Times change; our guns should, too

By Francis Resta

We have two obvious points of discussion in debates about gun control in America: absolute control of assault weapons and ways to stem the deterioration of mental health. But the real issue about gun control that no one is discussing is what the Constitution in the 1780s would really mean about guns if applied today.

The United States in 2013 isn’t Syria or Libya. Those unfortunate souls are fighting for their liberty, as we were in the 18th century. Our Constitution included amendments that reflected the need to bear arms against the possibility of tyrannical government again taking our freedoms away. That’s where Syria and Libya are, now, and their people have no way of knowing whether the new governments that will come out of their wars will give them the freedom they fight for, as we didn’t know in the 1780s.

In fact, we were uneasily going to try a new form of government that no other modern peoples had ever tried — democracy. Talk about uncertain! Talk about the common person trusting!

And so those fighters in Syria and Libya today have assault weapons, mortars, machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers, artillery, even tanks. And perhaps that’s as it has to be. We were there in the 1780s, and had the latest rifles and pistols that the army had; some even had small cannons in their back yards, so we actually could have challenged the army if we had to.

But today, even if we privately had the latest weapons the army has, even if we privately had the latest state-of-tech communication equipment the army has, there is no way we, privately, could match the computer-driven command and control operations that the army has. In short, it is ludicrous to say that we private citizens should be permitted to have weapons with which we could prevent tyrannical government from again taking away our freedoms.

The Constitution is entirely antiquated on this score. Now is not the 1780s. It is time we realize that the gun and munitions industries are pushing gun sales in the guise of constitutional rights, but, in fact, they just want to make money.

It is time we trust our government, our democracy, our leaders, enough — as England and Australia have done — to give up all private ownership of guns. Those very few hunters who help the county, state and federal governments keep predators in check through controlled hunting could be licensed by their governments to belong to closely controlled clubs/squads to hunt predators, and issued guns to do so, but only while they are doing so, under close police overview.

All those unfortunate birds that try to fly by on their survival migrations aren’t predators, although duck hunters apparently think so. They even use shotguns (even more than a 1780s assault weapon) so those horrible, ferocious attacking ducks don’t have a chance to get at us poor defenseless, weak, vulnerable humans.

Ah, but the issue of personal protection — what about that? The answer to that certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. We spend trillions of dollars to make the United States militarily able to kill more people faster and destroy more targets than any other country in the world. Can’t we spend just a few billions to afford adequate police presence and technology that can really keep the peace? We don’t need weapons in our homes; we need adequate police protection in the communities of America.

— Francis Resta of Davis is a combat infantry veteran of World War II.

Special to The Enterprise

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