To the Editor:
I respond to Monique Weston of Keene, whose letter to the editor in the March 30 edition of the Valley News generally supports the SAFE ACT. I would suggest that although the SAFE ACT does contain some good requirements regarding harsher provisions for armed criminals, and on those merits does not justify “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, the strongest reason for repeal of the SAFE ACT is on the principle that due process was not followed in its passage.
Any law, popular or not, justified or not, must not be allowed to stand when the democratic process is ignored and the law is passed without a thorough discussion of its merits and/or shortcomings. It is a very dangerous precedent to have been set if the SAFE ACT is not repealed and replaced with a law that has been enacted after due process.
Gov. Cuomo’s emotional remarks before passage of the SAFE ACT, about no one needing “10 bullets to kill a deer,” and “no one uses ‘assault rifles’ for hunting,” show that he has no idea what gun ownership is about. The Second Amendment was not written for hunting. It was not written even for defense of person, family, and personal property. These are secondary to the overarching purpose of guaranteeing that the people would have the right to secure their freedom from the unjust oppression of a tyrannical government.
Are “military style” weapons not covered under the Second Amendment? A look at the historical events which led to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution will shed light on this. Remember that the Colonists before the Revolutionary War were British subjects. Their own government used its military forces to invade people’s homes, confiscate firearms and other goods and plunder, abuse the human rights of the Colonists, and enforce unfair taxation. The Colonists formed militias and rose up in rebellion against their government with their own weapons, which in that day were single shot muzzle loading weapons. But the British armed forces were equipped with the same weapons. The weapons technology was the same on both sides of the battlefield! I repeat, the weapons technology was the same on both sides of the battlefield. It must remain so today.
On the topic of whether the Second Amendment applies to the right to keep and bear “any weapons whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” I would agree that there are some limitations, but those limitations are established by the words “keep and bear,” in the Second Amendment. Those words mean “own and carry.” One cannot carry a tank, for example. Therefore one may not own a tank.
The non-specific nature of the Second Amendment is its beauty and power to last down through the ages. It guarantees that the people must be allowed to own and carry weapons at least equal to those of the government’s armed forces. Why? Because when well trained as a militia, the people, having equal firepower, may have a fair chance to be successful in rising up against the armed forces of an unjust government, and by doing so, secure once again the right to live in a free state.
I pray it will never be necessary, but if we allow our politicians to continue playing fast and loose with our Constitution and abuse due process of law, another Revolutionary War may be inevitable. It is a true saying that if we don’t learn from history we are bound to repeat it.
Don Mauer, Piercefield