The reason the Founders enshrined the Second Amendment in the Constitution was because they understood that the inherent dignity and worth of the individual person expressed itself in the concepts of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The two concepts are inextricably intertwined.
Two inherent parts of Life and Liberty are security and the right of self-defense. We are endowed by our Creator with the desire for life, liberty and freedom. Safety and security are necessary preconditions for both, therefore, we have the inherent right to hunt for sport and for food, and most importantly, to defend ourselves in the case of attack, a threat to ourselves, or to our family or property. The surest way of accomplishing this is to acknowledge, uphold and enforce the inalienable right that individuals have the right bear arms, by guaranteeing it in the Constitution.
In America, the most common expression of this fundamental human right is gun ownership, and although they represent a small percentage of guns overall, sporting rifles (or as the alarmist media labels them, “assault rifles”) are a popular choice for enthusiasts, sport shooters, and responsible gun owners. One of the most popular iterations of the American sporting rifle is the AR-15.
There are approximately 4 million AR-15’s in circulation in the US. The rifle was used in 3 recent shootings. That means that the other 3,999,997 were used for purposes other than mass shootings. Sporting or “Assault” rifles (real “assault rifles” are restricted to military use and no versions authorized for unrestricted civilian use exist) represent a tiny slice of the more than 300 million guns in circulation in the US.
A person who says “I can’t fathom someone’s need for those assault rifles,” has clearly forgotten that they are not someone else. Your need is not theirs. Your concept of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is not the same as theirs. Who are you to decide what “they need”? Or, whether that “need” is legitimate? Their right to self-defense trumps your fear of their liberty. Additionally, in terms of potential outcomes, your argument functionally becomes a slippery slope.
Suppose we “ban” all “assault rifles.” Let us further suppose that the guns are all confiscated, and no longer in public circulation. Let us further suppose that a subsequent mass shooting involves shotguns. Would those be banned next? It seems reasonable to conclude yes. Suppose instead that someone uses pistols, like the Virgina Tech shooter did (in his case, one of his guns used .22 caliber bullets – one of the smallest bullets available). Do we then ban all pistols, even those using small-caliber ammunition? One can easily see where this inexorably leads. The only logical answer would be to ban and confiscate ALL guns. Good luck knocking on doors across America, trying to confiscate 300+ million firearms.
Furthermore, confiscating every single gun in America would do nothing – NOTHING – to eliminate the problems we actually face in America, which are the dual crises of mental health in America, which is under-served and largely unaddressed and worsening, and the issue of radical Islam and jihad. If we truly wish to end the epidemic of gun violence manifesting as mass shootings, we must address both of these crises in aggressive, solution-driven ways.
The problem is not guns, but damaged people and damaging ideas.