When I was an aspiring adult, I dreamt of becoming a United States Marine, and I adopted a mindset of loving my country. My heroes were Corporal Flynn Taggart, Juan Rico, Major Payne, Carlos Hathcock, Ellen Ripley, and the many warriors I read about in books like “Blood on the Risers,” “Doom: Knee Deep in the Dead,” “Starship Troopers,” or “One Shot: One Kill.” As a Marine I gained a healthy respect for what an M-16 (and the civilian equivalent) are capable of. I’m under no illusions that the AR-15 is a weapon. I’ve stated as much in previous posts here on Minds.com.
And in my mind, that is the point of the second amendment. At no point does it mention hunting or legitimate sporting purposes. At no point is there any doubt what the founders meant when they penned the words contained within. Arms, being both the armor and weapons of war, were the thing the people were allowed to possess, not by permission, but because they have an intrinsic right to them. Just like the right to profess their beliefs, or petition the government for a redress of grievances, or to be secure in their person and property is considered part and parcel of being a human, so too is the right to own the means to enact violence on their behalf. In the natural world, there is no greater authority than that of force. We elect others to enact force, through violence, on our behalf. We entrust people, uniformed in the blue of the peace officer, the mottled colors of the armed forces, or the tailored suits of high office, to decide when and where to apply that force. We agree to the terms so long as that force is used sparingly, and only on our behalf and in accordance with the social contract laid forth by the laws of our lands.
The allowance was not granted by the founders, and they never assumed this honor. They instead, left this honor to nature, and merely protected what was already a part of the natural order. I look at my children, growing and learning, and wonder what world I will leave them. I ponder often the potential realities that my children will face when they reach majority, and I ponder further what tools they will possess to meet those challenges. My heart aches for the world we may leave them, and this drives me to consider with great thought the repercussions of the decisions made by those who purport to lead us.
It is in that spirit of protecting the natural rights of every man and woman, in keeping with my oath to support and defend the constitution, and by simple extension the rights of my fellow human beings, that I take on the manifesto of the editorial staff of the Parkland Eagle Eye. While I will strive to ensure my arguments are sound, and to the point at hand, I will not belittle their position by “pulling punches.” This manifesto is placed in the public sphere, wherein it may be debated by all voices for and against. In this manner, it is my hope that I can bring the side I represent to the argument, and hopefully bring the argument forward.
From here on, their manifesto will remain in regular font, with their points underlined to aid in ease of reading. My responses will be in bold. Read to the end- I actually agree with some of their ideas.
Parkland students guest edit Guardian US
Our manifesto to fix America's gun laws
After the massacre at our high school, our lives have changed forever – so we’re proposing these changes to halt mass shootings
by Editorial staff of the Eagle Eye
As a student publication, the Eagle Eye works to tell the stories of those who do not have a voice. Today, we are the ones who feel our voice must be elevated.
In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at our school on 14 February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, our lives have changed beyond what we ever imagined. We, along with our publication, have been transformed. We will remain so for the rest of our lives.
We have a unique platform not only as student journalists, but also as survivors of a mass shooting. We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce. We cannot stand idly by as the country continues to be infected by a plague of gun violence that seeps into community after community, and does irreparable damage to the hearts and minds of the American people.
I agree that what you went through was something that no child should ever have to go through, yet your experience, while shocking and terrible, isn’t unique. The events that played out that day aren’t even unique to this nation. Innocent peoples across the globe suffer every day at the hands of evil people. Women and children are the victims of crimes too low to mention in the good company of youth, suffice to say that mass murder is something that we, as a species, must contend with. This isn’t to say that we have to just accept that it will happen, but we must be reasonable in our responses to such events and the manner in which we try and prevent them.
That’s why the Eagle Eye has come together and proposed these following changes to gun policy. We believe federal and state governments must put these in place to ensure that mass shootings and gun violence cease to be a staple of American culture.
Mass shootings and gun violence are not a staple of American Culture any more than gassing Jews and invading Poland is a staple of German Culture. They are terrible, yes. But a staple of the American Culture? No. You are confusing the issue and poisoning the well. By insinuating that gun violence and mass shootings are part of the cultural fabric of this nation, you are saying that American Culture is inherently violent. We, as a people, are not inherently violent. If “gun violence” were a staple of the American culture, then what happened at your school would be as welcome to the average American as a grilled hamburger on the fourth of July. No one was celebrating what happened at your school that day.
We will be marching this Saturday, 24 March, for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.
The changes we propose:
Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
Are there any semi-automatic weapons that don’t fire high velocity rounds? What constitutes “high velocity” when we are talking about projectiles that move in excess of 1,000 feet per second? Is there a semi-automatic weapon that you would be ok with the people owning?
Civilians shouldn’t have access to the same weapons that soldiers do. That’s a gross misuse of the second amendment.
Wrong. But continue.
These weapons were designed for dealing death: not to animals or targets, but to other human beings. The fact that they can be bought by the public does not promote domestic tranquility. Rather, their availability puts us into the kind of danger faced by men and women trapped in war zones.
"A well educated electorate, being necessary to the security of a free society, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed." What does this mean? I ask because this is vital to our understanding of the amendment you wish to remove from our society. Are books, according to this revision, a right of society, or a right of the individual? Can a person, according to the reading of this sentence, have books in their home to read and ponder at their leisure? Or must the books be retained within a library, to be read only in strictly controlled and regulated situations prescribed by law?
The second amendment to the constitution protects and individual right to “keep and bear arms.” But why? Why is this an individual right? Let’s look again at the opening clause to the right, “A well regulated Militia.” A militia is an armed body of people raised from the average citizens, and these forces predate our own country by hundreds of years. The Hoplite forces of ancient Greece were organized in a similar fashion, as were the diffent forces that stood ready to defend England. Militias have never been front line forces, and were never meant to be.
Being “well regulated” in the military sense of the word doesn’t mean “restricted in capacity,” but rather “organized and trained.” The intentions of this portion of the amendment is to make clear that the militia was to be organized, equipped, and trained, not have their arms restricted. If a militia is to serve its purpose, it must be equipped, organized, and trained to do the duties of a militia. The second clause, “being necessary to the security of a free state,” gives the reason for the “well regulated Militia” to exist- to secure the freedom of the people. Third clause, “the right of the people to KEEP and BEAR ARMS.” This is the part you have confused. Dictionary time.
Keep: Have or retain possession of, “the recruit was allowed to keep pictures in their money valuable bag.”
Bear: To carry on you person, “They came bearing a tray of tasty treats.”
Arms: Weapons and ammunition, armaments, “The AR-15 is an armament.”
Follow the sentence. “Keep and bear arms” literally translates to “possess and carry about their person weapons.” The founders envisioned an armed populace that could protect itself from external and internal threats up to and including their own government. The constitution mentions the role of the militia, “to suppress insurrection and repel invasion.” We know this due to the bounty of literature they left behind stating the fact. Even the preamble to the Declaration of Independence makes reference to such an idea, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The final clause places the restrictions on the people, and that restriction is “shall not be infringed.” Actually, it places a restriction on the government elected by the people by stating, in plain terms, that the government cannot restrict the rights of the people to own and carry weapons. Just like the government is restricted in its capacity to restrict our ability to speak our mind or profess our faiths. Just like they are limited in their ability to knock down your door and take your stuff, or house soldiers in your home. The second amendment is meant to protect you from those leaders like Hitler and Stalin and Mao.
This situation reflects a failure of our government. It must be corrected to ensure the safety of those guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If you read the BoR, and the Declaration, and the various articles of the laws of the land, and the various writings of those who influenced the birth of this nation, you’d see that in restricting the rights of the people to keep and bear arms, the government has failed its mandate. Time and again, those who wish to retain the capacity for enacting force on their own behalf have made sacrifices at every turn. There are more than enough laws and restrictions already in place. There is no need for any more. And I must enquire- how do you propose to get the weapons out of the hands of the people in the first place?
There are anywhere from 300-600 MILLION weapons owned by something like a third of the people in this country. If we go off a number of 80 million people owning arms, and allow that 1% are willing to go to war over the second amendment (not too farfetched given that the Revolutionary War began with attempted arms confiscation), that leaves 800,000 people who are armed and ready to fight. There are only about 300,000 law enforcement in the country, and only about that many trigger pullers in the military. A war of that scale would destroy this nation whole sale. And that’s if every cop and soldier sided with you. They won’t. Not all of them.
Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons
High-capacity magazines played a huge role in the shooting at our school. In only 10 minutes, 17 people were killed, and 17 others were injured. This is unacceptable.
I agree. The shooter had way too much time. Faster response times would have lessened the damage that he did. But even with a pump action shotgun, he could have done that amount of damage in that time- maybe more. It wasn’t the weapon that allowed him to be so effective, it was a target rich environment and ample time to operate. The night club shooter had the same advantages that the shooter at your school had- time. Take away their time, take away their ability to do damage.
That’s why we believe that bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories that simulate the effect of military-grade automatic weapons should be banned.
I think “bump stocks” are stupid, because I understand what full auto means. They’re a fad item for people who like to shoot fast, and lack the skills necessary to do so effectively. Magazines don’t simulate full auto fire, but rather hold ammunition for the arm in question. I must ask, what constitutes a “high capacity” magazine? Ten rounds? Fifteen? Thirty? Five hundred? The standard capacity for the M-16 (the military version of the AR-15) is thirty rounds. So by that definition 30 rounds is the standard, and anything greater is a “high capacity” magazine. But with regards to automatic weapons, the standard drum size for an M-249 squad automatic weapons is two hundred rounds. So, anything bigger than that is “high capacity.”
Do you see what I mean? You have failed to define terms, and left that to me- the professional in this argument. I’m going to assume, for the sake of argument, that you mean the standard capacity thirty round detachable box magazine. But even here, I think you are wrong. If, at any time, the Militia (that means, the people) have to fight a war alongside the forces that defend our nation, there must be a means to resupply both directions. Minutemen and women may find themselves fighting alongside regular forces. The need for commonality between the two is crucial to the effective implementation of the Militia. These are things that you haven’t learned or been exposed to.
And if we take an aggregate of all the people killed by firearms last year, most were killed by handguns, and not “assault weapons.” In fact, rifles make up only about 3.3% of all firearms related homicides, and not all of those were via “assault weapons.” Going off of FBI data as of 2016, handguns are more of a threat than AR-15s. Even knives and blunt objects are more likely to kill than rifles.
In the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, 58 people were killed and 851 others were injured. The gunman’s use of bump stocks enabled vast numbers of people to be hurt while gathered in one of the most iconic cities in America. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere. That’s why action must be taken to take these accessories off the market.
Sure, he was able to spray into a crowd of thousands and kill 58. The Pulse nightclub shooter killed almost that many without the benefit of bump stocks- because he had time. Time matters. Imagine if a SWAT sniper had reacted to the Las Vegas shooter in seconds from distance- how many people would have been saved? It’s not about the weapons, but the time evil people have to do evil things.
And if you remove magazines from that market, how do your enforce that regulation? The same problem exists as with the arms themselves. For every rifle there are doubtless a hundred magazines in circulation. Let that sink in. An estimated two million AR-15’s are in private hands. That’s upwards of two hundred million magazines. And magazines aren’t hard to construct. A simple 3D printer can make one. Someone with the skills to form metal can make one. Cutting off production will not make them go away. There is no reasonable way to gather them up if people simply refuse to turn them in, and I can assure you there will be people who will refuse to turn them in.
Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks
We believe that there should be a database recording which guns are sold in the United States, to whom, and of what caliber and capacity they are.
This isn’t a good idea. First, compliance will be a very big problem. Second, you would literally play into the hands of the pro-second amendment groups who have been saying for YEARS that the end goal was a database for confiscation purposes. You would galvanize your opposition even more than you already are. This idea only works if people comply, and you have the same issues with compliance here that you do with fire arms and magazines.
Just as the department of motor vehicles has a database of license plates and car owners, the Department of Defense should have a database of gun serial numbers and gun owners. This data should be paired with infractions of gun laws, past criminal offenses and the status of the gun owner’s mental health and physical capability.
Together with universal background checks, this system would help law enforcement stop a potentially dangerous person before they commit a gun crime.
FYI, the shooter of your school was a known quantity to the FBI and local law enforcement. This pre-crime idea won’t work. It already failed and the murdering psycho that attacked your school literally stated he was going to do it BEFORE he did it. Just like that database of car owners and cars stops drunk driving incidents (or those who have lost their license from driving). And how will you predict who is going to be a problem? You can’t.
Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
This I can agree with. Yes, there should be more communication between the two, but the level of communication and what is communicated is important. There is a slippery slope argument that can be made with regards to the undue restriction of a person’s rights based solely on the beliefs of a mental health worker. They, too, are fallible, and can make bad choices. And there is the valid argument that allowing this kind of communication between mental healthcare providers and the police to restrict someone’s ability to own a weapon may cause some people to avoid getting help.
As seen in the tragedy at our school, poor communication between mental healthcare providers and law enforcement may have contributed to a disturbed person with murderous tendencies and intentions entering a school and gunning down 17 people in cold blood.
We must improve this channel of communication. To do so, privacy laws should be amended. That will allow us to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or to others from purchasing firearms. That could help prevent tragedies such as the Parkland massacre.
How would those laws be amended? Again, details matter. You also stated, "may have contributed," meaning that the mental state of a person may not be a viable reason to suspend a protected right. Would there be a warrant system put into place? Would mental healthcare workers be mandated to report everything and law enforcement left to make the call? Would there be a means for the person in question to petition for a redress of grievances? Would the people making the decision do so in secret ala the FISA courts? What you propose is very vague, and it is this vagueness that I take issue with. These are people’s rights you are talking about potentially removing. That deserves delicate handling, and extreme care.
Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes
Thanks to loopholes, people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy firearms are able to purchase them at gun shows and secondhand sales. The existence of these loopholes reflects the ineptitude of state and federal legislators.
The Gunshow loophole is a myth. You can’t buy firearms online and just have them sent to your doorstep. In both examples, you MUST go through an FFL and there WILL be a NICS check performed. I've purchased firearms in both ways- a background check was undertaken (twice for me on the most recent, as I already passed an extensive background check to get a permit to carry, but that's a side point). With regards to person to person sales, that is much more tricky. First, how do you enforce it? A database? With upwards of 600,000,000 weapons in circulation, and no database, there is no way to enforce person to person sales. It’s already illegal for a felon to posses a weapon, yet felons still get them, just like it’s illegal to possess methamphetamine, but people still get it. Without infringing the rights of law abiding citizens, how do you make this work?
Do you change the rights? If you do that, does that mean that all our rights are decided by men, and therefore able to be restricted by men? Would that mean that healthcare, the right to free speech, and the right to your bodily autonomy are granted by laws, and not an intrinsic part of your being? Food for thought.
If we are serious about preventing people from purchasing deadly weapons, we must monitor sales that take place at gun shows and on secondhand markets. This is especially urgent given the danger posed by mentally unstable and violent individuals armed with firearms.
See my points above.
Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be allowed to conduct research on the dangers of gun violence. The fact that they are currently prohibited from doing so undermines the first amendment. It also violates the rights of the American people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a government organization. Preventing them from doing something isn’t a first amendment issue. The government isn’t protected by the first amendment- it’s restricted by the first amendment. I agree that research should be conducted, but I am dubious about the objectivity of the research in question, or the means that would be used to conduct said research. The government doing research with the aim to restrict a right is the antithesis of what our government is supposed to be doing in the first place.
It is hypocritical to rally people to protect the second amendment, while remaining silent on the ways that blocking research violates one of our most basic constitutional freedoms.
It’s hypocritical to insinuate that preventing the government from restricting a constitutionally protected right while saying that doing so is violating a constitutionally protected right. You haven’t thought this all the way through. Again, I agree that research can and should be done, but I believe that the research will be done with the end in mind rather than an aim to find the truth. The case can be made that firearms actually save more lives than they take each year, and that many of those instances go unreported. Would those considerations be taken into account when the research was done?Given a recent interview with the head of the CDC on NPR (a bastion of unbiased reporting if ever there was one), I'm not sure that would be the case.
Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
In a few months from now, many of us will be turning 18. We will not be able to drink; we will not be able to rent a car. Most of us will still be living with our parents. We will not be able to purchase a handgun. And yet, we will be able to purchase an AR-15.
You will also be able to enlist, go to war, and die for your country, vote, smoke, manage your affairs, purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, open a bank account, travel overseas by yourself, be tried as an adult, and be old enough to consent. If you can do all that, why can’t you own a weapon?
Why is it that we will be able to legally obtain a weapon that has the ability to fire over 150 rounds and kill 17 people in about six minutes? That is unacceptable. It makes no sense that to buy a handgun, you have to be 21, but a gun of mass destruction and devastation like the AR-15 can be purchased when one is just becoming an adult.
I think the age to purchase a handgun is kinda dumb myself. Why should a single mom be deprived the ability to defend herself and her child from unwanted attack just because she is 19?
With the exception of those who are serving the United States in the military, the age to obtain any firearm must be raised to 21.
If we are to raise the age to own a rifle, the principle arm of the Militia, and thereby the people, if you want to delay the ability of the individual to exercise their right to force to protect themselves from an unhinged and tyrannical government, than I counter that we should raise the age to vote to 21 as well. If a person can’t be trusted to wield the tools of individual slaughter, than they shouldn’t be trusted to wield the most powerful tool a society has. Voting is political power as much as arms are political power. We should also raise the minimum age to enlist to 21 years of age, the age of majority to 21 years of age, and the minimum age of consent to 21 years of age.
Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals
Agreed. This is the root cause of these events, and we need to fund better research into the root causes of the bad apples. If we can find those indicators early, we can treat them early, and respect the individuals rights, and potentially prevent these things from happening.
Federal and state government should earmark more funds specifically for mental health services. Those with mental health issues, especially those who express aggressive, violent, suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts should have the opportunity to receive the help they need regardless of their economic status.
Again, I agree. Help people early before they do harm that ruins their lives and the lives of others.
Schools specifically should receive more funds in order to hire more psychologists and guidance counselors who can aid students suffering from PTSD, depression and other debilitating mental illnesses.
Many of those who commit mass shootings suffer from these kinds of illnesses. It is essential that more funds be dedicated to mental health research.
On all of this I agree, and I can get behind it all. This is a step in the right direction.
Increase funding for school security
We believe that schools should be given sufficient funds for school security and resource officers to protect and secure the entire campus. As a school of over 3,000 students, teachers and faculty, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school was only supplied funds to hire one on-campus armed resource officer by the state.
Why is it that we put armed guards in every armored truck full of cash, but not in every school full of children? I have always found this kind of retarded in a way. Children are this nation’s most valuable resource, yet we give them less security than money- something we literally print out of thin air. This idea or increasing security has serious merit. Put good guys with guns in vital places so that bad guys with guns have a harder time being evil. Like it. I’m on board.
Without backup, this officer’s hesitation proved to be disastrous and allowed for the senseless deaths of people who were killed on the third floor of the 1200 building.
His hesitation contributed to the killers increased time on target. Oddly, the shooter at your school had as much time on target as the Pulse Nigthclub shooter... Odd, when seconds count, help is minutes away. Yes, rapid response is crucial and in this instance would have helped immeasurably. I am currently talking to a software company to develop an application that would aid in decreasing response times, and I would like for this system to be free to EMS services and school districts across the country.Perhaps you could help get the word out, and help me make that a reality.
Though this idea has been proposed in the past, these funds should not be appropriated from the already scarce funding for public education. Governments should find resources to secure the millions of children that attend public schools without taking away from the quality of education that is offered at these institutions.
DHS would be a great place to start. I agree that the government, the ones who are supposed to protect our lives and our liberties, should foot the bill for added security at schools. That is the mandate of the government in the first place, and I would be willing to pay a little extra for that. It’s entirely constitutional, protects the rights of law abiding Americans, and respects our children for what they are- our most precious resource. The application that I mentioned above could be a method to help solve this problem, though it needs to be fleshed out and funded. Together, we can make that a reality. We hold different ideas about the root of the issue, but we both agree that securing the schools is important.
A few things I would add to this, if I may be so bold, is that we should stop glorifying the shooters. They should get bare bones reporting. They should get a speedy trial, and then disappear from the public spotlight. Giving them a voice beyond what they can do themselves through massive media coverage isn't helping. We should also, perhaps, get off our phones and pay attention to one another again, and maybe make cell phone ownership an age restricted privilege. There is no reason a kid under 18 needs a smart phone. Kids need to be able to get away from their friends, and their enemies. Maybe we should promote families again, and ensure that kids have parents when they get home to vent to and get advice from. These things might reduce instances of the attacks we have seen. Rather than attacking inanimate tools, and demonizing millions of law abiding. compassionate people for wishing to own these tools, why not figure out ways to prevent bad guys from even happening?
Maybe the real answer isn't getting rid of civilian ownership of arms, maybe it's living the ideal of "all lives matter." When someone is in pain, alone, belittled, or otherwise in duress, perhaps we should just walk up, and with actual compassion and conviction ask, "How can I help?" I think that would go a lot farther toward preventing violence in society than banning an entire class of tool.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me hear your thoughts below.