Lloyd Omdahl: Guns, God and James Madison
"No one can interfere in my God-given right to guns" is a refrain often heard in the heated rhetoric between weapon owners and regulation advocates. Being that God has been dragged into this cutting issue of American politics, this claim becomes ...
"No one can interfere in my God-given right to guns" is a refrain often heard in the heated rhetoric between weapon owners and regulation advocates.
Being that God has been dragged into this cutting issue of American politics, this claim becomes both secular and theological. Every time it is made, founding father James Madison rolls over in his habitat. He thinks he created the Second Amendment while God just looked on.
To tell the truth, Madison didn't like the amendments. Since the Constitution didn't give the national government the power to regulate guns, he argued, the Bill of Rights was unnecessary.
But he was pushed to the wall when several states, his own Virginia among them, made ratification of the U.S. Constitution conditional upon inclusion of a bill of rights. Since his Constitution was more important than his principles, he buckled.
The Second Amendment is brief: "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."
It should be obvious that this was written with Lexington and Concord in mind when the ordinary folk of the land had to grab their own guns and fight the British. The Revolutionary War was over but the British might come back for an encore so we better keep our guns.
We can be pretty sure that James Madison was thinking of those one-shot muzzleloaders and not AR-15s, cannon, bazookas and other weapons of mass destruction now available at the local hardware store.
For political cover, some modern weapon owners have alleged that God gave them to right to guns, therefore what God has joined together let no man tear asunder. That claim is a real conversation stopper because nobody wants to go against God. In a showdown, even the atheists will buckle.
Blaming God for guns is uncalled for. I've spent a lot of time in the New Testament and can't find a word about God or Jesus handing out guns. So where do we get the idea that guns are a right given to us by God.
In my research, I found it hard to plow through all of those New Testament verses about turning the other cheek, living in peace and loving our neighbors, including Samaritans, to find a verse in which God handed out guns.
At most, He might have let us have guns to shoot pheasants (my favorite sport) and other game to feed families but would He give us guns that could shoot a lot of school kids?
The AR-15 is hardly a gun to defend our homes from marauders. If it is loaded, it is locked in some closet so the kids can't murder each other. By the time we make three steps toward that closet, the marauder has ruined the bed, the wallpaper and everybody in the room.
The president has proposed that we give 20 percent of the school teachers concealed weapons.
We are already short of teachers so why bring them into a deadly gun fight. Let them die of old age. The mass murderer is not going to knock on the classroom door, loudly count to 10 and shout "ready or not, here I come."
He is going to bound into the room with his AR-15 blazing while the teacher is still looking for her gun. When she finds it, the peashooter will be no match for an AR-15.
I am afraid man and not God is to blame for this gun thing. And let Madison have some credit.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND. His column is printed each Monday in the Herald.