A thought popped into my head when I read an article on CNN.com about people hoarding ammunition in the United States. The thought was: do you really need that Kalashnikov?
Yes, there is nothing in the article about AK-47 ammunition, but the same proponents for the Second Amendment would be the first to say you have the right to own a AK-47. Indeed, the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights states:
"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." (Courtesy of the US Archives Online)
So, yes, it does say that the right to keep and bear arms are not to be infringed by the government. But the first part of this sentence is also very key and requires an understanding of the historical context.
*Insert time machine travel type noise from Dr. Who* In the 18th century, there was no permanent, large standing Army (except for the British Army) that exists in our contemporary epoch. In fact, the Founding Fathers were not very wild about the idea of creating and maintaining a large permanent professional army, based on their experiences during the imposition of British power on the North American continent in the late 18th century. Therefore, as they were not interested in maintaining a large professional Army (and Navy), it was felt that the idea of state militias, which were a well established part of each state would provide the basic defense for the United States.
Until the growth of a larger professional Army in the United States after the American Civil War, the state militia system was the pool of manpower that the government would call up in order for the defense of the nation. The American Civil War is written by the exploits of several state militias battling on the killing fields, from Fredricksburg to Shiloh to Chancellorsville to Gettysburg to Cold Harbor (albiet, these militias were called up for Federal service in the Militia Act of 1862 to fill the ranks of the Federal Army, but they were not part of a large standing professional Army).
The idea was that the pool of manpower that would fill the ranks of these militias would have to supply their own weapons when called up, as listed in the Militia Act of 1792. Therefore it was important for individuals to have the right to bear arms. The follow on Militia Acts of 1903 and National Defense Act of 1916 Federalized the state militias and placed them under the auspices of what would later become the Department of Defense...and removing the requirement for one to appear to drill with their own M-1 Garand, M-14, and now M-16 and 9MM and 100 rounds of ammunition.
So, why is it that people need to have military grade weapons? I'll be the first to admit that it's fun to pop off rounds from a machine gun (done during my time on active duty), why is it that private civilians need automatic weapons, .50 cal sniper rifles, machine guns and other military style ordinance in their own personal inventory? I'm not quite understanding that the right to bear arms based on 18th century realities actual equates to the right for one to own the before mentioned weapons.
This is not to say people should not be allowed to own handguns, hunting style rifles and shotguns. But my issue is with people needing an AK-47. There is no need to have such weapons since there are no requirements for civilians in the National Guard or even the State Guards to personally own those weapons as they are supplied those weapons by those organizations.
Of course, online, the quotes of Adolf Hitler espousing the importance of banning or having oversight for personal weapons is used to hammer the fear factor into people, raising the spooky spectre of the Nazi demon that murdered, imprisoned and plundered Europe from 1935-1945. Somehow I think that if the US government passed laws similar to the Enabling Act of 1933 or the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, then people should be worried...somehow limiting the production and dissemination of military grade weaponry does not fall under the government taking away your rights.
Case in point, why would it be possible for someone to get those machine guns robbers used in LA several years back that held a whole city in fear for a few hours.
Atop of that, in light of some of the public shootings, as one of my esteemed friends suggested that there be a thorough screening of people to ensure they are mentally stable, do not have suicidal tendencies or have a record of violence or criminal activity. What is to stop a guy who beats the shit out of his girlfriend or wife from using a gun the next time she "pisses" him off? What is to stop someone who is not mentally stable from going into a community college, murdering a classmate and then taking their own life? These are legitimate ideas and should be used in the process of someone looking to purchase a firearm. Why should we allow people who could be a danger to themselves and others to be allowed to simply stroll in, pay for a gun, wait three days and then pick up said weapon?
Even better, why should our modern civilization allow the before mentioned people have the ability to buy military grade automatic rifles, high powered sniper rifles, large caliber weapons and machine guns?
Do you really need that Kalashnikov?