Halting Gun Violence: An Open Letter to President Trump and Congress
Mr. President and members of Congress,
After the recent horrors of the Parkland high school massacre, and the sixteen other school shootings in just the first month and a half of 2018, our entire country is asking one question: “Are we going to do something to begin to curb this epidemic of gun violence or are we simply going to drift into a world where every man, woman and child must be armed in order to have any hope of protecting themselves since our government won’t?”
I believe the appropriate response to that question is to reconnect the two clauses of the Second Amendment to our Constitution, which states in its entirety:
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.
Today’s gun rights advocates seem to worship this Amendment almost as if it were a god. But paradoxically as they clutch its last fourteen words to their hearts they choose to ignore its first thirteen words, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” They also choose to ignore the rest of the Constitution, especially its Preamble, which informs us as to what our Constitution and its Amendments are meant to accomplish.
We should focus on that Preamble and its impact on the Second Amendment, because it illuminates and controls the entire Constitution. The Preamble states:
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.
When we slavishly adhere to only the last fourteen words of the Second Amendment we defeat all the purposes set forth in the Constitution’s Preamble. Why? Because in the face of pervasive and unchecked gun violence there can be no “domestic Tranquility,” the general welfare is threatened and degraded, and the common defense is abandoned in favor of an accepted ethos that everyone is on their own. Thus, there is no justice in place, which might have protected the dead and maimed in the first place. And the “Blessings of Liberty,” as well as the rest of the Constitution, become a mockery as we watch our “perfect Union” be torn apart.
Focusing on the Second Amendment itself, the word “Militia in its first clause is capitalized just as it is every where else in the Constitution. (Article I, Section 8 and Article II, Section 2.) Under Article II, you, President Trump, are the Militia’s Commander in Chief. Under Article I Congress is responsible for “organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia.” And under that article our various states are charged with training that Militia.
Your failure to enforce the Second Amendment in its entirety, along with Congress’ failure to organize, discipline and arm such a Militia (under which rubric would also be included specifying what types of arms the Militia should bear), allows unregulated citizenry and others to run wild. It empowers the unfettered and uncontrolled access of deranged, violent and hate filled individuals to weapons such as AR-15s, whose sole purpose is to kill large numbers of people in very short periods of time. That’s exactly what happened at Parkland. So, it’s up to you and Congress to lead the effort of insuring the horrific gun violence our country has been subjected to doesn’t happen again.
Up until now the inactions by you, Congress and the various state legislatures have allowed and enabled the Parkland shooter and his ilk by providing them access to the tools they’ve needed to wreak havoc on America.
Now is the time for you to accept the obligations imposed by the Constitution to institute the discipline and regulation required for our citizens to responsibly qualify as a “well regulated Militia” and be worthy of the right to keep and bear Arms. For starters, this should include full licensing of all gun ownership only after uniform background checks sufficiently rigorous to weed out those who are mentally unfit or harbor proclivities, beliefs and ideologies that threaten harm to the rest of the population. Also, under Article I’s implied power to specify the arms of the Militia, Congress should outlaw weapons whose purpose is to rapidly kill other human beings or devices used to convert any weapon to do so. Additionally, the sale and possession of large capacity ammo clips should be made illegal and all sales of firearms should require a background check for each individual gun sale.
Uttering platitudes such as “thoughts and prayers” are not enough. You, Mr. President, Congress and our state legislatures must find the courage to look to the nation’s best interest ahead of your own political futures. We citizens will support your efforts to do so, but if nothing is done to solve this problem, and soon, then we will mobilize in great numbers to find and elect new officials who will act to end this pattern of violence once and for all.
For the sake of our nation, these mass shootings must stop now!