The acts of terrorism and/or criminal attacks on multiple victims should never be used as an excuse to attack fundamental political and individual rights.
Mass murders occur throughout the world with explosives, motor vehicles, airplanes, knifes, poisons, chemicals, and firearms. Indeed, the last fifteen years have proven that our enemies have no shortage of ideas on horrific ways to kill innocent people.
This week a man, acting in isolation according to current government reports, assembled a collection of at least 23 firearms and 50 pounds of explosives. Whatever the full plans were, they do not appear to have been fully implemented. The point is, his plans including a vehicle, a massive amount of explosives, and firearms. It was not the civilian possession of these common items that was the proximate cause of the carnage. It was the criminal acts of evil that was the proximate cause of the injury and death.
Before the first body was buried, the left, the progressives, some Establishment Republicans and even the NRA were all calling for the government to take action to ban or at least review whether citizens should be able to make or purchase one of the items that the government reports was used in the criminal or potentially terrorist enterprise.
The items were not so dangerous that they independently resulted in the criminal acts. The criminal acts were a planned choice by an evil or mentally ill person to hurt others.
The Tennessee Firearms Association works to promote the full and uninfringed exercise of those rights which are protected by the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 26 of the State Constitution. Those constitutional restrictions on government regulation of civilian arms were intended to protect the nation, the states, and the political rights of the citizens to exercise those powers and options enumerated in the Declaration of Independent and reserved to the citizens in the Constitutions.
It is no happenstance or coincidence that the only item of personal property that the government is prohibited – specifically prohibited – from restricting from civilian ownership is “arms”. In the structure of our constitutional republic, our Founders realized that the defense of freedom and liberty required civilian ownership of arms. Our Founders knew that this nation would not have achieved liberty from England but for the civilian ownership and access to arms.
But what was meant by the term “arms”? The Tennessee Supreme Court as well as the United States Attorney General were in agreement on this for at least the first 150 years after the adoption of the 2nd Amendment. The US Attorney General stated in 1939 what “arms” meant and cited the Tennessee Supreme Court in doing so:
While some courts have said that the right to bear arms includes the right of the individual to have them for the protection of his person and property as well as the right of the people to bear them collectively (People v. Brown, 253 Mich. 537; State v. Duke, 42 Tex. 455), the cases are unanimous in holding that the term “arms” as used in constitutional provisions refers only to those weapons which are ordinarily used for military or public defense purposes and does not relate to those weapons which are commonly used by criminals. Thus in Aymette v. State, supra, it was said (p. 158):
As the object for which the right to keep and bear arms is secured, is of general and public nature, to be exercised by the people in a body, for their common defence, so the arms, the right to keep which is secured, are such as are usually employed in civilized warfare, and that constitute the ordinary military equipment. If the citizens have these arms in their hands, they are prepared in the best possible manner to repel any encroachments upon their rights by those in authority. They need not, for such a purpose, the use of those weapons which are usually employed in private broils, and which are efficient only in the hands of the robber and the assassin. These weapons would be useless in war. They could not be employed advantageously in the common defence of the citizens. The right to keep and bear them, is not, therefore, secured by the constitution.
But since that time, the true constitutional meaning of “arms” has been resisted by government. Current state and federal laws, which did not exist prior to 1934, now heavily regulate, likely to the point of constitutional infringement, the manufacture, commerce, use and ownership of firearms. State and federal laws place severe penalties on illegal possession, manufacture, commerce or use of firearms. Certain firearms, like machine guns, are still perfectly legal to own in Tennessee for many purposes including sporting, recreational and as investments so long as federal registrations are filed and federal taxes are paid on the item.
While some are wondering whether additional laws or bans on a device which appears to have only been used once to commit a mass crime, there is no credible evidence that any of the other perceived “necessary” bans on firearms or accessories, like high capacity magazines, have ever had such an effect on crime or public safety.
The only thing such an anti-gun movement actual yields, as did its predecessors, is an incremental erosion of the rights that are both recognized and protected by the 2nd Amendment. Such a false promise of increased public safety exists only in the vain and futile hope that if we accept this “reasonable” change that a mass homicide or terrorist act like this will never recur. It’s a false promise because the problem is not the device … it’s the individual.
But for those who believe that the constitutions are the bedrock on which this nation and these states exist in the hope of liberty, the calls of some to ban or restrict ownership to the categories of “arms” that are expressly protected by the 2nd Amendment proves only that those advocating such restrictions either do not comprehend or they do not truly believe in the original purpose of the 2nd Amendment’s inclusion in the Bill of Rights.