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Your Turn, NH: We need to put our children above the Second Amendment

December 30. 2012 7:19PM

I had the good fortune to travel to Canberra, the capital of Australia, this December on business. While there, I learned of Australia's methodology for gun control. They experienced a mass murder in the state of Tasmania several years ago, and the prime minister at the time took the politically controversial move of promoting stricter gun-ownership laws along with a gun buyback program. Both were successful.

Farmers who are running an active farm and members of registered gun clubs who are in good standing are allowed to own firearms for the purpose of managing livestock, killing predators, and target practice and competitions. This seems like a really good compromise.

Australians have asked me, "Is America really that dangerous that everyone must carry a gun with them?" I am embarrassed, as an American, to receive these questions when I travel abroad. Of course, I inform them that it's really not that dangerous in America except in poverty-stricken and decaying neighborhoods of major cities.

I think it is important that we take a fresh look at the intent of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The framers of the Constitution never foresaw that technological advances in firearms would allow an individual urban dweller to rapidly discharge 30 rounds of ammunition with a highly precise military-grade gun. The technology of the 1700s was vastly simpler than it is today. Rifles, muskets and handguns of the 1700s were muzzle-loading, single-shot weapons that took about a minute to reload with a bullet and charge. The country was a frontier that the colonists had to defend at risk of life and limb. So it made sense that they had the right to keep and bear arms in the 1700s and 1800s while the continent was being settled.

Today our needs as a society are vastly different. We are no longer at war with Britain, France, Canada, Spain or the Native American nations that once claimed territory that is now sovereign U.S. territory. We are no longer a largely agricultural society. Most citizens live in or near major cities, where discharging a firearm is largely prohibited except in extreme cases of self-defense. Most Americans work in either an industrial, office or service setting today. Very few have a need to carry or use firearms in their daily lives.

What is more important in 2013 America: Children being able to walk to and attend school without fear of being gunned down by someone that day, or the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms? One has to be more important than the other.

I think it is time for Congress to respect their primary role of elected office, which is to pass meaningful legislation that protects the American people. It is high time to put aside partisan politics, ignore the influences of well-funded lobbyists and pass strong legislation that will enact stricter gun control and ownership in the United States. Sometimes we have to protect ourselves from ourselves.

I respect the Second Amendment and the entire U.S. Constitution; however, it is not a static document. It has evolved over time to include the abolition of slavery, the right of women to vote, the prohibition of alcohol and then its repeal, and a total of 27 amendments since the document was first drafted.

I don't own or keep guns at home, even though I am perfectly within my rights to do so. There is no need for a gun in my home, as I have four young boys and am afraid of an accident. I did not grow up with guns in the home either. The only time I have ever used a gun is in the military.

What will our descendants think in 225 years when the technology of hand-held firearms makes today's Glock 9 mm look like a 1780s single-shot, lead ball pistol? We cannot even imagine what technology will produce in 225 years, just as our ancestors who framed the U.S. Constitution could not imagine what today's guns are capable of doing.

Bryan Patrick King lives in Goffstown.

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