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Citizens should give thanks for the Second Amendment

By Bryce Lambley

In the wake of Independence Day celebrations, it is a good time to reflect on the many positives of being an American and living in such a free country.

One of those things many Americans take for granted is the Constitution and all the personal freedoms it protects. As a part-time writer and a person rarely shy to express an opinion, the First Amendment and all it guarantees is of course dear to my heart.

Also important to me, though, is the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms. In plain language that means the law-abiding citizenry can own guns, much to the chagrin of liberal lawmakers like Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer.

Interpretation of what the framers of the Constitution meant has been hotly debated in the last half century, but I think most folks (and thankfully the current administration) believe the Founding Fathers felt a country where the average man was able to own and keep firearms, was a populace that would stand up for freedom and liberty should they be threatened, whether in their own homes or from enemies abroad.

In 1778, Samuel Adams of Massachusetts said Congress should not "infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."

Motivation for such thoughts may be represented in Thomas Paine's statement from 1775: "Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."

This would seem to be amazingly prophetic, as England, Wales and Australia have seen dramatic upswings in violent crime since its law-abiding citizenry were forced to turn in their handguns and certain other firearms. Those three countries now have the highest rates for crime of violence among the top 17 industrialized nations, according to the International Crime Victims Survey carried out by the Dutch.

They should have listened to what Thomas Jefferson said back in 1776 when he noted such laws forbidding the carrying of arms "disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Indeed the framer of the Second Amendment himself, James Madison, said that the entire Bill of Rights was "calculated to secure the personal rights of the people." I think it is abundantly clear that these leaders saw the right to own guns as an individual freedom, and not one limited only to standing militias.

I'm pleased that our Founding Fathers had the foresight to guarantee such a thing, and that we have the current leadership to guard against its erosion. With the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor, there will be some turnover in our Supreme Court. I hope that any newly-seated justices will continue to honor the framers' intent in the Second Amendment.

I'm confident President George W. Bush will nominate such individuals, and hopeful that good sense will carry the day in Congress.

http://www.fremontneb.com/articles/2005/07/07/sports/sports4.txt

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