Mar 29, 2017
Wyoming Governor Mead signed HB 194 "School Safety and Security" into law. That same day, he vetoed HB 137 "Repeal Gun Free Zones."
I applaud the first, and decry the second. As a pro-life, conservative, Christian, I am just fine with people carrying firearms into schools and into government meetings.
That doesn't mean I'm any less pro-life. Hand guns are not built to kill people, but to defend them from being killed. Designed so that their size and weight makes them easier to carry, they are more likely to be nearby when there is an imminent threat of grave bodily injury. For those rare but real situations, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
So, let's dial back the rhetoric. A repeal of gun-free zones will not mean dozens of people waving guns around in public. We already have strict laws on the books. Anybody who brandishes a weapon, except for the imminent threat of bodily injury, is breaking the law and may be fined, jailed, or both. So, if that's what you are worried about, relax.
The problem with gun-free zones is that someone who already intends to do grave bodily injury is not likely to care whether it's a gun-free zone. By definition, only the law-abiding citizens will be disarmed. In addition to this simple practical reality, we also need to consider the Constitution.
The first reason to advocate for 2nd Amendment rights is simply that this is the law of the land. We teach our children to follow rules. As adults, we are all expected to follow the law. In the same way, we expect our elected officials to follow the law that applies to them. The Constitution limits the kind of laws our elected officials can legally write, and legally enforce.
The right to keep and bear arms was written into the Constitution because we each have a fundamental responsibility to help and protect our neighbor.
If you expect all your fellow citizens to defend each other from direct bodily harm, it becomes your own moral responsibility to equip him or her for the task. How dare we push somebody else into performing a dangerous and potentially deadly task while withholding the tools to do that task?
A government that sends troops into battle but will not allow them the proper equipment is immoral. The same goes when we want to cultivate a civilization where people help each other, no matter what the danger.
Much of the debate surrounding the 2nd Amendment is misdirected. We talk as though it were about personal rights and power. Things come into better focus when we consider our personal responsibilities to help and protect. Once we acknowledge this, our love and care for the protectors will make us want to let them have the tools they need.
(Jonathan Lange lives in Evanston and can be reached at email@example.com.)