EDITORIAL: The founding fathers had it right all along

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Nearly all new legislation coming out of Washington, D.C., is an outgrowth of a crisis — whether real or created and heightened by politicians who want the public to believe they’re taking care of our needs.

Instead of drilling down to the root cause of a problem and solving it, politicians pass sweeping laws or issue executive orders that rake in people who had nothing to do with the problem. In too many cases, these actions further erode public freedom and undermine the U.S. Constitution, which becomes less and less relevant in the process.

President Obama’s push to control gun ownership is just the latest in a series of executive orders and legislation about which America’s founding fathers warned us. Benjamin Franklin, for example, said, “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Political rhetoric about hunters not needing certain kinds of guns or ammunition clips serves no purpose in dealing with the murders that have occurred in schools and elsewhere. It is shameful that elected officials at any level of government exploit the kind of tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., by enacting laws or rules that limit the constitutional rights of the public.

It appears that many who refer with disdain to the Second Amendment of the Constitution have not bothered to read it. The amendment simply reads: “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.”

George Mason, Virginia’s delegate to the Constitutional Convention, addressed this amendment by saying, “Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Like most of the Constitution, and as several of the founding fathers made clear, this amendment is there to protect citizens from an overreaching government. It does not confer a right to bear arms, as some proclaim. Instead, it forbids the government from curtailing that right. Furthermore, it is not there just to protect the rights of hunters, as much of the rhetoric has suggested.

It should not surprise anyone that “gun-free zones,” such as schools, act as an open invitation to predators who look for places with the least armed resistance.

The most restrictive gun laws are imposed in large cities, where the greatest number of murders are committed. If gun controls were effective in preventing murders, then Chicago would be one of the safest places to live. The city makes it very difficult and expensive for its citizens to own a firearm of any kind. But Obama’s adopted hometown reported 513 murders last year, a 15 percent increase over 2011.

Yet, a look at President Obama’s gun law proposals shows that they are almost identical to those in Chicago.

In contrast to Chicago, the state of Vermont has a very high rate of gun ownership, along with the least restrictive laws of any state. Currently, it is the only state which allows a citizen to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Vermont has a crime rate that is the second lowest in the nation. Maine, which has the lowest rate, has almost identical firearm ownership laws.

It would be advisable for lawmakers to not only consider what the founding fathers placed in the Constitution, but the warnings that they gave us about the erosion of freedom.