I grieve with the families who lost a loved one to the violence visited in Newtown, CT, last week. My heart goes out to all of you and I hope you will find the strength to carry on.
I’m an atheist. That’s someone who disbelieves the existence of gods. It doesn’t mean I hate God, or religion. It simply means that I’m not persuaded by the evidence for god to believe such a being is real. So like leprechauns and faeries, I don’t believe gods are real either. But don’t get me wrong. I recognize the possibility that I could be wrong. There are many things we believed didn’t exist that have since been proven to be a reality…like black holes in space, dark matter, and the Higgs Boson. (Sorry….science geek here.)
Like most of you I have been reading everyone’s reactions to the gruesome murders of 20 children and 6 school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I share in their shock, and their grief.
But I have also watched people like Mike Huckabee declare with a straight face,
“[we] ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
Children still pray in school, Mike. God has not been banned from schools. Instead, it’s religious zealots, who think schools are a place for them to preach their views of god in exclusion to others, who think children should be led in organized prayer to their god, that have been banned from our public schools. And that’s a good thing. After all, if we allowed Christian zealots into the schools to preach their beliefs, then we would also have to let Satanist zealots into the schools to preach about their god as well. That’s what our first amendment means….all religions are equal and have equal rights to the same privileges. And I sure don’t want my grandkids being preached to about the Satanist’s god. Do you, Mr. Huckabee?
James Dobson put his own spin on the narrative of this crime.
“I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.”
Dobson’s god sounds like a psychopath that kills kids because He isn’t getting enough attention. That’s a god not worth worshipping, James, and I would have to question the mental state of anyone who would worship such a monster. A singular Christian like James Dobson does far more damage to belief in his God and his religion than a thousand militant atheists ever could.
My father was a gun smith for the US Government. He was also a member of the NRA. He was the sole gunsmith who made the General Officer sidearm – a modified Colt 45 ACP M1911A1 – from 1980 until his retirement in 1986. I was raised on gun culture. I believed in my right to keep and bear arms per the 2nd Amendment. But Sandy Hook has made me look at that right. I have to ask, “is my right to bear arms more important than the lives of these children.” The correct direct answer, by the way, is “no.”
When our forefathers crafted the words we find in the Bill of Rights, the supreme single operator “arm” of the age was a rifled barrel flintlock; a Kentucky long rifle. They could not envision the cartridge bullet, the rotating drum of a revolver, or a gun that loads its own bullets drawn from a magazine clip. They couldn’t envision grenade launchers, machine guns or pistols, missiles, or the atomic bomb. These are all “arms” but they are not what our forefathers had in mind when they wrote, “[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.”
But let’s examine this Amendment carefully. “A well regulated Militia,…” United States law, under Title 10 Chapter 3, clearly defines a “Militia” as,
“… all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.”
So, that first part identifies whose “right to bear arms will not be infringed.” Thus, a better rendering of the second Amendment would read “The National Guard, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people, who are from 17 to 45 years of age, to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
But these days the National Guard have their own weapons and armories. There is no longer a need for the individual members of the militia to keep and maintain their own flintlocks should they be called upon to defend the state. The state provides for them. And that renders the second Amendment moot in this modern age. There is no right to keep and bear arms outside of the militia and its necessity to protect the state. I think it’s time we stopped looking past the first clause to focus on the last.
Sandy Hook is becoming the watershed event of gun rights. Retailers have voluntarily removed assault weapons from their shelves. The owners of the manufacturers of the Bushmaster, the assault rifle used to gun down those 20 children and 6 educators, are going to sell that manufacturer. Pro-second Amendment politicians have refused to be interviewed by the media. Too scared are they all to offer even their condolences to the families who lost a child on Friday, the 14th of December 2012.
I think they know what’s coming…the end of the 2nd Amendment, or at the very least, a critical revision of our gun laws. Let’s make our memorial to these victims a drastic change to our nation’s gun culture.