PARANOIA AND LOGIC |
January 07, 2013
Name: MAJ Ben Tupper
Returned from: Afghanistan
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
What seems to be forgotten in the current debate over reforming our gun laws is the introduction to the 2nd Amendment: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”. When I read these words, which were carefully crafted by our founding fathers, what jumps out is the word “militia." This word symbolizes an organized force, much like the men and women whom I currently serve with in today’s National Guard. Both the historical militia that fought on Bunker Hill, and today’s National Guard which fights natural disasters at home and enemies abroad, have one primary mission: to support and defend the nation and its Constitution.
But the reference to a militia seems to be lost on groups like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, who, in the name of unfettered gun access, ignore the opening clause of the 2nd Amendment, and focus instead solely on its conclusion, which states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Taken in its totality, the 2nd Amendment is clearly designed for the rapid deployment of an armed militia force in defense of the government and nation. Ironically, today’s gun lobby’s talking points are more about taking up arms and fighting against our government, which does not seem to fit the language nor intent of the 2nd Amendment.
Gun Owners of America spokesman Larry Pratt is regularly on national media outlets advocating for private arsenals as the only means to keep our democratically elected government from morphing into a fantastical tyrannical monster. To people like Mr. Pratt, what makes America a special place isn't the morals or values of its people, nor the character of those we elect to lead us. Instead, the only thing that keeps our nation dedicated to democracy is unregulated, privately held weapons arsenals.
I take personal offense to attitudes like this, because it basically says that people like myself, who serve in uniform in the United States military or in law enforcement, have no conviction to the Constitution, nor to laws of the land, nor to the values of their community. Instead we are only waiting for the chance to enslave an unarmed American nation. When people like Pratt say “guns are necessary to control the government” (Hardball, Dec. 17, 2012), and paint images of black helicopters and jack-booted thugs taking over America, they are talking about me and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms, who in their paranoid fantasy would be those tasked with establishing this tyranny. I can assure Mr. Pratt that we in uniform have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and to refuse orders that are illegal or immoral, and would do so if our civilian leaders faltered and attempted to overthrow the Constitution.
A large number of gun owners have served in the military and law enforcement. We don’t fear our government, we love it, which is why we choose careers to serve and protect our nation. Many of us have risked our lives for our democratic way of life, and as a result have extensive experience with the weapons of war. Personally, I am a gun enthusiast and arms collector and own assault-style weapons myself. But I also love my kids, and peaceful streets, and support taking steps to reduce threats to these things we cherish.
Because of this, I fully support efforts being put forth to close gun show purchasing loop holes, and banning the future purchase of assault weapons, as well as other common sense efforts to limit the lethality of firearms in America. I do so because I know that these efforts in no way threaten gun ownership nor deny people the right to bear arms. No one in elected office, from the President on down, is suggesting or proposing legislation that would make gun ownership illegal. Every weapon that is legally owned today should be grandfathered in and legal after the reforms are put in place.
Similar limitations in gun ownership have been enacted in our country’s history with no resulting usurping of the Constitution. In 1934, the National Firearms Act severely limited Americans' rights to own fully automatic machine guns without special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department. There was no ensuing government tyranny. In 1994, the passage of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban reduced access to and capacity of assault weapons, and again, no government tyranny ensued.
Let’s move gun reform down this sensible path.The measures being proposed are tempered. They will not solve all gun violence, but they will reduce the ability of the disturbed and disgruntled to sew as much mayhem. That is all we can ask of public policy, to reduce harm and make a safer environment. Many gun rights groups say these gun control efforts are pointless, because if we ban assault weapons, then the crazies will use other types of weapons to kill. I suggest they ask any police officer or infantryman if, given the choice, they would rather face an adversary with an assault rifle or a lesser capacity weapon such as a knife, revolver, or bolt action hunting rifle, and you will see the logic of reforming our current laws.