Gun Control: The Path to 60 Votes

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By Jackie Devereaux

I watched national TV news this weekend, something I usually avoid because it’s just too full of violence, death, destruction and mayhem. I cringed when the news (repeatedly) reported the tragedy of five women who were burned alive in a limousine on the San Mateo Bridge, a bridge I frequently transited during my seven years living in the bay area.

If that wasn’t enough negativity, then I listened to right wing Talk Show Host Glenn Beck, who was the keynote speaker at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston, TX last week.

I worked in radio for many years and know first-hand about the exaggerated rhetoric coming out of the mouths of talk show hosts who clamor for higher ratings. I’m sick and tired of these big-mouthed spokesmen full of self-grandiosity expounding half-truths as so-called preservers of the Second Amendment.

stylized_weapons_large_a-webBeck and the NRA tout the glory of gun ownership using their high-power rhetoric like .50 caliber ammunition against the overwhelming majority of American citizens who want gun control. I’m sick and tired of the NRA calling for their members to take a “stand and fight back” any form of gun control because it threatens their precious Second Amendment.

I’m weary of the NRA and any opponent to gun control blasting the Second Amendment in my face like a shotgun trying to shut me up.  I researched the Second Amendment on the Internet at several websites including UCLA Law, the Second Amendment Foundation, Findlaw.com, Wikipedia and the NRA’s own website. And what I discovered may surprise some opponents of gun control.

First, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the U.S. Bill of Rights that protects the right to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Second, the right to bear arms predates the Bill of Rights; the Second Amendment was based partially on the right to bear arms in English common-law, and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. This right was described as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.

Third, in United States v. Cruikshank, (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that “the right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the federal government.”

Fourth, in United States v. Miller, (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the amendment “protects arms that had a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” This ruling has been widely described as ambiguous, and has ignited a debate on whether the amendment protected an individual’s right, or a collective militia right.

Fifth, in District of Columbia v. Heller, (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right” and that it “protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home,” but also stated that “the right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” They also clarified that many longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession are consistent with the Second Amendment.

Our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment when the weapons of their day were single shot muskets, not AK-47 automatic rifles that kill people in mass instantly. AK-47s are not “traditional or reasonable” guns. They are not used for target practicing or to hunt game. Our founding fathers didn’t write the Second Amendment with AK-47s or .50 caliber bullets in mind. That was 1791, this is 2013 and things have changed dramatically in terms of weapon technology.

Why does President Barack Obama or any world leader need a limousine that can withstand .50 caliber bullets and IEDs? The president’s limousine is called “The Beast” and the Secret Service keeps its design top secret. I bet the families of the five women burned to death on the San Mateo Bridge wish they had the president’s limo. They’d be going to a wedding instead of five funerals.

Since the December 2012 shootings of 20 first-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., supporters of gun control just won’t let the issue fade. Parents of slain children have invited senators into their homes to see the empty chair where their child once sat hoping to spark emotion in their hearts. However, these hardened hearts could not be softened. Even Vice President Joe Biden said the path to gun control must wait until summer because the Senate is debating the immigration issue, which (most likely) will go down in flames like gun control legislation did because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

How do we get to the path of 60 votes? By voting the politicians against gun control out of office one vote at a time.

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