01/13/2011 05:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Goodbye/Hello 20: Second Thoughts About the Second Amendment



In the wake of last week's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, it is time to revisit the intent of the
Second Amendment. The photo above is from outside the United Nations. The image is a strong symbol and reminder to the idea of non-violence. Yet we seem to be, if anything, a country that has become far too violent.

Based on production data from firearm manufacturers, there are roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States as of 2010. Of these, about 100 million are handguns. Nationwide in 2008, law enforcement agencies reported that 55% of aggravated assaults, 27% of robberies, 40% of rapes, and 64% of murders that were reported to police resulted in an alleged offender being arrested and turned over for prosecution. Now these statistics begs the question: what kind of country are we turning into? Do private citizens really need weapons such as the 9-millimeter Glock with a 30-bullet clip? Here is a quote from Trent Conway of the Salt Lake Tribune "Hey, I believe the Constitution gives every sane American without a record a right to own a gun for self-defense. But no right is absolute, and the average citizen needs a semiautomatic gun as much as they need a bazooka. Similarly, freedom of speech is vital to a democracy, but you can't libel, slander or yell "fire" in a theater." It is illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison for the following people to receive, possess, or transport any firearm or ammunition: Someone who has been ruled as mentally defective or has been committed to any mental institution.

In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second Amendment decisions. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Additionally, the Court enumerated several longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession that it found were consistent with the Second Amendment. In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Court ruled that the Second Amendment limits state and local governmental authority to the same extent that it limits federal authority.

Our gun laws are not yet written to protect from the unlawful use of firearms. If anything they make it far too easy to do harm. Just ask the Brady's, who have been fighting for stricter gun laws ever since James Brady was shot in the head after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago. This is such a contentious battle that this country has gone back and forth on. Is it possible that we can finally put into place laws that protect citizens from their unlawful use?

Will Congress finally find the courage to ban semiautomatic guns? If not, then how will we rectify the death of the 9-year-old Christina Green? Stare into the face of that little girl,
Congress, and find the political will to ban these guns. Only the police and military need semiautomatic guns. Otherwise, America will look like the Wild West. A shoot 'em up kind of culture destined to have other tragedies in Tucson. Where is the sanity in all of this?

Goodbye semiautomatic guns for private citizens
Hello responsible gun laws that ban semiautomatic guns

Goodbye to Congress not taking action in the name of Christina Green
Hello to Congress assuring that there will be no future Senator Gabrielle Giffords

Goodbye to America being known as the Wild West
Hello to America being known for saner and more reasoned gun laws