PETERSEN & KASHUV: Freedom, Liberty, and 2A
Recently, retired Justice Stevens wrote an op-ed calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Moved by demonstrations in Washington and other major cities, he went on to say "But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment."
We appreciate his honesty. It confirms what we've always suspected: there's not just a lack of understanding of the Constitution among the left, there's a complete disdain - especially as it pertains to our Second Amendment rights.
For far too long the left has assaulted us with emotional arguments for gun control. Ever since the Parkland shooting, it has been an endless lambasting of those who defend the Second Amendment. “You're either with us or against us," is an extreme statement, one that tries to paint anyone who wants to protect their family as supporting the murder of innocent students.
Those on all sides of the gun issue want to ensure the safety of every citizen, they just disagree on the means.
There is not a single case of law-abiding, responsible gun owners executing a mass shooting. Allowing citizens to defend themselves with their own firearms is far more effective than a sweeping gun ban. The arguments for banning “assault weapons,” bump stocks and other weaponry may come from a place of concern, but also display an ignorance of both history and the Constitution. Even Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose country instituted a full ban on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and mandated a massive firearm buy-back program, wouldn't recommend their laws to the United States. “You have an amendment to your Constitution which deals with gun ownership. You have a very, very different history [with guns],” he said.
Guns have historically protected Americans from white supremacists and government tyranny. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke repeatedly of growing up in Birmingham, Alabama in the late '50s and early '60s. "There was no way that Bull Connor and the Birmingham police were going to protect you." Her father and his friends would fire their guns in the air when 'night riders' with the KKK would come through the neighborhood, terrorizing the residents. "I'm sure if Bull Connor had known where those guns were, he would have rounded them up, so I don't favor some things like gun registration," said Rice.
We cannot rely entirely on the government to protect us. The failure of law enforcement at nearly every level in the Parkland shooting has proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt. While many officers do their jobs well, they cannot be the only line of defense. According to The Economist, average police response time can be up to 11 minutes, and in a situation where seconds can be vital, waiting that long may not be an option. This shows it is extremely important for us as Americans to maintain the ability to defend ourselves.
At its core, conservatism is the idea of personal responsibility and limited government, both of which require us to solve our own problems. Take for instance an incident in Chicago in 2015 when an Uber driver who was a registered gun owner and also had a concealed carry license stopped a mass shooting before it took place. The 47-year-old man spotted someone firing a pistol into a crowd of people on a sidewalk, exited his vehicle, and wounded the shooter before the situation escalated. Heroic acts like this occur frequently, yet rarely make the evening news.
Even worse is when the government itself is the one you have to protect yourself against. In 1890, the Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms "for their own safety and protection." The slaughter began after the majority had peacefully turned in their weapons. 297 Sioux Indians were dead or dying, over two-thirds of which were women and children. In a less fatal situation, when Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans in 2005, residents found themselves stranded and waiting for rescue, often dealing with looters. It was in the midst of this crisis that the mayor of the city began calling for gun confiscation, claiming only that police and national guard should carry firearms. Although this did not lead to widespread gun confiscation, it allows us to see the incompetence of government and just how quickly they can make an arbitrary decision to disarm citizenry.
Far too many times unjust laws are passed under the guise of safety or protection. Now, the Second Amendment is on the table, all in the name of "our safety."
It's time to stop placating those intent on limiting our rights. Let's get the conversation to where people are talking not about limiting gun rights, but expanding them. The fact is, our Constitution comes much closer to requiring gun ownership than to restricting it. A step in the right direction would be passing other common sense gun legislation like Concealed Carry Reciprocity to protect those gun owners travelling between states, and the Hearing Protection Act.
As Americans, we must remember why the Founding Fathers wrote that the right of the people to keep and bear arms must not be infringed upon. They understood the good that an armed citizenry brings and the individual freedom that can be lost without it. It is a value that has stood the test of time and we cannot allow misguided emotions to strip away rights for us and future generations. That is why we have chosen to stand on the right side of history, side by side with those who created our constitution, and not move an inch in protecting the Second Amendment.