. But the language of the Second Amendment seems clear to me. It says:

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.

It does not say that you have a right to bear arms to shoot squirrels, targets and certainly not other people. The right to bear arms is to have a “well-regulated Militia.” And that Militia is to ensure the security of the “States”. Contrary to my Second Amendment enthusiasts, it is not there to provide arms to the citizens to oppose the State.

It was not until more than 200 years after the Constitution came into effect that the Supreme Court held that the federal government and states were restricted in their ability to control the acquisition and possession of firearms. Indeed the first such decision was in 2008, a little less than 10 years ago.

I suppose we can allow the Second Amendment advocates to have their sway and keep burying children. The most recent slaughter in Broward County was carried out by a sick young man who did everything but walk around with a sign around his neck saying “I am going to kill people in a school.” And there was an armed guard at the school. It is apparent that even when we are given good information about a potential school shooter, we are unable to stop it.

To be sure there were things that schools can do now that they have seen this attack to make other attacks less likely. Posting guards at the entrances as school begins and lets out would hopefully keep the crazy people from entering into the school. But I have heard people suggest that most of the school shooters were in fact suicidal so the presence of people who could kill them might actually attract them.

But what is to prevent the shooter who does not want to die from standing on a hill 200 yards away and shooting through the windows. The death count might be a lot less in those conditions but the parents of the dead students will have paid an awful price.

The Supreme Court needs to take another look at its precedent. It is not working. It is often said that the Justices of the Supreme Court do read the newspapers, and while that particular source of information might be getting a bit dated, the point is they know what is going on in society and I believe there is a serious ground swell of anti-gun enthusiasm.

I have no interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of responsible people who have an apocalyptic view of the coming age. They may well be right and they should be able to defend themselves and their families. But the politicians are so afraid of the NRA and its progeny that they simply will not buck the gun advocates.

For example, we do not computerize the records of gun owners. Instead we have one person in a building in West Virginia who must manually search records of gun purchases to determine who owns a particular firearm that was used in connection with a killing. The apparent fear is that if we computerize the records, the Government will have the ability to sweep in on all the gun owners and take their weapons, leaving them defenseless. That skips over the fact that in the United States at present there are an estimated 101 guns per 100 citizens. That makes more than 300 million firearms in the United States. How many federal officials will be required to collect those weapons and how long would it take? Having the Government seize these weapons is an irrational and unrealistic fear.

If we can get the proper case before the United States Supreme Court I have some level of confidence that they would be able to come up with a way to craft protection for legitimate gun owners and still provide school children more safety than they have now. It is frankly our only hope because they are the only people in Government who don’t have to stand for election. It is interesting to note that each of the two most recent gun cases in the Supreme Court were 5-4 decisions meaning that the position of the Second Amendment enthusiasts is not exactly crystalline.

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