“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 sure enjoy target shooting with a 22 rifle, which I get to do most summers at Scout camp. I enjoy the skeet-shoot at the shotgun range, but I prefer the junk-shoot. My favorite targets are half-gallons of milk, and oranges.
I enjoy the Antique Armaments event, whereat we get to pick a historic rifle and fire it once or twice. I enjoyed shooting a civil-war era rifle once. It fired a grape-size lead ball that splattered when it hit the plate-steel target.
This summer at the start of camp, when our site host reviewed the week’s programming, he complained bitterly that some bigwig at the front office had declared there would be no post-World War II weapons present at the Antique Armaments event. Our host seemed to deeply resent what he characterized as interference in a popular event.
“So you mean no Sandy Hook guns?” I interrupted. He was taken aback and stared at me. I continued, “No San Bernardino weapons? Orlando?”
“Well–no, I guess not,” he stammered.
“Fine with me,” I said. “Sounds like a prudent and reasonable compromise position.”
Last night a gang banger ran down my block firing a handgun at an associate. He missed his target but struck and killed a neighbor, directly across the street from my front door. This is the second time in as many weeks a bystander was killed in crossfire on my block. That fellow with the gun does not strike me as a member of a “well regulated militia”, nor does he seem “necessary to the security of a free State.” Yes ISIS worries me, wealth inequity annoys me, government regulation of business exasperates me; but I most feel my freedom is threatened when I hear shots outside my door. My security seems weakest when there is blood on my sidewalk. And I think the greatest threat to our free State is the ubiquity of weapons in civil society.
In 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment extended beyond federal jurisdiction to the States as well, via the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I don’t quite follow the logic, but I understand the result: Chicago’s ban on handgun ownership was struck down. Now, I often feel like a victim of the handgun lobby–persons who have never lived in my neighborhood pushing their own agenda. But the lawsuit that did the trick was brought by Otis McDonald, who lived in Morgan Park, a Chicago neighborhood that declined into violence and crime in the 90’s and 00’s the way my neighborhood, Uptown, did in the 60’s and 70’s. McDonald’s house had been burglarized five times, and he was frustrated that he could not legally own a handgun to protect himself in his own home.
I do not quite understand the argument that connects self-defense to the Second Amendment. I am not sure what to do. I am not sure what I advocate. All I know is this: every time there is gun violence in my neighborhood, which is several times a week, I always think: “The last thing this situation needs is more guns.”
I really enjoy sport shooting. And I really hate guns.