Saturday, October 21, 2006

What this Country Needs is a Well-Regulated Militia

By the time you read this, another toddler will probably have killed his sibling, daycare-mate, teacher, or entire family with a gun... not just any gun, but a handgun. In fact, that’s likely to be the very reason you're reading this, as we struggle for answers… answers to the latest tragedy that secures, for a few more years, the United States' position in the Guinness Book of Records for "statutory stupidity."

How such a tragedy can happen will not be answered in the psychologist's office or our jails. The immediate answer is simple: it is too easy to kill people with handguns—so easy a four-year old can do it. There's more than enough pent-up aggression in our society to spark the flame of gunfire, no matter how well adjusted most of us are. Mankind has a million-year heritage of ferocity to call upon when he needs to pull the trigger on someone… it won't easily go away. But that's only the answer, not the much more difficult solution.

Finding our way out of this nightmare has eluded us because our strategy has been weak—much too weak to counteract a Constitution that has gone unchanged through industrial revolution, and three or four other revolutions for that matter. We must target the Second Amendment wall behind which the National Rifle Assn. hides our millions of handguns, by working through and into the wording, not around it:
"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."
I'm not a staunch advocate of the so-called anti-tyranny defense, but one must at least understand it to effectively build a successful ploy against handguns. In Cambodia, millions were killed by a fascist regime, a story indelibly etched by the movie The Killing Fields. Second amendment advocates argue that we need guns to prevent such uprisings here, whether by our government becoming too heavy-handed, or any other insurgency. Unseating this logic will be difficult because, at the core, it bears merit. That's why the wording in the Constitution is so broad and incontrovertible: literally taken, that word infringe means we can't even control, track, or improve guns if the purpose is to limit them in some way.

So what we must do is facilitate the militia itself. We must get all the gun nuts together, far from any metropolis, to play with their guns. After all, we need their protection. We should give them the best assault weapons. If they want to keep their handguns at these militia outposts, let 'em. By securing our free state with these well-regulated militias, we can then fairly impose the following sanity on our metropolitan areas: NO HANDGUNS IN A 50-MILE RADIUS OF METROPOLITAN AREAS. Exactly what penalty we impose on violators is secondary, but there's a nice logic to one solution: break the law and you are banished to serve your country with ten years at our well-regulated militia. Notice I don't suggest limiting rifles—even assault weapons—anywhere. We must make this concession to have a chance of enacting the legislation. The recent onslaught of senseless killings is not from assault weapons or rifles, and our abhorrence of their proliferation is a distraction from the goal.

This is not meant to be a frivolous suggestion. Rather, it is a shrewd strategy against a frivolous but deadly antagonist. Only by working toward a well-regulated militia, and respecting the anti-tyranny defense, can we get the handguns out of our towns and deliver our children from handgun hell.

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