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Second amendment remedies: Or, what a difference a comma makes

Restoring Sanity

Mike Yavorsky

Issue date: 1/21/11 Section: Opinion
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Like any good upperclassman, I believe in waiting until the last minute to fulfill general degree requirements. That's four PHED classes senior year. That's SAGES my last semester. And that's how I ended up in a 100-level political science class with one of my favorite professors, discussing the Constitution.

After the midterm elections, we heard a lot about respect for our Constitution. There's just one problem: too many of those doing the talking have never read the Constitution. Many of us haven't, and before we sculpt a national agenda around it, I'd like to briefly discuss one of its most misread sections of it - the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment may be the most commonly misinterpreted amendment to the Constitution. "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." In America, we have a dangerous tendency to forget everything before that comma. Those of you who appreciate g will recognize a quote from the fictional communications director, Toby Ziegler. "The words regulated and militia are in the first sentence." And so they are. When waxing philosophical about gun control and the rights of hunters and sportsmen, we should remember that even before the invention of the semi-automatic, the Founding Fathers realized that we needed to regulate firearms in this country.

Setting aside regulation for the moment, we should spend some time thinking about militias. There is a mountain of evidence to suggest that the militias referred to were state militias, in an effort to give states a defense against tyranny. Does anyone believe that the Tea Party would be capable of leading a successful armed insurrection in the event that King George III endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate? No. Our only hope in the unlikely event that the United States fell to authoritarianism would be the secession and defense of the states. As a result, we can set aside the fantasy that citizens would have to forcibly defend themselves single-handedly against the government.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms. Seeing how no one individual will be responsible for the overthrow of a tyrannical government, however, it is outrageous for citizens to carry weapons capable of killing dozens of people without reloading. It is time to talk about gun control.

The first step we can take would be to reinstate the assault weapons ban. The law banned 19 semi-automatic guns along with ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds. While the ban could absolutely be improved, the limitation on magazines is essential. The massacre in Tucson earlier this month is one tragic and horrifying example of the need for such a limitation.

Under the looming possibility of domestic terrorism, how can anyone ignore the risks we take by allowing these weapons to end up in private hands?

An equally important second step is closing the gun show loophole. Currently, private dealers without a federal firearms license are exempt from conducting background checks. One law passed after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 prevents the purchase of guns by those subject to a restraining order related to domestic violence, those convicted of a felony, and those addicted to controlled substances. However, anyone can easily circumvent this legislation by purchasing guns at one of the many gun shows held every weekend in the U.S. Additionally, "private dealers" don't need to record the sale or see a driver's license. Any number of the 1.8 million purchases that have been prevented by the Brady Act may have been repeated successfully under the cover of a gun show. We have a responsibility to ensure that the gun control laws already established are enforced in every legal firearm purchase.

Mike Yavorsky is a third-year computer engineering major with a political science minor. He also serves on the executive board of Case Model United Nations.
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    posted 1/21/11 @ 12:33 PM EST

    The Second Amendment is the Second most misinterpreted amendment behind the Commerce Clause. I highly recommend Paul Madison's (a conservative historian) Second Amendment Fallacies:

    http://federalistblog. (Continued…)

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