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. --2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution
By Dennis Moore (a survivor of gun violence)
June 15, 2016 (San Diego)--The framers of the Constitution did not have in mind that the right to bear arms would result in the countless deaths of ordinary citizens by other ordinary citizens throughout our great country by “Glocks” and other semi-automatic weapons at malls and schools. Nor could they have envisioned the shooting deaths of nine members of a church in South Carolina at a worship service by a deranged young man, as well as the mass killings by gunfire at a theater in Colorado.
The framers of our U.S. Constitution, and particularly the 2nd Amendment notion of the right to bear arms, would be rolling over in their graves, if they were aware that their legislation contributed to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Columbine High School shooting, the recent San Bernardino massacre, and the recent Beretta USA opening of their new $15 million state-of-the-art firearms manufacturing and engineering center in Gallatin, Tennessee, which ultimately will kill even more people. Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee would have the audacity to state: “Obviously in Tennessee we take great pride in the Second Amendment and we were proud to have a company like Beretta move here.”
Modern debates about the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms, or a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard. This question, however, was not even raised until long after the Bill of Rights was adopted.
Many in the Founding generation believed that governments are prone to use soldiers to oppress the people. English history suggested that this risk could be controlled by permitting the government to raise armies (consisting of full-time paid troops) only when needed to fight foreign adversaries. For other purposes, such as responding to sudden invasions or other emergencies, the government could rely on a militia that consisted of ordinary civilians who supplied their own weapons and received some part-time, unpaid military training. This seems to be where our current distorted view on the “right to bear arms” for ordinary citizens evolved.
Civilians no longer expect to use their household weapons for militia duty, although they still keep and bear arms to defend against common criminals (as well as for hunting and other forms of recreation).
The law and its perception has also changed. While states in the Founding era regulated guns – blacks were often prohibited from possessing firearms and militia weapons were frequently registered on government rolls – gun laws today are more extensive and controversial.
I speak from experience as a victim of gun violence in my hometown of Chicago, having been shot in my stomach some 35 years ago at a family reunion after dancing with my wife, and in the throes of dying while grabbing my stomach in the area I was shot in and collapsing to the floor. My two sons, Damien and Darius, some 15 years after my near fatal gunshot injury, suffered a similar near fatal gunshot injury also in Chicago while coming home from the movie “Mortal Combat”, at their respective ages of 11 and 16. It was a painful and traumatic time and experience for our family, but unlike so many other gunshot injuries throughout America, I feel Blessed and thankful that we survived it and are alive to talk about it.
After Damien's surgery it was recommended by the doctors that he and our family have trauma therapy, but we only attended one session, which is perhaps why I now suffer from dysthymia, not to mention what other psychological pains others in our family may still have.
Damien lost his spleen in this shooting some 20 years ago, but it did not prevent him from being a star athlete at Hoffman Estates High School, just outside Chicago, and being honored with a plaque and his picture on the wall at the school as "Athlete of the Month" and making the Honor Roll for academics. It is truly a blessing that he is alive, and I was able to get a Father's Day greeting from him just recently.
Also, this past November in Chicago, my beloved nephew "Scooter" became a victim of gun violence as he was murdered on the westside of this city. I can recall quite poignantly a birthday party that he attended for my son Damien when they both were little kids. Scooter is pictured here with the party hat on standing next to my sons Darius and Damien, and their cousin Aaron in happier times some 30 years ago. Never would I have imagined that my nephew's life would have been ended by a gun.
To the National Rifle Association (NRA), Charlton Heston, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, perhaps they need to have a near death experience as I and my family have had before they advocate for the so-called Right to Bear Arms provision of the 2nd Amendment.
Germany, Donald Trump's ancestral home, seems to have found the solution to gun control and deaths from assault weapons. Tough gun control laws in Germany that were rigorously tightened after two ghastly school shootings in 2002 and 2009 have helped cut the number of firearm killings in half to about 50 a year, according to experts. Gun homicides in Germany fell from 106 in 2002 to 75 in 2009 and 51 in 2010 before climbing to 61 in 2012, according to the most recent data from GunPolicy.org.
By comparison, there were 10,945 gun homicides in the United States in 2014. This May, 66 people were shot dead just in Chicago.
"It's the mentality here that's so different," said Dietrich Oberwittler, a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg. "There is no gun mentality in Germany. It's a society that doesn't accept the idea that guns are needed for self-defense,,, On the contrary, we see guns lead to a loss of security."
Let me explain the painful experience and consequences of getting shot in my stomach on that fateful night some 35 years ago, feeling that hot lead, and fearing death as I struggled against passing out: “While walking my mother outside of the ‘Mecca Lounge’ on 115th & Michigan in Chicago to get some air from a volatile situation, after she had gotten into an altercation with another woman, this other woman shot twice at my mother with a 22 caliber revolver, but fortunately she missed my mother but hit me in my stomach and another man in his leg. People were scrambling under tables and everywhere, not realizing at the time that I had been shot. I instinctively grabbed my stomach and looked down and saw the blood flowing, which is when I felt this burning pain as if a hot knife was stuck in my stomach and I collapsed to the floor. I began to pass out, but fought it off, thinking that if I did I might not revive and would die. That ‘white light’ that you hear so many people talk about, is what I experienced as I thought of my wife and son Darius at the time. I was rushed to Roseland Community Hospital on the Southside of Chicago in a police paddy wagon, and at the hospital in the emergency room one of the policemen asked me if I wanted to press charges against the shooter. I said no, and ironically, I would later find out that the shooter was actually the mother of one of my best friends.”
In a recent USA Today story by Jarrett Bell, New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Payton lamented the “madness” of guns, particularly in view of the recent shooting death of one of his former football players, Will Smith. After the senseless shooting that left former defensive end Smith dead, and his wife, Racquel, wounded amid a beef linked to a traffic accident, the New Orleans Saints coach pleaded for more gun control. Payton specifically stated: “Two-hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?’ I applaud him and would be out front joining him!
Just recently, April 22, 2016, 8 family members were shot to death at 4 rural Ohio sites. This “madness,” as Sean Payton states, has got to stop! We as a country have to come to our senses! The victims were identified as the Rhoden family in and near Piketon, Ohio.
Also, just recently, the largest and deadliest mass shooting in United States history occurred in Orlando, Florida. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S.-born shooter who had pledged his allegiance to ISIS, gunned down 50 people in a club in Orlando – ironically, using the same type of automatic weapon used in the mass killings in Aurora and Newtown. Just today, and in defiance of the NRA, the senior senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, stated on MSNBC: “The automatic weapon used by the killer is not for hunting, as so many in the NRA proclaims, but for killing!”
This is what the AR-15 assault rifle looks like, the same weapon used to kill those little children in Sandy Hook and Orlando, and the weapon that Senator Bill Nelson is attempting to legislate a ban on.
Just yesterday, February 14, 2018, a Nikolas Cruz, walks into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 assault rifle, and shoots to death 17 people. This senseless gun violence has to stop!
Dahlia Lithwick, who writes about the courts and the law for Slate, and hosts the podcast Amicus, has written an article stating: "How the NRA and Conservatives Perverted the Meaning of the Right to Bear Arms." Lithwick further states: "So clearly and unequivocally held was this worldview that no less a liberal squish than Richard Nixon Supreme Court appointee Warren Burger said after his retirement in 1991 that the Second Amendment 'has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud - I repeat the word 'fraud' - on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime." This reading was based on precedent. The Supreme Court had clearly agreed with Burger's interpretation and not not that of the special interest groups he chastised, perhaps most famously in a 1939 case called U.S. v. Miller.
Bryan Caforio, a former partner in the law firm of Susman Godfrey and who is running against Congressman Steve Knight in California's 25th Congressional District, is in support of the latest gun control initiative, "No Fly, No Buy." It remains to be seen just how far it gets him in his campaign to unseat Knight, as Knight seems opposed to it.
I am sure that the framers of the constitution, particularly as it regards the 2nd Amendment, are turning over in their graves over what has been transpiring in our country.
Just recently, former Miami Heat NBA basketball star Dwayne Wade, himself a Chicago native, felt the anguish and pain as so many others at the hand of gun violence. Wade's cousin, Nykea Aldridge, a mother of four, was gunned down in Chicago. Although Illinois and the city of Chicago has strict gun controls, a lot of the gang bangers and those wanting to inflict harm on others, find it convenient to just go across state lines to Indiana, where gun controls are less stringent. Ironically, Indiana is where Donald Trump's choice for Vice President, Mike Pence, is the governor. Also, ironically, after Nykea Aldridge was gunned down on the streets of Chicago while pushing a baby stroller, Donald Trump tweeted about the gang violence in Chicago, without first giving any condolences to Dwayne Wade and the Aldridge family. Instead, he used it as a campaign opportunity.
Also, and just recently, one of the students killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, was buried wearing the jersey of Dwayne Wade. In honor of this student, Wade wore the name of this student on his basketball shoes at a subsequent Miami Heat game.
Assault weapons should be totally banned, as they are a tool of war, and the 2nd Amendment should be repealed. Just recently, John Paul Stevens, a retired associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, has called for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dennis Moore has been the Bookshelf section editor of the East County Magazine and the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago." Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.