In Rich Moniak’s piece “The Second Amendment has limits” published on Feb. 20, Mr. Moniak refers the shootings in Connecticut and to ‘military style assault guns’ that he states Congress should ban because ‘they’re not hunting weapons” and “the vast majority of Americans don’t think they’re needed for self defense.”
Mr. Moniak does not cite his sources for those statements, but the vast majority of Americans were at one time in favor of slavery.
Should peoples’ rights be subject to the whim of popular sentiment? I don’t believe they should. Also, no evidence has been released to the public about the tragic crimes in Connecticut. No evidence has been presented that ‘military style assault guns,’ as Moniak puts it, were used in those senseless killings.
Interestingly, Mr. Moniak wonders “which category do military style assault guns fall into?” It’s understandable that he should wonder, because his phrase: ‘military style assault guns’ is a contradiction and confusion of words.
Webster’s New World Dictionary’s primary definition of “gun” is “a heavy weapon with a relatively long barrel fixed on a mount, as a cannon or machine gun.” The Second Amendment reads: “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.” By bear, means to carry as an individual, which lets out a heavy machine gun or cannon. So, presumably, Mr. Moniak meant to say “military style assault rifle.” But that is still a confusing term, as an assault rifle is defined as a rifle or light machine gun capable of fully automatic fire (Small Arms of the World, Smith & Smith, 1969).
Assault rifles include the AK-47 and M16, the standard U.S. military service rifle. Semiautomatic civilian versions of these firearms, such as the AR-15, are not assault rifles, and they are what is being targeted in proposed federal gun confiscation legislation.
Moniak’s phrase is thus further trimmed by the facts to “military style rifle.” If “style” is the criteria by which something could be banned, each of us could come up with many things we would like to see prohibited. However, nothing in the Constitution permits the federal government or any state from banning ownership of a product based on its style, just as nothing in the Constitution permits limits to be placed on the Second Amendment.
The framers realized the importance of the Second Amendment, as they listed it right after free speech, because if we don’t have the Second Amendment, we could lose all of our other rights. Weakening the foundation our freedoms are built on will not bring us safety. We should examine the root causes of violence in America and start vigorously prosecuting criminals who use firearms in crimes, rather than demonizing and criminalizing law abiding firearms owners who stand ready to protect our security and liberty. Legislators who trust in the honesty, decency and patriotism of the American people would never support bills that will weaken the Second Amendment and treat the entire population as violent felons.
• Rafferty is a Juneau resident.