"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."
That single sentence is the entire second amendment.That sentence has inspired more papers, books, articles and arguments than a person can count.
Let me start by saying that in my home you will find guns. My husband and I have concealed-carry permits for our pistols and we have hunting rifles and shotguns. We have all the guns we need (probably more than we need) and each of them has a purpose.
I am not anti-gun at all, but I am in favor of extensive background checks on all people who purchase guns. Even though the second amendment says that right "shall not be infringed," there are individuals who may not purchase guns. Among those are convicted felons, domestic abusers and people with specific kinds of mental health histories.
Access to ammunition should be equally regulated. It takes no effort to find guns for sale on the Internet through private sales, and ammunition may be bought on many Internet sites. The gunman who murdered 12 people in a Colorado movie theater bought ammunition online. He bought more than 6,000 rounds. Online. Anyone with a keyboard and a credit card can do the same.
"A well-regulated militia." Now that is a powerful phrase. And a complicated one. Organized militia, as described by the Militia Act of 1903, is like the National Guard. Unorganized militia is "every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age, not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia."
Most gun owners, by those definitions, would be considered unorganized militia members. Except that the intent of the second amendment is defense of the community. That, plus age, plus gender means my gun ownership has nothing to do with the second amendment. It is self-defense (though I have not felt threatened in years) and hunting (no way will a deer knock on the door of my barn to surrender.)
So the second amendment is not the magic phrase that lets us keep and bear arms. We just have always had them and we always will.
The vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens. And most would go out of their way to not use a gun against another human. But then there's the handful who give us all a bad name.
Background checks are favored by a majority of Americans. CBS News/New York Times polling found in June of 2016 that 89 percent of those surveyed favored a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers.
A Quinnipiac University poll in the fall of 2015 reported 83 percent of people supporting a law to prevent those on the U.S. terrorist watch list from purchasing guns. When asking the same question in the summer of 2016, that number had risen to 86 percent.
So if the American public wants stronger regulations on gun purchases and ownership, why do our representatives in congress vote against the desires of the public? I believe that well-funded lobbyists have more influence than simple constituents. I encourage everyone to be an active consumer of information and communicate with your legislators on a regular basis. They work for us.