It’s time to educate ourselves concerning Constitutional rights
I would like to address Mr. Mike Beebe’s recent “Viewpoints” leading article regarding firearms and the Second Amendment. In it he made some remarks that display the current attitude of many Americans who are making judgments based mostly on emotions and very little research and understanding of the Second Amendment.
Mr. Beebe stated that “...collectively our culture repeatedly has failed to handle military weapons responsibly...” This is totally false. Nearly all firearms that gun owners have possessed over the past 200-plus years are direct descendants of military weapons, such as the bolt-action rifle from the 1906 Springfield rifle and the Model 1911 pistol, which is still produced for the public. And although they didn’t have the appearance of today’s military arms, semi-automatic rifles have been around for nearly 100 years.
When you consider the huge numbers of these firearms that are possessed by the citizenry as compared to the number misused, it is safe to say that collectively our culture has been more responsible than Mr. Beebe speculates.
Contrary to Mr. Beebe’s degradation of the Second Amendment, this right and freedom is just as important as the right to life and safety. In 1982 Senator Orrin Hatch chaired a subcommittee on the Constitution. After extensive research it documented the right to keep and bear arms as a major individual right of every American citizen for the protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms. When introducing this amendment to Congress in 1789, James Madison also emphasized its importance to prevent a tyrannical government from power that would remove all other freedoms and rights that the Constitution provides. This armed citizenry is what the Second Amendment defines as a militia. When the framers of the Constitution referred to the equivalent of our National Guard, they uniformly used the term “select militia.”
Mr. Beebe’s facts were grossly exaggerated by stating that 30,000 Americans a year are killed by firearms. The truth from FBI data is that in 2011, the latest year for which full date is available, 8,583 people were killed by firearms. That is down from 10,225 in 2006.
Finally Mr. Beebe asserts that the NRA is too extreme, too militant, and too fear based. Unfortunately, he fails to understand that the NRA is standing its ground to help all Americans protect their Second Amendment rights. If you want to see militance and extremism, try looking at the misrepresentation of our uneducated and liberal-minded government and media. That is what we should fear.
Frank Koeller lives in Peterborough