Please, gun owners: Read this

I sincerely hope that people who own and love guns will read this alongside those who hate them. Here goes nothin’…

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.

There is a dependent clause in the second amendment. Do you see it?

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.

A dependent clause, by definition, clarifies and refines the rest of the sentence. It outlines the precise condition for the rest of the statement.

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.

Do you see it?

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state

It’s the only such specifying statement in the entire Bill of Rights, so it had to be important.

Nowhere else is a right of the people qualified and clarified.

The first amendment doesn’t explain why we need to have free speech nor provide conditions for how that speech should be used.

Even the Founding Fathers, white men (and only men) who owned slaves and couldn’t see the future, still had enough sense to know that arming the populace without any condition was dangerous and ill-advised. So they specified the PURPOSE of the amendment: “Being necessary to the security of a free state.” As in, if the British should come back and try to reclaim us, the same farmers who picked up guns to free this country should be able to do so again. And they clearly specified the CONDITION under which the amendment would apply and WHO it would apply to: “A well regulated militia.” As in, we need to make sure those people are trained, have very clear instructions on when they can use these arms (“well regulated”), and only use them in the defense of the “free state” as a collective “militia.”

But if you ask someone, specifically a gun owner, to explain the second amendment, they tend to start with “The right to bear arms.” In fact, when most of speak of the second amendment, we tend to shorten it to just that, leaving out the dependent clause “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.”

Yes, I know I just repeated that clause a whole lot. It only seems fair given how often we choose to ignore and overlook it.

Whatever argument you wish to make, whatever stance you choose to defend when it comes down to gun ownership, you cannot deny that the amendment as it was proposed, ratified, and incorporated not only ALLOWED regulation to occur, it DEMANDED such regulation.

I have friends who love guns. Wait, let me be more specific… I have smart, kind, good friends and family who absolutely love guns. I do not hate gun owners. And I am not delusional enough to believe that we will EVER have a flat-out ban on firearms, even if it would unarguably reduce America’s horrifying murder rate, suicide rate, and accidental death rate.

I thought long and hard about how to say something different on this issue, something that wasn’t just the same retread of every thinkpiece and blog, every heated social media exchange that happens on the daily. I wanted to focus on something that would TRULY move the conversation along. Because the gun owners I know are fathers and mothers or brothers and sisters. I know, for a fact, that they are sickened by the school shootings, 74 of which have happened AFTER Sandy Hook, from coast to coast.

Shooting map

I know that they are sickened by the mass shootings, which are spreading like wildfire.

Mass shootings

I know that as much as they love their guns, as much as they would NEVER want to give them up, I know that they too want this to stop.

Sure, there are outliers like “Joe the Plumber,” who callously used tragedy to put himself into the spotlight when telling grieving victims of a mass murder “Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional right.”

I know talking to Joe won’t help. Besides, I know that Joe represents a very small but vocal minority. So I’m not talking to Joe.

I know that talking to the NRA, who have made billions pushing the envelope on stretching the limits of the second amendment, won’t help. They’ll ignore me or shout me down. So I’m not talking to the NRA.

I know that talking to booming gun industry or the various stores that profit from gun sales won’t help. They are in business to make money, and so long as guns are doing that for them, there’s no conversation to be had. So I’m not talking to the gun industry.

But I have to believe that talking to the average person, the average gun owner who loves their family, who loves their community…I have to believe THAT could make some kind of a difference.

So I’m talking to you. Or at least to your friends and family who own or love guns.

I started thinking what proposals I could make to the kind, intelligent gun owners I know. Not the fringe folks who believe that guns can/will actually protect them from an American government that wants a military state. I mean, more than a third of Americans own guns. There’s no way that many people are extreme. Most of these people would NEVER think of saying something like Joe said. All of them want people to be safe and despise murder, specifically the murder of children.

I started by thinking of what we all agree on, no matter the side of the gun debate we come down on.

  1. There are more shootings than ever before.
  2. Specifically, there are more school shootings than ever before.
  3. This is unacceptable.
  4. Mental health plays a role.
  5. “Bad” or “sick” people shouldn’t be able to have guns.

There may be more we agree on, but I KNOW we agree on that much. So I began working on a proposal. I figured, so often when we get into this debate it’s just yelling back and forth. It winds up being personal attacks and never focuses on something concrete.

I started to craft what I would be comfortable with in terms of gun registration, responsible selling/buying rules, mental health reviews, and so forth. But then, out of nowhere, it hit me.

This isn’t on me.

This isn’t on the people who are opposed to guns.

This is on the gun supporters.

Sure, I feel a responsibility and need to protect myself and others from those who have guns, but I don’t own any. And, frankly, though it will never happen, if all guns were outlawed, I wouldn’t care. So why is it my job, why is the responsibility on ME and other people who DON’T like, want, or have guns to fix a problem caused by items we don’t like, want, or have?

Moreover, isn’t anything we propose just going to be ignored or shouted down? The NRA could give a shit what I think.  How could I ever persuade them to do anything? And when it comes to Congress? Well, the politicians who are protecting guns and preventing regulation are people who ALREADY KNOW they aren’t getting my vote. Why would they listen to me?

This is not a problem I am causing nor a problem I can fix. Combine that with the fact that, like I said, I know so many kind, well-intentioned gun supporters who want this problem solved…and you have my new line of debate.


Let’s work backwards from YOUR suggestions to fix this.

How do you prevent the following scenario: A classroom full of grade-school children is attacked by a gunman who immediately kills the only adult in the room.

How do we get the mass murder rate down?

How do we get the school shootings down?

How do we stop guns from being used as often in suicides?

How do we stop the accidental deaths?

We can’t just leave it up to individuals, as that’s not working. I know you are sickened when you read the story of a young sister shooting her brother fatally on accident. How do we make sure we are in the best position to prevent that?

We HAVE to regulate this. It’s right there in the dependent clause that starts the amendment.

We HAVE to come up with solutions that aren’t just talked about but actually implemented.

We HAVE to move faster than we are right now because the body count is stacking up.

Gun owners, gun supporters, gun lobbyists, gun defenders: I am listening! We are all listening! Doing nothing is not an option, so make us an offer. Propose a solution to a problem that involves something YOU own but WE do not. 

We’re waiting.

And while we are…people are dying.


3 thoughts on “Please, gun owners: Read this

  1. Hi Ryan,
    A couple ideas to addressing your concerns as well as clarifications about firearms.
    I think Resource officers, like the ones in Oregon, that stopped that shooting after 1 life was taken can help with school shootings. Understandably not all schools can afford a resource officer, so in rural areas, why not designate a concealed carry option to the teachers who prove they can A.) carry a weapon responsibly, and B.) want to take on that responsibility? The same laws that apply to regular conceal carry citizens could be applied, OR you could even make the laws more stringent and tougher since the people carrying will be around children.

    This is a tricky one. I don’t think you ultimately have a choice but to accept that evil exists in this world and it will wreak havoc until the day the world is no more. The gun control ideas that have been brought to light would work in a world where there were not millions and millions of firearms already in circulation. The simple truth is that we already have an insane amount of firearms that aren’t even on the record books and we see in many of these mass shootings that the laws were not followed in obtaining the firearm used to commit the crime. How would registration or further regulation change a situation like that? Furthermore, some of the most controlled areas of the country when it comes to guns are having higher percentage rates of violence than areas that have allowed for more relaxed measures on gun control. So, my question in that situation would be why is Chicago seeing worse gun violence if gun control works? Or take New York, why are they in a similar situation?

    Here’s my take on the gun control debate. The ideas that are brought up to curb gun violence are not bad, but they apply to a world where millions of people are not already owning these guns, legally or illegally. I encourage you to walk through the process of buying a gun (you don’t have to of course). It is not as simple as you made it sound in this post. I am a concealed carry permit holder and am licensed to purchase handguns as well as other firearms but I had to go through a rather tedious process to obtain these things. I attended an 8 hour class where a certified instructor, police officer, went over the specifics of self defense, operating a firearm, and the legalities that come into play with firearms. We then had to pass a course showing we could accurately shoot the firearm and properly handle it before the officer signed off. After that I had to go to the state patrol’s office and get my fingerprints taken, have my photo taken, and fill out all the forms for obtaining the concealed carry permit. Then I waited about 90 days before it came in the mail. This was not a simple process and required, in my opinion, the necessary steps that someone should take before being permitted to carry a concealed weapon. This is obviously a little more rigorous process than the license to get a handgun but that is no cakewalk either. You must first get a certificate from the local county sheriff’s office to purchase a handgun. They perform a background check there and then will tell you whether or not you are able to purchase. Then the store, FFL dealer, additionally will perform a background check to ensure you haven’t had any legal issues since the certificate was issued from the sheriff when you go to purchase the firearm. Does this seem like an easy process to obtain a firearm to you? Does it seem like they’re handing out firearm permits without checking who the person is?

    I don’t doubt your feelings for wanting to end the violence are well placed. You just want to see the violence end and people to get along. This is an agreeable thing, as the shootings must come to an end, no doubt! The way we get there however is something we won’t be able to agree on. As practiced in other countries, the rate of violence only has gone up when the guns are taken away from the law abiding citizens that protect those who cannot protect themselves from evil. I’ll give you an example that, while horrifying, is a perfect example of why a law abiding citizen should absolutely be able to defend themselves;

    a rather disgusting video and troubling incident. In that situation, nothing can be done to stop this man. He’s a giant human being and physically, unless this woman is trained in martial arts by Jet Li, he will undoubtedly inflict some serious pain on her! What other option does she have to defend herself? A gun is the only equalizer in that case. It doesn’t sound like you’re against personal defense, such as that, but there are definitely talking heads on the far left side that insinuate that this is something only police and military should have access to. The police could have done nothing to stop that from happening, unless miraculously they happened to see the man breaking in.

    Lastly, the comment on a military state. I’ve gathered from your blogs that this is something you kind of laugh off, insinuating that this is very far out thinking. While it would seem silly, and far fetched, do we not have anything in the history books that makes you just a wee bit nervous of this? You don’t suppose that there have been people like you and me that never thought of this happening before it was too late? I believe the founding fathers drafted this amendment because they knew that eventual power would lead to corruption. Need we look any further back then the past 20 years to see the lifetime politicians building this monolith federal leviathan? Whether you’re right or left, you should be able to see the good ole boys and the damages they’ve been doing to strip the citizenry of their liberties. The same liberties that allow for you and I to have this discussion freely is something that I think our founding fathers valued enough to sacrifice all that they did and I think being aware of that and always being watchful of rules that take away from these freedoms is vital to ensure our liberties stay intact. I don’t know, I hope I’m wrong about the direction of the all intrusive big brother, but there sure are a lot of red flags. I watched Star Wars with my kiddo for the first time in a long, long time a couple weeks ago and I could not believe how often I was comparing current day politics to what I was watching. I’m telling you, if emergency powers ever are granted to ANY president I’m going to build a massive bomb shelter and live my days out in a shell 🙂

    Take care,

  2. Destroy all guns that aren’t single shot muskets. Better yet bring back swords and encourage the populace to wear them daily. We could use more duels these days.

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