In many ways, 2014 had been an exhausting year filled with events that illuminate the triumph of the human spirit as well as tragedies that shake us to our core. It is unfortunate that the impact of the tragedies often outweigh the buoying nature of the triumphs. Regardless, near-instantaneous global digital connectivity, the 24 hour news cycle and an unprecedented access to information send us an endless stream of facts, figures and opinions on just about every major event. Even when supposedly objective data is presented, extreme elements of both sides obscure any kernel of truth by manipulating, exaggerating or committing hyperbole to promote their particular point of view. This can leave the average American citizen to ask two essential questions: “What should I believe and what can I do about it?”
In terms of triumph, tragedy and longevity, few social and legal issues can match the Gun Rights debate. Rather than analyzing the merits of both sides of this long-standing issue, I will focus on the foundation of the Gun Rights debate, place it in the current context of personal security, and conclude with some thoughts on personal actions available to you.
The Gun Rights Debate
The Gun Rights debate traces its roots back to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. The original Constitution focused on establishing and delineating the powers of our three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial), but made no specific mention of gun rights. Over two hundred years of hindsight make the ratification process seem clean and straight-forward. However, Federalist and Anti-Federalist factions hotly debated each and every issue within the document. As a result, the Constitution was founded on extraordinary compromise, but many issues were left unresolved. In order to get the Constitution ratified in 1788, the framers agreed that the document was a foundational “start” to the process, but would continue debates on contentious issues that would be amended at a later date. In 1791, the first 10 amendments were encapsulated into the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment, stating: “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,” was included in the Bill of Rights.
Since then, any number of events from the Civil War through the Cold War and some of our current tragedies stress our understanding of those 27 words. In general, there are three different interpretations of the Second Amendment. The first interpretation focuses on the initial clause and believes that it only authorizes each state the right to maintain a militia. The second interpretation expands the viewpoint of the first by purporting that only individuals who are part of a state militia may keep and bear arms. The third interpretation strongly focuses in the words as written, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Today, these differing interpretations are adopted by the political parties that align themselves with their belief in which entity is most responsible for ensuring and providing public security. One extreme believes in a very powerful government that provides collective security supported by citizens who willingly submit individual rights to have their security provided for them. The other extreme believes in a limited government that provides only the level of security required to protect from external attack while ensuring the rule of law supported by those who believe in strong individual rights and the right to provide for one’s own security.
So, where do you fall within this continuum?
If there was ever a metric that was hard to define, it is “American Popular Opinion.” From our country’s foundation through the current day, there have been extreme views and thousands of intermediate variations on “what is right or what is the collective good?” In the last 30 years, we have seen public or popular opinion in regard to gun rights vacillate and even spike in relation to major events. While lawful use of firearms in self-defense tends to be woefully under-reported, unlawful use of firearms tends to be grossly over-reported. In the wake of major events, parties on both extremes entrench in their respective ideological positions while the flames are fanned by an equally ideological media. The truth, of course, can be found obscured somewhere in-between. Read More >>
About Author – Howard Hall
Howard Hall “Range Master at Aegis Academy“ – has served for nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps. He has served as a Platoon Commander, Company Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, Regimental Operations Officer, and Battalion Commander. He has multiple combat tours to include serving as a military transition team member in Fallujah. He is an NRA Certified handgun instructor and holds numerous Marine Corps training credentials. An active competitor in action pistol (United States Practical Shooting Association), long range rifle (NRA F-Class), and shotgun (Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association), Howard has earned numerous accolades and medaled during DoD competitions with the 1911 platform in bulls-eye shooting.