I found myself shocked by recent rulings by the courts against the control of guns in the United States. They were based upon that which they perceived to be the intentions of the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. But the Constitution has always been interpreted to recognize that times change.
Interpretations should not be based on what the Founding Fathers might have intended when they wrote the Constitution, but what the Founding Fathers would have wanted had they written the Constitution today. The option to amend the Constitution itself attests to the fact that they realized that interpretations would need to be in tune with the changing times. Nowhere could this be more obvious than in the area of bearing arms.
A gun at the time of the American Revolution was a thing of great value. The soldiers used a muzzle-loading flintlock musket. It had no rifling to spin the ball. It was "smooth-bored" to shoot both ball and shot. It used black powder, which left fouling behind when fired. It was not at all accurate. After 75 yards, it was almost impossible to deliberately hit anything. This is why the men formed into three lines, shoulder to shoulder, to fire volleys toward the enemy in the hopes that some might actually hit. Sometimes they would form in a single line all the way across the battlefield to fire. And in regard to handguns, it was not until 1857 that the cartridge revolver, rather than a cap and ball front stuffer, was developed by S&W in a .22 pistol.
Does the musket or the handgun referred to in the Constitution as "armaments" have anything to do with the precision killing instruments of modern times? The Founding Fathers would have been appalled at what we call "guns" today.
Also, because the Founding Fathers did not know if the Constitution would work, they wanted to make sure that, should a new revolution be necessary, armaments would be available. Thomas Jefferson made this quite clear. But, of course, the Constitution has worked. We have a well-armed militia. To apply such an argument today is laughable.
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, has said, "Just as gruesome as incoming casualties from a battlefield, the bodies of young gunshot victims stream into urban hospital trauma centers on the frontlines of an undeclared war on American children. The deaths of thousands of children each year is morally obscene for the world's most powerful nation, which has more resources to address its social ills than any other nation. On behalf of the tens of thousands of children and teens we have lost to senseless gun violence, CDF implores our leaders to seize this opportunity for taking a stand for common sense gun safety, which our country has tragically been lacking for far too long. The time for action is now before we lose thousands more children to senseless gun violence."
Harvard professor David Hemenway says, "We have many more handguns and much weaker gun laws than any other country." A 2003 Children's Defense Fund report found 2,827 children and teens died as a result of gun violence in that one year alone.
We are slaughtering each other, especially our children, on the streets of our cities with our "guns" of the 21st century. What would the Founding Fathers say about our negligence? Would they want to be blamed for this carnage? How long will people of compassion turn a blind eye to this catastrophe? How Long?
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.