American Rhetoric: The War Within


“Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war”
(Antony, from William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, Act 3, Scene 1. Circa 1601.)

     (Part two in this series on the Gun Control debate. Part one can be read here.)

     There is a war being fought within the borders of this nation. It’s a protracted conflict between two diametrically opposed forces; the law-abiding citizenry, and violent criminals with little to no regard for the sanctity or value of a life. There are several things driving this conflict; addiction, greed, desperation, poverty and disadvantage being among the impetuses. As long as there is crime, there needs to be some way to effectively counter it. Sure, there is law enforcement, however in this second decade of the 21st century, economic downturns have resulted in a decrease in manpower and a corresponding increase in police response times. When an armed assailant attacks and seconds count, the ability of the citizenry to keep and bear arms can often make the difference between life and death.

     I have a friendly acquaintance who owns and operates a pharmacy in my small hometown of Madera, California. Brian Lee and his mother Sophia were working in their family-owned pharmacy one particular evening, back in early January of this year, when two armed men entered through the rear door of the business. These two men did not say word one; they didn’t ask any questions or make any demands. They simply began shooting. The one detail note that they failed to consider, was that Brian also owned a gun. In the moments that followed, Brian was able to retrieve his gun from behind the counter and return fire, forcing the assailants to flee the scene. The firefight resulted in the demise of one of the two perpetrators and an injury to Sophia’s leg, from which she is making a rapid recovery. (1) (2) (Had Brian, a law-abiding business owner not had a legally-owned firearm, both he and his mother would now be dead.)

     When we begin to discuss the “militia” in modern-day terms, we first need to come to a consensus of what it is. In my opinion, the militia should be defined as a body of trained, knowledgeable, able-bodied armed adults, who can effectively respond to immediate threats to life, limb and property with as equal a force as is being exerted, up to and including lethal force if necessary.

     Allow me to pause here for a moment, and clarify a few items. First of all, I am not advocating for or endorsing vigilantism. I firmly believe in the role of law enforcement to serve and protect, because that’s what we pay them to do. What I am saying is that in situations such as Brian Lee’s, situations which happen all too often in fact, that there are obvious benefits to having a firearm handy. Second, disarming the innocent will not do them any justice; it will only serve to leave them helplessly waiting on a police force with increasingly deplorable response times.

     So, how do we facilitate the “regulation” of today’s militia? First, we need to come to an understanding of what regulation means. According to the “Websterword” definition:

reg·u·la·tion: noun, /ˌregyəˈlāSHən/
1. the act of regulating: the state of being regulated.
2. a : an authoritative rule dealing with details or procedure.
—b : a rule or order issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of a government and having the force of law.

     Another definition can be read in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (554 U.S. 570 (2008)), which held that:

“[t]he adjective ‘well-regulated’ implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.”

     If we’re talking along the lines of regulation, the first thing that we need to agree on, in my humble opinion, is universal background checks. No reasonable person should want someone with a criminal history of any sort to have ownership of a firearm. Likewise, if a prospective gun owner is an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, what should they have to fear from having that verified during the ownership / registration process?

     The next thing that needs to be put into place is mandatory training certifications. Every single gun owner should be required to satisfactorily complete both a gun safety and and “active shooter” course. These courses should be priced reasonably, so as not to deter gun ownership in any way. By requiring these courses, the regulating authority ensures that the “militia” is knowledgeable in matters of gun safety and maintenance, and also laws and procedures governing the use of force.

     Another idea that has been floated in various circles is the possible imposition / requirement of psychological evaluations. Once again, this might not be such a bad idea, given that those comprising the “militia” should be of sound mind, as well as sound body. Satisfactory completion of these evaluations, which should also be reasonably facilitated, could be a requirement within the aforementioned certification process.

     These are just suggestions, my fine young readers, ones that I find reasonable and relatively unobtrusive. While we definitely don’t need a gaggle of vigilantes running the streets and taking law enforcement into their own hands, we do need more educated, trained and honest citizens who can, at a moment’s notice, defend what we have worked so hard to attain. If it t’were me unarmed and under attack, I’d want Honest Joe Citizen across the street who sees me being attacked…to be packing and ready!


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