Saturday, October 10

"Half The Power Of God"

I do not recall where or when I heard or read the statement that a police officer's firearm affords that officer immediate access to "half the power of God." If memory serves, I believe that truism appeared in an editorial emphasizing the requirement that all members of the law enforcement community to be ever vigilant to guard against being too quick to employ lethal force when engaged in perceived dangerous confrontations.  The realization of that truth is just as valid for any individual who is in possession of a firearm.

As previously revealed, I do not own a firearm nor do I have any desire to possess one. So, my plea for a rational, reasoned approach to better regulating the proliferation of firearms,  where it is roughly estimated that there are 3.5 million guns in existence in this country, may indeed be met with wary skepticism if not outright anger. Let it be stated from the outset that I am a staunch supporter and defender of the Second Amendment's constitution guarantee that every law-abiding citizen has the right to own a firearm, and I would join in any protest against any entity that would usurp that right.   

In order to begin to even have a rational discussion on how best to reasonably regulate the continued possession of firearms going forward, two important concessions must be validated as as irrefutable. Number One: For those groups of individuals and organizations who believe that any step toward the regulation of firearms is yet another slippery slope step toward the confiscation of all firearms, the assurance that that eventuality shall not and cannot occur is in the rock solid Second Amendment itself. As recently as June of 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by either state or local governments. A review of case law on this particular issue is replete with Supreme Court decisions that are in affirmed support of this fundamental right, even going so far as to define the original wording of "a well-regulated militia" as being unquestionably "we the people."  Secondly: For those groups of individuals and government ideologues who would view a Utopian American society as being free of any privately owned firearms, I refer these entities back to the pronouncements above. Both sides of this prolonged Constitutional debate must come to an agreed understanding and affirmation that a citizens right to bear arms is "off the table" for further debate. The elimination of this "right" could only occur "if" the American people elected to adopt such a change to the law through the arduous process of an amended change to the Constitution itself. The probability of that occurring is remote at best.

Yet we have tragic instances of the misuse of firearms that assault our sensibilities that are repeatedly occurring almost on a weekly if not daily basis. Nine killed while participating in a church prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. Another nine killed in Roseburg, Oregon's Umpqua Community College. Wikipedia has a specific list of all the shootings that have occurred in this country's schools beginning in 1850 until this current year. The number of wounded and fatalities reported in this list is beyond mind-boggling. Children killing children! And we are going to continue to waste time and more precious lives fruitlessly debating whether or not someone or somebody is going to take away of Constitutional right to own a personal firearm. How tragic! How stupid!

It is now time that the American citizens awake from their perceived silence on the tragic consequences of our country's poorly regulated gun laws and demand that there be consequential teeth placed in the existing laws to better assure that gun ownership is by and for law-abiding citizens. We can begin this laudable quest by agreeing that the firearm application questionnaire that is typically employed by local municipalities and state governments is a joke. The inquires made are as worthless and uninformative as the age-old stupid question, "Do you still beat your wife?  Yes or No? Typical  "Yes" or "No" questions asked on the application form: "Are you a fugitive from justice?"  "Are you under indictment for, or have waved indictment for, or have been bound over to the circuit court for, or have been convicted in this state or elsewhere for having committed a felony, or any crime of violence, or the illegal sale of any drug?" "Have you ever been diagnosed as having a significant behavioral, emotional or mental disorder? "Yes" or "No." If the answer to any of these questions and the five other equally inane questions is "Yes," there is space at the bottom of the form where one can explain in detail why the person filling out the questionnaire should be allowed within 100 miles of a firearm!  Does anyone possessing an ounce of common sense beyond that of a single cell organism actually believe that a person with a prior criminal felony record or a traceable documented trail of mental illness is going to be forthright in answering any of these questions in the affirmative?

We can begin here. Agree to make background checks uniform in their inquiries across all and within each and every state and municipality. Increase the waiting period before an individual can take actual possession of a firearm until such time as the background check and verification of information submitted can be validated. Make it a provision that no private owner may legally sell a firearm to another person without employing a third party, such a a broker, to assure that the individual wishing to purchase that firearm meets the uniform application process to own that firearm. None of these easily implemented suggestions poses a genuine threat to a citizens right to possess a legally obtained firearm. What it does take is the willpower of the American people to implement same. 

All responsible gun owners and we fellow citizens who value the worth of all lives need to exercise that willpower and better assure that responsible gun ownership is a right that must be accompanied with sane, regulated safeguard provisions. Will initially instituted safeguards prevent the continuing tragic and needless loss of life committed by mentally defective individuals or the criminal element in our society bent on disregarding the basic tenants of a civil society? Sadly no. There are common sense laws that govern rational behavior every day that are continuing to be willfully violated. People still operate their motor vehicles without being in possession of a valid drivers licence or proper insurance, who speed, who fail to wear their seat belts, who drive intoxicated.  But there are rational and well-reasoned laws governing these violations that punish those who are apprehended for failing to comply and adhere to these statutes. Needless tragedies shall still occur, but we are not suggesting or lobbying to ban the operation of all vehicles in order to put an ultimate stop to these events. That's irrational. 

The time to stop the bickering is long past due. Our government is apparently incapable of coming to grips with this nation-wide epidemic. It continues to be a stalemated failure of willpower to at least raise the question of what can we do together to protect the legitimate right of gun ownership while realistically limiting the opportunities for gun possession by those who are recognized as being incapable of properly owning and safeguarding the right to possess a firearm. Indeed, the possession of a firearm must be understood to encompass the awesome acknowledgement and accompanying responsibility that "half the power of God" is but a fingertip away.       



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