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The Second Amendment and its importance

VINNY MARTINEZ, Guest columnist Staff
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:19 PM

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What happened in Aurora, Colo., is a great travesty and should never have happened. The perpetrator was well armed with recently purchased firearms and ammo and things could have been astronomically worse.

Our hearts go out to those families who lost their love ones and for those who were injured by this man who is apparently mentally deranged. Firearms in the wrong hands can kill no matter how many laws are on the books.

Owning firearms in America has been a very controversial subject because firearms are weapons that can kill, but also because owning firearms is an important constitutional right as is free speech. The Second Amendment is part of our nation's foundation to remain a free and sovereign nation.

Firearms owned by law abiding citizens are owned for sport, for collection and for personal protection against an adversary. Owners of firearms have a responsibility to store and use them in a safe environment and never carelessly. Firearms used illegally are used to commit crimes that often involves killing human beings. In either case, it takes a person to pull the trigger. As with any society, you have those that obey the laws and those that don't.

The State of Florida has firearms laws to protect its citizens. Firearm laws frequently change and the following summary may not reflect changes in the laws. Florida requires instant background checks on purchasers of firearms.

No licensed firearm dealer, manufacturer or importer shall sell or deliver any firearm to another person until he has obtained a completed form from the potential buyer or transferee and received approval from the Department of Law Enforcement by means of a toll-free telephone call.

Excluding weekends and legal holidays, there is a three-day waiting period to purchase a handgun from a retail establishment. Exempt from the waiting period are concealed weapons permit holders and those trading in another handgun.

Unless covered under the exceptions, it is unlawful to openly carry on or about the person any firearm, or to carry a concealed firearm on or about the person without a license. An application for a license to carry a handgun concealed is made to the Department of Agriculture.

Florida has mandatory sentence enhancements for any serious felony, such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary or robbery, committed with a firearm. The penalty is increased if a machine gun or a semiautomatic firearm with magazine capacity of more than 20 center-fire cartridges is possessed during a serious felony or narcotics offense.

The State of Florida respects the constitutional rights of its citizens and no state permit is required to possess or purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

The Founding Fathers gave us the U.S. Constitution to limit our government and to protect us from our government, if necessary. The Second Amendment is just not to protect deer hunters. Here are some of the thoughts the Founding Fathers had in mind in support of this idea of individual rights to bear arms:

Patrick Henry: "The great objective is that every man be armed. . . . Everyone who is able may have a gun."

George Mason: "To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

Samuel Adams: "The Constitution shall never be construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

Alexander Hamilton: "The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."

Richard Henry Lee: "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution 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."

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990), stated that the term "the people" has the same meaning in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and 10th Amendments.

All those five amendments in the Bill of Rights use the term "the people" to guarantee a right for individual citizens, not just some collective right of the state as a whole. There is no reason to believe that the Second Amendment uses the term "the people" differently from the other four amendments.

History has shown that the first thing dictators and tyrannical government do is to confiscate the people's arms. For instance, not too long ago, Adolf Hitler and his Nazis conducted a massive search-and-seizure operation in Germany to disarm their citizens and his political opponents.

After that he took their rights and their Constitution. Likewise, in Cuba, Raul and Fidel Castro had their Communist thugs go door to door and, using the registration lists, confiscate all firearms. As soon as the Cubans were disarmed, that was the end of their freedom.

The Constitution's Second Amendment offers broad protection for weapons ownership by civilians. As recently as 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed it when it struck down a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia, ruling that individuals have a constitutional right to keep guns for self-defense and other purposes (but not killing of innocent people).

So what is the point of all this. Every time there is a crazies or criminal that uses a firearm to commit a crime, advocates against guns want to take away from the good guys the right to own guns. But the problem is not the weapon, it is the person and their evil ways.

Criminals will commit the crimes regardless how many laws you have on the books. Existing gun control laws are sufficient to protect the citizens if they are properly enforced. Its unfortunate that existing gun laws do not seem to prevent crimes. It's a people problem, not a gun problem.

Every adult criminal was a child at one time, and maybe teaching and learning to care and to love one another is a start, and should begin with the family and then with the neighbors. Love is a decision and maybe having the Ten Commandments available to young children at an early age; maybe not committing abortions and killings of innocent babies, maybe not having violence and cruelty shown in the movies, maybe just being honest and respecting one another or maybe just respecting life itself. In God we trust – our national motto.

Vinny Martinez is a Brooksville resident.

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