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Second Amendment

Victory Over Death


The tragedy in Aurora, Colorado is almost too recent to write about, the grief of the victim’s’ families too near. The shots fired by James Eagan Holmes in his senseless, psychotic act reverberate around the world; but they fall on deaf ears back home. The gun smoke had not cleared before lawyers and lobbyists began their campaign to vilify the man and exonerate an industry that pays their bills, and pays well. Meanwhile, our legislators, our civic leaders, wring their hands in helplessness and mouth meaningless platitudes to families too insensate and overwhelmed to understand them.

The Colorado legislature will do nothing. Congress will do nothing. It’s an election year after all.

Who will risk the wrath of the NRA, one of the most powerful lobbies in the nation? Who will hand an unscrupulous opponent the gift during a campaign of turning this into a Second Amendment issue? Voters won’t even remember the shooter’s name by November 6th.

This is not a Second Amendment issue. I fully support the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. But every right has its limits. Freedom of speech does not extend to libel, defamation or hate crimes. Freedom of religion does not allow me to declare holy war on unbelievers. The right to bear arms does not mean I can keep field artillery in my backyard.

I served in the US Army where I learned the proper use and respect for firearms. I am also a hunter, a target shooter and a life member of the NRA. I’ve owned guns for more than 20 years and have a Spanish firearms license as well. For all of that, I cannot conceive of any circumstance where I could possibly need a 100-round drum magazine as a civilian. Nor a 30- or even 20- round magazine.

As a hunter, if I can’t bring down my deer with a single shot, I simply won’t shoot. As a marksman, I was trained “one shot, one kill” not “spray and pray”. As a father and husband, I will defend family and hearth from intruders intent on harm. But I honestly don’t expect Attila the Hun to pillage my neighborhood anytime soon, so why would I need 30 rounds of ammo per magazine? I’m not that bad a shot.

When will it end? How many more Columbine’s, Blacksburg’s and Aurora’s? How many more deaths? It will continue until we as a people unite our voices to clamor for change. Until we send a message to those who oppose reasonable regulations on gun ownership that they are in the vanishing minority.


Will any of this stop another massacre? No. Not until we as a society tackle even thornier issues of the levels of violence we tolerate, the amount of disassociation there is from the nuclear family, and better ways to identify and treat mental disorders. None of these can be legislated by government, of course. They will depend on us, as Americans, changing how we think, how we feel and what we teach and expose our kids to.

As a hunter and sport shooter, I’d be willing to tolerate a little more regulation now, rather than complete ban on classes of weapons because the killings go on. As an American, I wish for a peaceful civil society with fewer criminals, fewer jails, and more productive citizens. As a father, I’d like to see my children go to the movies or playgrounds and not worry that they might be shot. As a Christian, I will be praying that more comes out of this tragedy than prayers and platitudes, however sincere. Christ’s sacrifice brought us victory over death. It is my dearest hope that the sacrifice in Aurora may bring us victory over ourselves, and unite us to stop the madness once and for all.

Veronica Moser-Sullivan         6
Alexander J. Boik                   18
Micayla C. Medek                 23
Alexander C. Teves               24
Jessica Ghawi                          24
Jonathan T. Blunk                   26
Matthew R. McQuinn             27
Alex M. Sullivan                     27
John T. Larimer                       27
Jesse E. Childress                    29
Rebecca Ann Wingo              32
Gordon W. Cowdon              52




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2 Responses to “Victory Over Death”

  1. From a friend of mine:

    “Great editorial. I loved the parallel between the second amendment and the first. The first is not unlimited, so why should the second be? People will scream at this from both sides, because there is naturally a continuum for the solution. On one side, folks will argue for further constraints because gun violence can occur with any firearm. True, but I think a different solution is needed there. The root cause is the individuals themselves, but curbing the damage they can inflict by limiting availability to things no reasonable person would need feels like a necessary step.

    The only other argument I can think of is the well-regulated militia. Although our personal liberties seem to be decreasing, we don’t seem to be at immediate risk of turning into Syria. And I suppose that in reality, even a few thousand private citizens with AR-15’s wouldn’t level the field in a case where citizens needed to rebel against the government. Allowing the armaments to make that true to be held in private hands doesn’t seem credible.

    When you discount those arguments, which to me are the most credible, for a less moderate solution, you wind up with a good solution. This does seem to be the right time to have the conversation. The NRA doesn’t favor it because irrational sentiment will oppose their cause. It does create a risk of reactionary swing to a solution that is too restrictive, but delaying the debate separates us from the reality of the need for such a discussion.”

    Posted by fdbetancor | July 30, 2012, 10:59
    • My response:

      Yeah, I tend to think that people today are real keen on pushing the envelope on individual rights, without thinking about how they impact collective rights or individual and collective duties. The Constitution is, after all, a document that begins with “We the people…” not “I and my fellow Americans…” Collective rights are certainly coequal to individual rights and the interplay between the two shows where individual rights have their limits: the old canard about not shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater. It’s a thoroughly studied and well-understood doctrine, which is why it is so frustrating that on this particular issue there is so little recognition of the need for setting those limits.

      The NRA is against it because they are now a political vote machine and, sorry to say, adjunct of the Republican party. When is the last time the NRA endorsed a Democrat, even a conservative blue dog Democrat from the South with good “gun credentials”? The far left is against it because they truly are out for a ban on all firearms ownership in America, which certainly is unconstitutional. Thank God the Supreme Court set straight the whole “militia vs. individual” controversy in D.C. vs. Heller a few years ago. And as for the “middle of the road” American, they’ve been sold on the fact that ANY Federal regulation of anything is inherently wicked and wrong. That makes regulation more difficult, since States are less able to stand up to the power of the NRA and anyway it would result in a patchwork of regulations which could be more easily evaded by precisely the sorts of people intent on wrong-doing.

      As for a well-regulated militia, we have that, and it’s called the National Guard – the direct inheritors of the state militia organizations of Civil War and pre-Civil War times. Anyone who wants to play with heavy weapons should join, we need good people in the services. If you want to wear camo and play tactical games out in the woods with your drinking buddies, that’s cool too. But I don’t think they should have access to 100-round drum mags, full-auto weapons, machine guns, mortars, etc… That’s just nuts. There’s stuff that simply shouldn’t be available to civilians, because there is no legitimate civilian use for it (legitimate in the sense that the same goals could be accomplished with different and less dangerous implements – like 10-round mags for hunting, marksmanship or self-defense vs. 100-round drums!). Let me also focus on the key elements of that phrase, “well-regulated”…it clearly doesn’t mean “self-regulated”. Remember that in the 18th and 19th centuries, much of the militia equipment was kept in State Arsenals, not in the homes of the militia members.

      Not to mention the fact that US militias typically got their asses kicked until regular forces could be trained and deployed. Only then did we start winning our wars…!

      As for the theory that the people should be ready to rise up against the government…well…come on… we have the best and most free government on earth, whatever its myriad of defects. We have far more freedoms and liberties today than at any time in our history – too many perhaps if you go by my first argument. The thought that we should be ready to overthrow our own government is not only (to me) irresponsible, but also somewhat ludicrous. The Michigan Militia is not going to beat the US government no matter how many weapons it has. They’ve been watching too much Red Dawn. The more weapons it has, the more likely it is to be beat: the whole history of insurgency shows that the small, quick, lightly armed force is the one that has the best chance of surviving precisely because they avoid contact with government forces. A bunch of guys with just handguns and access to explosives, blending in to the civilian population, would do far more damage over a longer period of time than platoon-sized elements running around in the backwoods. The latter would be cut to pieces by the Michigan National Guard, much less the Regular Army.

      In any case, if our government did, in some unlikely future hypothetical scenario, become a tyranny and require a revolution, I see it far more likely as a revolution at the state level. So again, you’re talking Civil War, not civilians playing at being a militia. It would still be regulars v. regulars.

      In any case, I think hunters and shooters need to start pushing for more and better regulation, not just more regulation. We should push for it precisely because we don’t want others to senselessly limit our enjoyment and responsible use of firearms. I’m in favor of measures that will: 1. Reduce the access of firearms to psychopaths and criminals; 2. Grant wider and easier access to me as a firearms owner to cross state boundaries with my guns and not have to worry about a ridiculous patchwork of legislation; 3. “shall issue” conditions on any firearms or carry licenses that might be required within a reasonable period of time; 4. Mandatory safety courses; 5. Periodic inspections; 6. Certainly limitations based on individual profiles (i.e. maybe teenagers should not be allowed to purchase firearms without their parents’ consent until 21 years old, or something like that – or additional checks and requirements for young men making multiple purchases of arms and ammunition over a certain threshold within a certain period of time); 7. Banning certain classes of firearms and accessories (full auto weapons except for licensed dealers, rifle magazines with > 10 round capacity, handgun magazines with > 15 round capacities); 8. Mandatory ownership of a certified gun safe for storage of weapons in the home.

      I don’t presume that my opinions are universally valid, but I don’t see any hardships that these regulations would impose on me as a gun-owner. In fact, some of them might make my life easier (like a single license and uniform transport regulations across state boundaries, or the “shall issue” requirements (which already exist in many, but not all, states).

      Posted by fdbetancor | July 30, 2012, 11:01

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