The “Right to Bear Arms”

Now, I should start this entry with a few facts about me.  First, I am a citizen of the United States, native born.  Secondly, I hunt and I own firearms.  Thirdly, I am not now, nor to I intend to ever, be a member of the NRA.  I am writing this entry about the recent appeal by the NRA to the United States Supreme Court to have them rule on a case that is from Illinois where there are “ordinances barring the ownership of handguns in most cases in Chicago and suburban Oak Park, Ill.”  

Now I am, obviously, not in favor of law prohibiting the ownership of any firearms, which I also feel there is no threat of in our country, especially considering the last 2nd Amendment decision from the Supreme Court declaring that the 2nd Amendment gives American’s the right to personally own firearms for personal protection.  This article is about a recent filing by the NRA, on the heals of the previous decision, attempting to strike down any state or local laws of limitation in owning firearms, in this case hand guns.  

Does the right to bear arms mean any and all firearms or is there room for gun control and 2nd Amendment rights?  Now the NRA and those who follow their line of thinking will immediately say that limitation and freedom are antithetical, like water and oil.  But I am not so sure that is the case, at least in my opinion.  As I said previously that I never have been, am not and will not be a member of the NRA.  One of the major reason is because I do not follow nor respond to the rhetoric that issues forth from their ranks.  The gist of the thought is give an inch, lose a mile.  First of all, that idea is based out of fear and I don’t like to live my life responding to fear.  Secondly, it indicates that there is only all or nothing, which is also a flawed idea to me.  I have learned that there is very little that is truly black or white, if for no other reason than the fact that in human culture objectivity is not completely possible and our dependence upon it is greatly over-estimated.  

Why can’t there be reasonable gun control laws that fit the context of a particular place?  Are the people of the above cities legally prohibited from owning any kind of firearm?  I don’t think so.  So really they are all still able to bear arms in defense of their own homes (i.e. shotguns, which are truly the best home defense weapon of which I am aware or small caliber rifles if one prefers).  Maybe crime, gangs and other local issues makes this a reasonable law, giving the local law enforcement the opportunity to arrest and detain these criminal elements, whose activities make this law necessary and reasonable.  If these people want to protect themselves against these concerns (crime, gangs) then they are free to purchase a different type of firearm and thereby fulfilling their constitutional rights yet supporting reasonable gun control.  

I myself would have no difficulty in supporting laws of  reasonable gun control like the previous assault rifle weapons ban that president Clinton signed into law.  As I said, I hunt every year and I would prefer to not have AK-47’s and AR-15’s in the field.  I personally feel that they are not hunting weapons.  I know the logic of some that assert most of our hunting weapons started out as military weapons therefore logically these weapons should or could be seen as hunting weapons. While I see the line of reasoning, these rifles are not designed for longer range shots, but close range fighting so I don’t buy it.  

I for one do not believe that universal maxims (or in this case national) are the best way to govern in all circumstances.  I think that there needs to be flexibility in how we view the extent of our rights, what room there is for diversity of application and appropriate allowance given to our local, state and federal governments to limit these rights while still allowing for appropriate expression of those same rights.

I hope the Supreme court upholds the appeals court decision.  The right to bear arms doesn’t necessarily mean all firearms!

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