Gallery 2
The Second Amendment
Gallery 2 - Page 3
Gallery 2-Page 2

That Second Big Issue – Gun Rights

By James Donahue

The Tucson Arizona shooting horror is bringing out a new call for the banning of the sale and right to carry guns in America. Writing such legislation now, however, would be like shutting the barn door after the horses have all escaped. The manufacture, sale and possession of guns of every kind is deeply engrained in the American culture.

Over the years I have personally owned and used various weapons ranging from my first .22 caliber rifle to a Russian SKS 7.62x39 mm semi-automatic rifle. I have always been an excellent marksman with a rifle, but found that handguns are relatively useless when attempting to hit a target at any distance. While I have owned and used such weapons, I have always deplored them. I am always uncomfortable just having them in my home. I do not hunt for wild game and consider all guns to be dangerous toys when in the hands of the wrong people. Yet I have kept guns around for the sheer purpose of self protection.

While my guns are rarely, if ever, fired, one of my rifles almost caused a tragic event in the family some years ago. My brother used my .22 caliber rifle while I was away at college, and carelessly put it away with a bullet still in the chamber. Sometimes later, our mother, while rummaging through the closet came upon the weapon. She was alone in the house and began playing with the rifle, aiming at things and tinkering with the mechanism. Fortunately, when it discharged, the bullet missed her feet and put a clean hole in the kitchen floor.

During my years as a news reporter I have written stories about young children accidentally shooting their brothers or neighbor children after getting their hands on their father’s stored and loaded handguns. I wrote one story about a county sheriff’s detective that accidentally shot himself in the foot while attempting to remove his revolver from his holster. He accidentally left the safety off.

Many of my neighbors and I am sure that many readers do not agree with me when I admonish the use of guns for shooting wild animals for the pure sport of the kill. Hunting is a major sporting event in the United States if not the world. The State of Michigan, where I live, makes a business out of issuing hunting and fishing licenses and stocking game in various areas to assure good hunting. The manufacture and sale of not only guns but all types of hunting accessories is big business in America.

Putting a stop to the excessive ownership and use of guns, not only for hunting but for home protection and police and military use, is not something that can be easily accomplished. Our elected political representatives are under a lot of pressure from such lobby groups as the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America to leave prohibition of gun sales and ownership alone.

Yet we all realize that the business of trafficking and sales of guns in the United States has often led to violent criminal acts. It has only recently been disclosed that a majority of the semi-automatic weapons being used in the bloody drug war at the U.S.-Mexican border are being manufactured in the United States and smuggled into Mexico for big profits.

That disturbed people such as Jared L. Loughner, the man accused of the Tucson shootings, or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who unleashed the horrors at Columbine High School in 1999, should have easy access to semi-automatic weapons, is especially troublesome.

While the Arizona incident may spark new calls for gun control legislation, we still have the issue of the Second Amendment to the Constitution to deal with. This amendment, also part of the Bill of Rights, protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Earlier attempts to adopt gun laws led to Supreme Court rulings in 2008 and 2010 that strengthens gun owner rights. The 2008 ruling states that individuals have the right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a militia and to use guns for traditionally lawful purposes including self-defense within the home.

The latest ruling limits state and local government authority over Second Amendment rights to the same extent that it limits federal authority.

Whether we love them or not, Americans appear to be stuck with their guns.