Your Turn: Voters, not the Second Amendment and guns, protect us from our government

photo by: Submitted photo

John Solbach, III

Parts of the U.S. Constitution are patterned after the Magna Carta, which contained a clause that if the King deprived barons of their rights, they could claim those rights by force of arms.

But that doesn’t mean our Constitution says something similar, no matter how you read the Second Amendment. To institute change, we must use persuasion or the ballot box, not force of arms. Still some people believe they have that right.

The second amendment provides:

“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.”

The US Supreme Court has always interpreted it as “a people’s right through their militias” rather than an individual right, championed by Justice Antonin Scalia. I believe Justice Scalia was wrong when he interpreted the second amendment as an individual right. The right of self-protection is embodied elsewhere.

It is true guns do not kill people, people do. But guns make it easier. There is no reason anyone should own an assault weapon. It takes a coward to shoot unarmed people and a super coward to shoot unarmed children. I have guns, some small caliber and some large caliber. They are farm tools, not for shooting human beings. I carried assault weapons as a marine in Vietnam, both an M14 and M16. I have none and need none today.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, when asked of the incidence of mental illness replied “one to one.” Everyone suffers from mental health problems. For most, it’s like the common cold, resolved with the help of friends and family, but for some it’s chronic and debilitating, causing untold problems. Dr. Karl has said people often mix up their homicidal and suicidal tendencies, like the mass shooters that make news now with regularity.

The Second Amendment does have a purpose. It was first used by George Washington in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion. As President and Commander in Chief, he rode through Pennsylvania and nationalized local militias (under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution). The Whiskey Rebellion was a rebellion by western Pennsylvania farmers revolting against the Government’s imposition of a tax (on the whiskey they were making from the excess grain) to pay debts incurred during the Revolutionary War.

When Washington arrived in western Pennsylvania, he was riding at the head of the largest army he had ever commanded. Rebels seeing the size of Washington’s force, decided to pay their taxes. That is the best example of what the second amendment means, how it can be used, and its purpose. It’s not for the purpose of overthrowing the government and not for the purpose of permitting assault weapons for all citizens.

To do something about guns, we must stop immunizing the gun industry. Make the manufacturers, suppliers, transporters and sellers strictly liable for damages. I can guarantee if we do that, the industry will police itself. Guns won’t be proliferated as currently, nor will guns be sold to people who shouldn’t buy them.

Without any liability, it is free to manufacture guns, put them in the hands of as many people as possible to make money. If not immunized, the gun industry will be falling over itself, clamoring for common sense gun legislation, such as universal background checks, assault weapons ban, closing gun show loopholes and red flag laws. They will be in Congress and state legislatures trying to get common sense gun legislation passed, instead of offering “thoughts and prayers.”

Look at the federal elections commission information to see who gun groups are contributing money to. Look at those politicians voting records. If you see a connection, you can do something at the ballot box. The information is also available in most states.

Ultimately, the responsibility for the laws we have falls upon the citizens, the voters.

John M. Solbach III is a former Chairman of the Kansas State House Judiciary Committee and instructor of Gun Laws for Attorney’s Continuing Legal Education.


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