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The Preamble of the Constitution establishes the framework for governmental responsibility to “the people.”

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Amendment II 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.”

In our national “discussion” over firearms, we are neglecting the very basis for the inclusion of “arms” in the Constitution when adopted in 1787. Single-shot black powder rifles were standard “arms” for hunting and military, with one bullet discharged per minute. Today, we argue over who has the “right” to publicly carry automatic weapons that have already killed dozens of people in a single minute in multiple mass-shootings.

A citizen owning automatic weapons does not “establish justice” but rather enables future shootings and denies victims their right to life. Police extensively train with and carry firearms to “insure domestic tranquility,” employing them under designated conditions. The world’s best military (U.S.) trains with firearms in order to “provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” In 1787, the Second Amendment specified “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …” provided that citizens could respond and defend our country when, in its infancy, it was vulnerable to attack from different European forces.

Today, the NRA is neither “A well regulated militia” nor is it “necessary to the security of a free State.” The NRA has previously provided and could continue their valuable service of teaching adolescents and adults how to safely handle firearms. The NRA can educate young adults that firearms are not play toys, should only be used on a human perpetrator when necessary to protect other human life, and that despite the attractiveness of automatic weapons they are neither safe, necessary, nor prescribed in protecting one’s constitutional rights. Flaunting 20 acres of weapons at the NRA’s Dallas national convention and parading politicians babbling accolades that “it’s not the guns, it’s the people” while ironically refusing to consider background checks on people buying weapons not only ignores the Constitution but also further enposes current and future generations to continued gun violence.

During adolescence, children learn appreciation and respect for others. Today, however, children commonly watch TV/videos where the actors use firearms to achieve their purpose, and the firearm is the only viable answer because compromise neither engages attention nor sells advertisements. As parents and adults, we are responsible for changing how firearms are viewed and used in our culture. Beyond safe use of firearms, we also need to demand that media producers reduce the portrayal of violence as a cultural norm and that ratings on all media clearly designate appropriate age levels for viewing based upon solid psychological data.

Finally, we need to demand our elected representatives prohibit the sale and/or exchange of automatic and military-type firearms and designate use of such as a felony. Had the writers of the Constitution been able to envision today’s firearms technology, there is no doubt that personal use of automatic weapons and accessories would have been banned. The Declaration of Independence’s “right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” precedes the Constitution, therefore ensuring those rights a-priori. One pistol and one rifle provides for one’s need to defend their home. If a hunter, then that individual needs to choose which game animals they will hunt and select an appropriate, single-shot rifle for that game, returning sport to hunting.

If our elected representatives choose to not follow the directives of the Constitution and/or they accept campaign money or favors from the NRA or associates, then we need to vote them out of office. Both the House and Senate must understand that gun manufacturers and stores selling assault weapons do not support nor “promote the general welfare” and therefore automatic weapons and accessories need to be banned and strict universal background checks instituted now.

Gerald Bacon is a US Army Master Sergeant Marksmanship Instructor. Bryan Bates is a former NRA Hunter Safety Instructor

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