My kids were watching Olympic figure skating with my husband and me when we flipped the station during a commercial.
“17 now confirmed dead in Parkland,” the news reporter droned.
The news report then switched to a press conference with a police chief and Governor Rick Scott, who stared blankly at the camera and said his “heart went out to the families,” while in the same breath telling the nation not to talk about gun regulation during this fraught time.
“Wait, that’s a school? Kids are dead?” my daughter asked.
“Another kid shot them? How? Why?” the other one followed up. My husband and I had to have an impromptu discussion about school shootings, and not in the theoretical.
The Declaration of Independence states that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable. The Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments, of which, obviously, the second is one) are meant to maintain these rights. It is failing. It has failed. It stands in the way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It stands in the way of life. It ends life. It ends childrens’ lives.
We live in North Central Florida, where Stand Your Ground has gotten ever stronger, and they try to pass open carry on school campuses every single session.
“If you ever hear a pop-pop-pop, dive down,” I said. “But don’t shut your eyes. Follow your teacher’s instructions. Hide. It’s very important. Because if a bullet hits you, you will die.”
“Like those teenagers?”
“Yes, honey, like those poor kids.”
We are now stuck in a deadly pattern. And for what?
For our Second Amendment rights?
The Second Amendment 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."
Passed by Congress in 1789, and ratified in 1791, it is clear that this amendment was put into place well before the average citizen had access to automatic weapons. The point, in fact, of the Second Amendment was to restrict Congress from being able to legislate away a state's right to self-defense.
But I don't see any states organizing state armies to defend themselves.
Over the past couple of hundred years, and especially after the Civil War, the United States has melded into a unified country. States utilize all their rights and legislate in different ways, but with no other constitutional wording do private individuals within any states use the document for their own private ends. They are held by the laws at the state and federal level. We need better gun laws at the state and federal level. Contrary to popular belief, it is legal to buy a machine gun in Nevada. Maybe it shouldn’t be.
The main push of the Second Amendment was to allow peoples who may be oppressed by those in power to defend themselves against such marginalization.
We are using it to do the very opposite. People are using an amendment that was meant to promote equality to kill those who try to live equally. We see mass shootings on school campuses from the elementary level to the university level. We see mass shootings in southern churches where the main population is Black. We see mass shootings of women when a man has been spurned. We see them in clubs meant as safe havens for our LGBTQ community in Orlando on their Latin night. Now we see bullets rain down on people at a music festival for nearly an hour before we can stop it.
In 1939, the Supreme Court verified the intent of the Second Amendment as an issue of collective rights. They said in The United States v. Miller that Congress could regulate firearms (in this case, a sawed-off shotgun) that did not have "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia."
This reading of the Constitution remained in place until 2008.
Let me say it again:
The reading of the Constitution that allowed for Congress to regulate the sale of some firearms remained in place until 2008.
So, please, don't act like our country has been giving out AK-47s for 50 years.
We’ve only just gotten this right, and look what we've managed to do with it.
In The District of Columbia v. Heller, Heller argued against the D.C. handgun ban that had been in place for 32 years.
In a 5-4 split decision, the Court decided on an individual right to bear arms. The Court followed that up in 2010 with another 5-4 decision in favor of getting rid of handgun bans, this time in Chicago.
This wild west of guns is new, and it is wrong. And it would not take much to overturn these precedents. The gun lobby is strong; the NRA is strong. There are many politicians who support and profit from these groups. Here are the ones who banned background checks for the purchase of firearms.
Amid the thoughts and prayers — which are not enough — there are those scrambling to blame one side or the other on the political spectrum.
We’re asked not to politicize these tragedies, and to that I say we aren’t. Because people living is not a political issue.
People at a concert or in a club or on the street have the right to live. Bill O’Reilly said this was the price of freedom. I beg to differ.
Where is the freedom in this? The freedom of more than 50 dead and hundreds injured doesn't outweigh the freedom of one person. The freedom of 17 school children to live and learn free from fear needs to mean something.
The Declaration of Independence states that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable. The Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments, of which, obviously, the second is one) are meant to maintain these rights.
It is failing. It has failed. It stands in the way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It stands in the way of life.
It ends life. It ends childrens’ lives.
Over and over again.
We are not a well-regulated militia.