To the editor:
Don't we need to consider the context in which the Second Amendment was written?
At the time, groups called anti-Federalists were suspicious of standing armies called for in the ratification of the Constitution, remembering the oppression of British troops.
The amendment was intended to prevent the federal government from passing laws that would disarm the state militias that were made up of ordinary citizens who served as part-time soldiers. The right to keep and bear arms in those militias was the issue. After all, there were no established police forces, National Guard nor a standing army when our county was founded.
The amendment stated, "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."
These were organized forces regulated by the state governments. Keeping people in line and bringing a sense of safety were essential, but establishing workable boundaries went along with this.
The militias were intended to be "well-regulated." Without such behavioral boundaries, a frontier mentality might have ruled supreme for decades. If a creature out there in the distance looked menacing, a gun would come out of its holster and the threat would be erased.
To my disbelief, a ruling by the Massachusetts Judicial Court stated that the possession of an illegal weapon is a "passive and victimless crime." That contradicted the idea of a functional entity, at the ready for possible mayhem.
How well has this supposedly maturing country done when the statistic is confronted that well over 120,000 Americans have been killed in non-terror related homicides since 9/11/01 and more than 2,405 since the shooting in Tucson?
This is nearly 25 times the number killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, 70,000 have been injured but haven't died, with 3,000 of those being children.
There are over 280 million guns in this country. Hasn't the time come to weigh their costs in human lives? Scientists are discovering that we're hard-wired for cooperation and caring, not for a frontiersman's fight or flight response.
It's later than late to grow beyond the outmoded mindset of having a right to keep and bear guns as citizen soldiers. A real shift in a fundamental attitude is required. A culture increasingly dedicated to the fostering of our innate qualities of cooperation along with the ability to resolve conflict without violence is in the offing.
Bringing this to pass will require dedication and hard work but the world and its people can then endure, not meet their demise because of guns and bombs.
Recently, former Gov. Mitt Romney has spoken up for "gun rights." Has he reviewed the Second Amendment?
Chapel Street, Gloucester