Embracing the right to not get shot

Embracing the right to not get shot

The Constitution of the United States is a beautiful document not so much for its literary elegance but more for the ideals it embodies.  In short it is the heart, soul and character of a grand experiment that is still in progress.  As the next election cycle heats up it seems that there are a lot of purported experts on its contents using it to make the case for their candidacy.  The constitutional right of highest priority on the lips of so many running for office along this, the most conservative stretch of Old Route 66, is the one delineated in 2nd Amendment.  Seriously, to hear some of these pro-gun rights candidates you would think that the Constitution begins and ends with #2 out of twenty-seven.  What’s more, you would be amazed at the number of pro-gun candidates who could not recite the 2nd Amendment cold when called upon to do so.  Indeed, last year I shut down a City Council candidate who made the mainstay of his campaign the issue of open-carry (the right to openly carry firearms) in the city limits simply by asking him to recite the 2nd Amendment.  He laid an egg.  Last Friday evening while staffing the Tulsa County Democratic Party booth at the Tulsa State Fair a State House Tea Party candidate stopped by accompanied with a young person who said he was chairman of the Rogers County Young Republicans.  They wanted to know our position on gun rights and I told them I support the 2nd Amendment then I asked them to recite it.  Neither could.  Instead they proceeded to tell me it doesn’t matter if they know it as what mattered to them was their right to bear arms “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”  It mattered all in terms of my ability to take them seriously that they could not recite the following, especially if you are going to make it a mainstay of your platform:


Let it by duly noted that this exchange took place at the end of a week in which occurred the latest mass shooting.  The other volunteer with whom I was staffing the TCDP booth was an African American woman who has been robbed at gunpoint eight times.  She of course unloaded on them.  As a Navy veteran and Naval Reserve retiree, I stopped short of telling the young person to go enlist.  I don’t think I will be pulling that punch in the future given the photo I found on his Facebook page:


Yes, I am a Navy veteran and a retiree from the Naval Reserve.  During my time on active duty I was placed in a billet where I had to go to the range and become proficient with the automatic Colt pistol (ACP).  I even put enough holes in the paper target to earn a Marksman ribbon.  When you serve in the Armed Forces or are a member of any paramilitary organization like a police force or sheriff’s department proficiency with firearms goes with the territory.  As I stated to the two booth visitors above, I do in fact support the 2nd Amendment.  I also support the other twenty-six (less the eighteenth, of course).  The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed but it is not without limitation.  Advocating for reasonable limits on this sentiment to does not make you any more anti-2nd Amendment than advocating for reasonable safe speed limits in school zones make you anti-automobile.  You do not need a military arsenal for home or self defense.  The young Republican did not see it that way and could not tell me why he needed a military arsenal but only that it was his “right.”  Honestly, I always thought if you need more than one bullet to stop one asshole then you are doing it wrong, but I digress.

Image by DailyKos

Image by DailyKos

 In 2015 we find our nation deeply steeped in a culture of violence largely caused by the easy availability of firearms.  This culture has done its fair share of damage in my own life.  As my own personal history illustrates, you don’t have to be the one who pulls the trigger or the one who takes the bullet to have your life destroyed by a firearm.  Yes, during that aforementioned period of active duty, my first wife managed to find herself in a situation where she had a firearm and used it to even the score with an undesirable party, shooting them, killing them and subsequently going to jail and reducing my life and the lives of so many others to shambles.  For the record, I was half a continent away at the time.  I will also admit that was the beginning of much cognitive dissonance which ultimate led to my abandonment of what was then described as my conservative values.  Looking back on that personal crisis it validates what I now believe that results matter.  Even then though I did not own a personal firearm.  The weapon used in the above described crime was the property of someone in a different household and residence.  You don’t have to own a weapon to go to jail for using one.  Such has been the scar of my worst memory of dealing with a mess not of my own doing.


The phenomenon of mass shootings is not a new thing in America.  The USA simply holds the record for the number of occurrences dating back before 1950.  As the body count from mass shootings continue to rise, the number of citizens demanding answers is growing.  The question at issue is at what point does the right of the citizen to not be shot outweigh the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms?    Seriously, does an individual have a fundamental right to not get shot while sitting in church?  Honestly, it seems that even a church sanctuary has become a free-fire zone in light of the Charleston church shootings earlier this year and the Tennessee Valley UU shooting in 2008.   It has made me very cognizant of the potential for gun violence such that I find myself scoping out means of cover and exit when I am sitting in a church service.  The argument being pushed by the NRA leadership and lobby that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is hardly the end all to the problem as the photo below illustrates.

Photo courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety

Photo courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety

 The crisis of mass shootings in the USA is epidemic but that does not sway the pro-gun lobby or their candidates.  Even when credible studies demonstrate that the states with the most restrictive gun laws have fewer deaths than those with the most lax, no conservative candidate or elected official cares to address the issue or apply any definitive solution.  The only Presidential candidate who had a  booth at the TSF was Ben Carson.  However, even in light of the latest mass shooting the good doctor went on record stating, “I never saw a body with bullet holes what was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”  Again for the record, I have not heard any Democrat or liberal politician in elected or appointed office promote the overturning of the 2nd Amendment.  That said, the issue is NOT going away and the body count continues to rise.  It is truly a matter of national priorities.  How high will the body count go?  That will ultimately define the nation’s character more than any other privilege or “right.”

Thoughts and prayers are nice but they are not enough.



  1. Lisa Boyd
    Nov 11, 2015

    Remember the first part of the 2nd amendment, specifically the 2nd and 3rd word, our founders wanted gun safety.

  2. Carl
    Oct 8, 2015

    I’ve been thinking (uh-oh!) about this issue more lately, and I notice that my opinion regarding the 2nd Amendment has been slowly but surely changing over time, thanks to the number of mass killings that keeps occurring due to the astonishing numbers of guns in the US.

    This is where I am now: If, as the NRA and sympathizers state, ‘Guns don’t kill people – people kill people’ then what is really needed is not more gun control, it is more people control.

    And (imho) a good place to begin controlling people more would be through identifying and isolating those who have a propensity towards paranoia, violence and delusional thinking.
    (Like believing that the federal government is evil and can’t be trusted to safeguard our Constitutional rights.)

    This should be fairly easy to do, given that a significant number of NRA members, 2nd Amendment supporters, militia wannabe’s and others of that ilk all fit that criteria – and most stockpile large numbers of weapons and ammunition, which is easy to trace.

    INDUCED PSYCHOTIC DISORDER – The essential feature of this disorder is a delusional system that develops in a second person as a result of a close relationship with another person (the primary case) who already has a psychotic disorder with prominent delusions.

    The content of the delusion is usually within the realm of possibility, and often is based on common past experiences of the two people. Occasionally, bizarre delusions may be induced. Usually the primary person with the psychotic disorder is the dominant one in the relationship, and gradually imposes his or her delusional system on the more passive and initially healthy second person. (From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

  3. Route66Kid
    Oct 8, 2015

    Richard, I define “infringed” as it applies to the 2nd Amendment as a prohibition of keeping ANY and ALL firearms.

    I am not sure I understand your second question regarding the “need” requirement.

  4. Richard Newtn
    Oct 7, 2015

    Stan just wanted to ask a couple of questions : 1. What is your definition of “infringed” 2. Where does the “need” requirement show up in the constitution?

  5. Cunschmity
    Oct 7, 2015

    Excellent article. Points are well received.