On the Second Amendment

By Randy Wakeman

The 2nd Amendment was never primarily about hunting or target shooting, as enjoyable and traditionally American as these activities might be. The core of the 2nd Amendment right, repeated not just in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, but throughout many later state constitutions, is self-defense, home defense and community defense against criminals, foreign invaders and any domestic government that attempts to usurp the rights of individuals.

When Delaware added 2nd Amendment rights to their state constitution in 1987, they were not talking about flintlock muskets: it was 1987! "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use." (Article I, 20; enacted 1987).

Alaska: "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. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State." (Article I, 19; first sentence enacted 1959, second sentence added in 1994). Updated in 1994, the reference is not about muskets; it was modern firearms to which they were referring.

"The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the State or a political subdivision of the State." That is crystal clear, unambiguous language with no wiggle room.

Semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carbines have been sold to civilians since the 1960s. The AR-15 was included, and not excluded, by Delaware, Alaska and many other states. The AR-15 was in common use by civilians 25 or 35 years before these constitutional amendments were passed.

Any number of other semi-automatic rifles were also common. For example, before these amendments were passed, the semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 was quite popular. The Ruger Mini-14 is 45 years old today and over 850,000 have been sold. The Ruger Mini-14 is common, usual, popular and far from new.

The core of the 2nd Amendment right, reinforced federally and by the states, is lawful defense of self and others. Whatever someone's idea of a moose rifle might be is immaterial: the Ruger Mini-14 / Mini-30 and AR-15 platform rifles are as good for home defense as anything and better than many things. Effective personal defense firearms, such as the Mini-14 and AR-15, are exactly what Delaware, Alaska and other states have explicitly protected from government infringement or tampering.

The semi-automatic M1 Carbine has been produced commercially for civilian use since 1945. It is a 75 year old rifle. You can get 10, 15, 20 and 30 round detachable box magazines. It is nothing new. It is almost as common as dirt and with over 6,000,000 of them produced for WWII alone, everyone who ever wanted one after the war got three. No one labeled the .30 Carbine an "assault rifle" and civilian ownership raised just about zero eyebrows in the late 1940s, through the 1950s, the 1960s . . . and few bother to rant about them today.

The M1 carbine was always a handy defensive weapon and its replacement, the AR-15, was the same. It was initially adopted for service in the United States Air Force as the M16 though the offices of General Curtis LeMay, the head of the Strategic Air Command.

In July of 1960, General Curtis LeMay attended a 4th of July party where a Colt salesman put three watermelons on a firing range at distances of 50, 100 and 150 yards. He then gave General LeMay an AR-15 and some loaded magazines. Hitting watermelons was apparently all it took to impress LeMay. Although he is said to have ordered 80,000 of them on the spot, that order was held up for a couple of years, dwindling to 8500, which was delayed a few times until May of 1962. This is how the AR-15 got its start as America's service rifle/carbine.

AR-15s are widely used for self-defense, and also for target shooting and hunting. What they are not used for very often is crime: only 1% of gun homicides.

Dick's Sporting Goods recently banned the sale of AR-15 type firearms in their stores. How stupendously bizarre for Dick's (or anyone else) to thoughtlessly ignore the 99%.

Dick's Sporting Goods is blatantly dishonest and opportunistic. If they were sincere about not wanting to sell AR-15s, now suddenly a bad thing, they would humbly offer full refunds on all AR-15s, magazines, accessories and ammunition they have profitably sold over the years. No chance of that. They are happy to keep the money from sales that they now, hypocritically, think should be banned. Captain Obvious knows that they only call for a ban on things they no longer sell. How just too convenient is that?

What is referred to as a "gun problem" or "epidemic" clearly is not. According to the New York Times, over 60% of firearms fatalities are suicides. If you think this is a problem, all you have to do is persuade people not to kill themselves and roughly two-thirds of the problem is gone. AR-15's are rarely used in suicide, for that matter, either.\uc0\u8232 \u8232 What is dishonest is not recognizing that guns are used for lawful self-defense 750,000 times, or more, per year. Criminologist Gary Kleck (Professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University) puts the number above 2,000,000.

Kleck's work shows an estimated 2.2 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGU) happen in the U.S. every year. That is less than 1% of the guns owned in the United States and the Kleck/Gertz study found that 76% of the defensive gun uses did not involve firing the weapons. In 1997, NSPOF projected 4.7 million DGU per year by 1.5 million individuals, after weighting to eliminate false positives.

If you want to take away AR-15s and other semi-automatic carbines from legal owners who use them for self-defense, innocent people will die. That primarily means younger, female and older folks, who may have trouble operating handguns and cannot easily handle high recoil firearms, such as shotguns, but can and do use AR-15s, Mini-14s and the like confidently and competently.

Take away AR-15s from the single mother, the young, the old, the frail and you have turned them into victims and have legislated away their ability to defend themselves. Nor are women only concerned about the ability to defend themselves in the home.

One example is Cook County, Illinois. African American women in Cook County had the sharpest growth, 67% from 2014 to 2016, of any demographic receiving concealed carry permits in Cook County, based on applicants who disclosed both their race and gender.

If you like the idea of single mothers and their children becoming victims, take away their legally owned AR-15's and 30 round magazines. You have just made the world a safer place . . . for criminals.

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Copyright 2018 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.