Time to look at relevance of basic right

Published 5:55pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

No matter how hard you try, politics always find a way to creep into family conversations during the holidays. This Christmas, my family was no exception.

After getting everyone up to date on who’s expecting a baby and how old everyone’s children are, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., of course, became a hot topic.

Some family members voiced their favor for the right to bear arms while others expressed a higher need for gun safety. Some of my relatives who are educators themselves said the tragedy especially affected them and caused them to consider the notion of having armed police officers in schools at all times for increased protection. Everyone seemed to have a definite opinion on the matter — everyone except me.

To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the second amendment, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I’m not a hunter and I don’t collect guns, so this right has never directly affected me. However, tragedies such as the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary and incidents like what happened at Selma High School just a week ago cause me to consider this right on a more personal level.

Should we limit who can and who can’t purchase a gun? Should we even sell automatic weapons to non-military citizens? By taking away one’s right to purchase certain firearms do we contradict our basic freedoms our nation was founded on?

These are all undoubtedly tough questions to answer, and to thoroughly address these issues, I think a solid understanding of the Bill of Rights is necessary.

The second amendment, adopted in 1791, was established so citizens could protect themselves and their homes from any enemies or intruders. This amendment was also established during a time when English settlers still had memories of what it was like to live in fear of English parliament, who could disarm them without question at any time.

As a nation, we have evolved in so many ways since the second amendment was originally written. We have confronted many obstacles and tried to find the best solutions so society can move forward and thrive. As a nation, I think it’s time we looked at this amendment again and consider how it fits into today’s society.

When James Madison sat down to write the Bill of Rights in 1789, he didn’t have an iPhone he used to text all his friends in Congress, and I doubt he had knowledge of the high power, automatic weapons that the United States would have available to the average citizen more than 200 years down the road.

Is our basic right to protect ourselves beginning to pose a lethal threat? If the answer is yes, then I think it’s time to reevaluate.

 

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