Local column: First, enforce laws we have

Let’s enforce the laws already in place to help keep our children safe instead of threatening people’s right to self-defense, writes Joseph Sacco.

Here we are again. Another mass shooting and more hate and vitriol directed at law-abiding gun owners, the NRA, and the 2nd Amendment. Even as more and more evidence emerges that law enforcement failed to prevent a mass shooting in Florida, the narrative has remained focused on the gun. Why is that? Why are we as a nation not demanding the resignation of the Broward County Sheriff? Why are we not demanding answers from the FBI?

“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.” That is the entirety of the 2nd Amendment and yet it has caused a massive amount of division in our country. Understanding why the 2nd Amendment exists requires the examination of the time period when the Bill of Rights was ratified. The U.S. had just ended a war with Great Britain and it was understood that in order to prevent governmental tyranny, the populace must have the means to fight back against an oppressive government.

But the underlying principle behind the 2nd Amendment is the right to self-defense. The Founding Fathers were of the belief that this right, and others, were natural rights and that no government should have the ability to take those rights away. Therefore, the Bill of Rights was not written to give rights to citizens, but to protect the rights that the Founders believed that were bestowed from God.

Also, the phrase “shall not be infringed” does not appear in any other amendment. The Founders believed that an armed populace was the key to a free people. They knew that the country could never again be subjugated by a government not of their choosing.

District of Columbia v. Heller was an important case regarding the 2nd Amendment. In the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a ban of handguns and other regulations put into place in D.C. was unconstitutional. The most important part of the ruling was the Court deciding that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms for lawful use. It also said that bans on firearms in common use — in this case handguns, but would apply to the AR-15 — was unconstitutional.

There are many things that we as a country could do to reduce the threat of mass shootings. Banning firearms is not the answer. Neither is changing the age requirement for buying firearms. Why are we not treating our children, arguably our nation’s greatest treasure, in the same manner as our banks, politicians, or celebrities?

We must enforce the laws that we have on the books. We must be willing as a people to hold our law enforcement agencies accountable when they fail in the very jobs that we expect them to do. Evil will always exist in the world and there is no possible way to legislate it away. But there are steps we can take that do not involve violating the 2nd Amendment. Arm teachers, hire veterans or ex-police officers for security, put in metal detectors, do anything it takes to protect our children.


Sacco is a 9 year Navy veteran with an Undergraduate degree in Homeland Security and working on a Masters of Public Administration. Contact him on Twitter @saccjp.


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