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Frank Watson: Some limits needed on firearms, but let’s not take it too far

By Frank Watson

By Frank Watson

When I joined the military many years ago, I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. All federal officers, members of congress and the President of the United States make the same solemn promise before God. The demonstrations demanding gun control legislation are an attack on the Constitution, and place the basic foundation of our system of law at risk.

Make no mistake. I consider the recent shootings in Texas an utter tragedy. I have heard the statistics of mass shootings across America and find them senseless and deplorable. I hear the speeches of our elected officials and agree the violence needs to stop. Most, if not all of what I hear, however, is empty rhetoric. They express outrage but offer no real solution. I agree with the President when he says, “No 18-year-old should be allowed to walk into a store and buy an assault rifle.” Would it have mattered if the shooter was 19, or even 35? No one should walk into a store, buy any weapon and shoot nineteen kids with it. No one – with any weapon. What is an assault rifle anyway? By some definitions the old 22 rimfire I used to hunt rabbits when I was a kid would qualify. No one knows the definition of an assault rifle. No one should be allowed to shoot nineteen children with any weapon. None. Back off the inflammatory rhetoric. It inflames the gun nuts as well as the extreme antis.

During a recent speech our President said we should enact laws against “assault rifles” and require background checks to purchase any type of gun. That statement is an attack on the Constitution. The Second Amendment says “our right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Supreme Court may or may not favor gun control, but the law says citizens of these United States have a right to own and carry them, and the Court has ruled accordingly.

I agree with the president when he says reasonable people would accept some limits on the ownership firearms. Rather than trying to circumvent our system of law, however, he should work within it. Any gun control legislation requires a new constitutional amendment. I once had a conversation with a very good friend who advocated gun control. I suggested she demonstrate for an amendment and she responded, “It is too hard to amend the Constitution.” It is supposed to be hard. Our founding fathers didn’t plan for us to change our basic law with each new social trend. It is supposed to be hard. But maybe, just maybe, technology has produced guns with capabilities far beyond what our forefathers imagined.

We are a reasonable nation. I think we would accept some limits on the ownership of firearms. The president should tone down the inflammatory political speeches and use his bully pulpit to support a bipartisan effort to draft a workable amendment. It won’t be easy, and the result won’t be perfect; but if it needs to be done, it can be.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and long-time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a freelance columnist for over 20 years.