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A letter to the NRA

by Robert Randle  
4/13/2013 / Politics

There is no simple answer to curb the escalating gun violence in America and the pain, suffering, anger, mental and emotional anguish that families, friends and loved ones have to endure when faced with attending the funeral of those whom they will never see again in this life. One of the cornerstones of your organization is the "right" to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While it is not my suggestion that the federal government should confiscate every citizen's guns because such an action would be impractical but the issue of gun ownership is worth looking at again, from a perspective that, at least to my knowledge, has not been introduced into this public debate. There is an old saying in some Christian circles, "Text without Context becomes Pretext." This relates to interpreting Biblical passages without taking into account the circumstances in which the narratives are written, and the absence of such a technique can lead someone to misapply scriptural standards to a given social situation.

That being said, the Constitution is more than just the articles and amendments but rather a whole document, including the Preamble, and most importantly, the Declaration of Independence. In fact, it is the latter that provides, at least to my thinking, the moral and legal justification for the colonists, though still subjects to the King of England and British Parliament, which granted charters or legal agreements to establish colonies in the New World, due to abuses from their sovereign, to declare themselves free and independent states and no longer subject to the monarchy. There are at least 17 reasons or categories that those in rebellion gave for their decision, which were reintroduced or formed the basis for inclusion as the Second Amendment, Federalist papers notwithstanding, are as follows:

The state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions from within (Second Amendment; Article 1, Section 8b).

He has kept among us in times of peace standing armies (Third Amendment; Second Amendment), without the consent of our legislatures.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; for protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states (Second Amendment; Third Amendment).

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us (Second Amendment).

He is at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death (Second Amendment), desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy; scarcely parallel in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.

He has excited domestic insurrections among us (Article 1, Section 8b), and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rules for warfare, is an undistinguished destruction, of all ages, sexes, and conditions (Second Amendment).

So, in a nutshell this is why the right to bear arms was written into the Constitution because it was adopted and codified during a period based on the aftermath of the Revolutionary War of 1776. All the 13 individual colonies had at this time in the way of domestic security were civilian Militias for protection, and so it would seem prudent as well as practical, to enact into law what was customary practice to keep gunpowder and musket within reach just in case one had to respond to some unexpected internal or external threat. Personally, I don't know whether fewer guns or more guns are the answer, but at least for the sake of constitutional clarity, before you start yelling about gun rights, read the Declaration of Independence first and stop using the Second Amendment as though it is sacred, like one of the Ten Commandments.

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
April 12, 2013

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