LTTE: Letter To The Editor. Before blogs, there were LTTE for opinionated people to find an audience in the local paper. Need I say that Charlie has been a role model here. Living in a small community with a weekly county newspaper, I have the privilege of actually reading the paper cover to cover every week, and getting just about any LTTE printed. I will share these as them come along. The most recent was published February 16, 2011, so it falls within the time for starting the Hermit’s Door blog.
We love a Western, or police drama: vigilante justice lets the good guys shoot the bad guys, when due process of law and the courts are too slow to catch and convict them. Then some disgruntled guy (usually) walks into an office, school, or political gathering, loaded and shooting. We are appalled.
Dave Heishman suggested that the solution is for citizens to have the skills to use concealed weapons in such a wild west fashion (while riding a horse with the reins in our mouth, maybe?). Neil Giles points out that this usually leads to the wrong person getting the bullet. I agree with both.
Let me return to the Bill of Rights, the famous 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, which sparks this debate: ‘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’. One sentence! The purpose, which the Founding Fathers, in 1791, proposed for possessing weapons was to protect the freedom of the state through membership in an organized militia. I see nothing about hunting, gun collecting, keeping grandpappy’s German pistol from WWII, or personal security listed or limited in this sentence (for full disclosure, I do have my grandfather’s WWI dress sword). The traditional Supreme Court interpretation of the 2nd Amendment did not include concealed weapons for personal safety until only a few years ago in a case about Washington, D. C. (not even a state) trying to limit handgun ownership. Those activist judges, threw out 200 years of past Constitutional interpretation with one judgement.
I shall propose a compromise, based on Original Intent, which includes the ideas that any Right comes with Responsibility. Weapons, including firearms, should be permitted, but ownership can be limited to those who demonstrate that they have the training to use the weapons (yes, Dave) as well as discern their targets accurately (yet, Neil).
The best way to assure proper training is military service, National Guard membership, employment by a law enforcement agency (including private security firms which require regular training and assessment of skills). That would satisfy the ‘well regulated militia’ concept. These folks could receive permits to carry concealed weapons. A next level of training would include private citizens who participate in weapons use safety training, regular practice and check of their skills. This is not shooting a couple of cans off a stump. Organizations from the NRA to local gun clubs could develop programs with nationally accepted rules to assure that their members demonstrate proficiency. These people could also then be easily called to duty in periods of local or national emergency. The rest of the folks are demonstrating that they do not want to take the responsibility and therefore forfeit the right. I might allow them to keep grandpappy’s hand gun or rifle as long as they can not purchase ammunition to use it.
We can work out the details in committee. But, next we must address another issue the Founding Fathers warned about and our state founders carried over into West Virginia’s Constitution: Article 3.12: ‘Standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty.’
When will we give peace a chance?”
Moorefield Examiner, February 16, 2011