Second Amendment

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Kudos to C. R. McDermott, who wrote of the proliferation of guns in our country and in our county. On the day of the Newtown tragedy, the sticker on the front page of the Chronicle said “Gun Show.” Like McDermott, I observed the signs along U.S. 19 advertising the gun show.

That evening, commentator Mark Shields said his time in the Marines instilled in him the knowledge that the purpose of a gun was to kill, nothing else.

Shields’ remark resonated with me. When I was young, I was drawn to the shooting galleries at carnivals, probably impressed by the eye/hand coordination factor. But, like with Shields, the Army gave me a different perspective. Qualifying on a carbine or a rifle might have been just more eye/hand coordination, but there was something sinister about the 45. The weapon was unwieldy and unpleasant and the cardboard target left nothing to the imagination. Like McDermott, I don’t own a gun, haven’t touched one since the Army 60 years ago; my children have never touched a weapon.

The NRA is complaining the president wants to take away our Second Amendment rights. It’s not so. No mortal would ever dare oppose the Second Amendment, which enjoys a special magic. It states, “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.” 

Our founding fathers are considered prescient. The structure of the government they crafted still works a couple of centuries later. But the Second Amendment was about muskets. The Founding Fathers weren’t sufficiently prescient to envision assault weapons. A well regulated militia is of course a good idea. Switzerland gave young men guns but the government kept the ammunition, to be used only during training. The NRA holds us to the words of the Constitution but maybe we can play that game. 

The Constitution states the people have the right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn’t spell out the right to ammunition. It may be an approach we could take without trampling on the sacred Second Amendment.

Mary B. Gregory