To the editor:
In the current debate over gun violence, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has successfully defined itself as the defender of individual rights as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Regrettably, advocates of gun control have allowed themselves to be drawn into this argument, and the result is that they appear to be attacking the Constitution. Score one for the NRA.
It’s time we turned the tables. Responsible citizens must demand that the NRA and its gun lobby allies define what the Second Amendment means by the word “arms.” What exactly are these “arms” that individuals are entitled to bear?
I’ll get the conversation started by saying that I think it would be fun to own a functioning M1A2 Abrams battle tank. After all, it’s just a big 120mm gun on a motorized chassis. It would be cool to park it in my driveway and scare the neighbors.
Would the NRA support my right to own a tank? If not, why not? What’s the harm?
OK, instead of the tank, I’ll buy a 50-caliber machine gun. I could mount that baby on my boat, and I’d be ready for any criminal who wanted to hijack me in Gloucester Harbor. I hope the NRA would endorse this; after all, a machine gun is just one of many “arms” that a well-regulated militia would have in its arsenal.
Another form of “arms” that I’d like to own would be a rocket-propelled grenade. Lots of militias all over the world use RPGs with great effectiveness. I would like to know if the NRA would endorse my owning an RPG. If not, why not?
I would like to remind skeptics that I have no police record and would pass any background check. In short, I’m one of the “good guys” that the NRA says should be armed.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that the NRA irrationally declines to support my right to own a battle tank, a fifty-caliber machine gun, or an RPG. Of course, in a strict reading of the sacred Second Amendment these are all “arms” that a well-regulated militia would have in its arsenal.
Let’s move down the food chain of weaponry to the ubiquitous M4 carbine, carried by U.S. soldiers around the world. This amazing killing machine can fire up to 950 rounds per minute and carries a 30-round magazine.
Would NRA President David Keene have any problem with me showing up at his kid’s birthday party with a loaded M4 strapped to my back? Hey, after all, I’m one of the “good guys” that the NRA thinks should bear “arms” as a sacred right under the Constitution.
How about the AR-15 Bushmaster? You’ve heard of that one. The Bushmaster is basically a repurposed military weapon. It’s a close cousin of the M4, except that it’s semi-automatic and you can’t spray bullets quite as fast. Still, it’s good for nothing except killing people, which as we have seen it does very well. And the NRA is adamant that the Second Amendment gives me the right to carry a Bushmaster wherever I want.
The logic of the NRA and its allies is completely and tragically absurd.