A Well Regulated Militia
"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."
So stated the founding fathers of our country. They had seen governments take freedom away from their people. Therefore, they based this new countrys system of government on the idea that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Noting that the purpose of government is to secure those rights, and that a government can become abusive in its power, our founding fathers saw fit to amend the constitution so that a militia may be kept to preserve those freedoms. Unfortunately we do not have a regulated militia; nevermind a well regulated one.
The issue of gun control is a hot topic right now, with the new shooting deaths of fourteen students and one teacher in a small town school. Many of the arguments against gun control revolve around the second amendment to the US Constitution, stated, in its entirety, above. Unfortunately some who quote it fail to quote it completely. They tend to leave out the first phrase, "A well regulated Militia," which is the subject of the amendment. By leaving out this phrase, the subject instead becomes, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." This practice has lead to a good deal of misinformation about the desires of those who wrote the second amendment.
Our forefathers knew well the dangers of any government, and made many provisions in order to make this one stand for freedom. Having three branches of power all checking up on each other is a very good way of making sure that no one abuses power they may hold. But the slim possibility that the government might abuse its power encouraged them to amend the Constitution. This amendment indicates that
While this Militia refers partly to the armed forces that are already in place to protect America from foreign attack, it is also necessary when the government becomes tyrannical in its power. The established military is under the command of the government and thus cannot effectively serve the second purpose of a Militia.
Therefore, a system must be in place to organize a militia when needed. In order to organize a Militia, one has to know the resources at hand, in terms of people and weaponry. Identifying these resources quickly is a crucial step in this process.
This can be fulfilled by many of the proposals of gun control advocates. If we were to treat owning, selling and licensing guns the way we own, sell and license cars, and make those records public, one could easily and quickly identify those in any given area who can aid in a Militia. The government would handle this program, but by making the records public it would be difficult for the government to abuse it.
It would not be necessary to institute more background checks in the system, those outlined by the Brady Bill are sufficient. Each weapon would be registered and listed with its owner. When sold, it could only be sold to those who have a valid license, which indicates that they have passed the check instituted by the Brady Bill, but weapon-handling training would not be needed to obtain a license. Lastly, any sale would need to be noted by the government. These three measures would not infringe on anybodys right to keep and bear arms, though it would make it more difficult to use one illegally.
There would be several positive effects of introducing such a program. Those who are criminals would have a more difficult time getting weapons. In the first two years of the Brady Bill, over twelve thousand people who committed felonies were apprehended as a result of the background check when they attempted to purchase a gun. Those who collect weapons, some of which represent a sizeable investment, would have the peace of mind knowing that they have a greater chance of being returned if stolen. Many gun crimes committed in the US are committed with stolen or illegally procured guns. Gun stores and individual collectors are often targets of burglary; the black market for guns is a highly profitable one. Tracking guns committed in crimes would also be easier, faster, and provide more concrete evidence.
Such a program could not fully prevent tragedies like the Littleton shooting, but it would help. By licensing those who hold guns we not only increase public safety but also enable ourselves to protect our families and possessions against criminals and possible governmental abuses.