To quote in full: “An armed society is a polite society. There are no dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men.” Robert Heinlein. Mr. Gardner’s commentary titled “An armed society is far from a polite society” about the 2nd Amendment is so full of misinformation that I must respond with some facts, and my own commentary.
Firearm-related homicides declined 39% and nonfatal firearm crimes declined 69% from 1993 to 2011, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Amongst the top ten killers in the U.S., homicide by firearms is at the bottom of the list. More people die each year from medical errors (195,000) and non-firearm homicides (16,799) than firearm homicides (11,493) Center for Disease Control, FBI. The city of Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws, yet has one of the highest murder rates. Preventing law-abiding people from owning guns clearly has no impact on reducing violent crime. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
Mr. Gardner states that we need justification to own firearms. We have that justification already. In the Declaration of Independence it is called an unalienable Right. An unalienable Right is something that no man gives us, and can only be lost by violating the rights of another person, and then only through the due process of law. The Founding Fathers also called it the Laws of Nature or Nature’s God, and knew that you have a Right to self-defense. The 2nd Amendment was not written on the belief of a regularly trained militia as the sole reason for including it in the Bill of Rights. The military inference of bearing arms does not determine the meaning of a right to bear arms. If all it meant was the right to be a soldier, it would hardly be a cherished right and would never have reached Bill of Rights status. Why would the 2nd Amendment be the only amendment out of the ten comprising the Bill of Rights to be a collective Right, when all the rest are considered individual rights? The 2nd Amendment does not depend on whether militias exist. Militias are only possible because the people are armed and possess the right to be armed.
There is a misconception that acts or bills passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be in agreement. Recently some of our local elected officials have stood up for the Constitution and defended the rights of the citizens. The Tilden Township, and Upper Bern Township Boards of Supervisors recently adopted 2nd Amendment Preservation Resolutions. For those Mayors and Township Supervisors in the Hamburg vicinity who have publicly spoken out against, or not supported the 2nd Amendment Right; they should be scolded and removed from office. They believe we have no need for weapons or a Right to self-defense; that the government will protect us. Historically governments have killed more citizens than any other cause. Do you really want to be helpless and defenseless to governments that have caused the deaths of millions of people?
Owning a firearm distinguishes a free man from a slave. George Washington said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.” Mr. Gardner seems to think we are smarter and can predict the future better than the Founding Fathers. He believes that the Constitution should be changed for light and transient reasons. He thinks we are better and smarter and we far surpass the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. We should not readily brush aside the grand, simple affirmations of the past. All wisdom is not new wisdom. The Constitution is not an empty container whose meaning can be redefined to meet the needs of the time; it is the embodiment of eternal, indisputable truths. The Constitution is not a living document. Those self-evident truths stated in the Declaration of Independence, including our natural rights, are still applicable. They are eternal.
Those who served in or for the nation took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” Some took that oath signing a blank check to the people of the U.S., agreeing to serve willingly and without reservation, to include their very lives if need be to defend and protect us. Sadly, many have paid the ultimate sacrifice in keeping us all safe and free. They picked up a gun and vowed that no harm shall come to this nation and to its people while they stand watch. Mr. Gardner, better people than you and I have paid that price to assure liberty and justice for all, and yes, you need firearms to do that. I know many people who own firearms. Some carried them in combat, and some are in law enforcement. They are some of the most polite and caring people I know. They would give their life to save yours! These are the people you would only allow to be armed for your protection, but not for their own. I find the thought of that repugnant. When the wolf is at your door you’ll be calling for help, and guess who’ll be coming to your rescue? Someone with a gun!
Please don’t suggest that the right to keep and bear arms somehow cancels or reduces your 1st Amendment Right of free speech or of a free press. I will always defend your Right to speak freely, even when I disagree. If I may ask one favor of you, and of all people reading this commentary. This Memorial Day remember those that have fallen to keep you free and safe. Attend one of the local ceremonies and take a few minutes to reflect on what those brave men and women gave you.
Craig Kleinsmith is a resident of Hamburg.