Don Lesser: Limiting gun ownership need not abridge rights
To the editor:
With regards to a March 22 letter (“Second Amendment protects gun ownership”), let me correct several inaccuracies.
First, the militia was not, at the time of the writing of the Constitution, designed to protect the citizens against their government. It was to form a standing army to protect the state against external threats. The fiction that the militia was designed to protect the citizens against the government is used to justify unlimited gun ownership by individuals who believe the government is somehow coming after them and, more laughably, that a few automatic weapons will protect them against the U.S. Army.
Second, the writer cites Switzerland as a paragon of gun control. It is true that nearly every adult is part of Switzerland’s militia (which it has in lieu of a standing army) and that they all take their weapons, including machine guns, home. However, since 2007, no one is allowed to possess ammunition for these weapons at home. Any ammunition purchased at a gun range must be used there.
Hitler opted not to invade Switzerland because he was afraid of the militia and its machine guns. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, a much larger and much better armed adversary, without much hesitation. Switzerland served as an economic and diplomatic go-between for the Allies and Axis powers during the war, which is why Hitler left it alone. No doubt if he had won World War II, Switzerland would have been subsumed into the Nazi empire.
The First Amendment is already limited by restrictions on what citizens can say and do (Shouting “Fire!” in a theater, child pornography, libel laws). Pets, automobiles, food processors, elevators and dozens more modern conveniences are licensed and inspected, and owners and users are often required to pass competency tests before operating them. I see no abridgement of personal rights for the government to establish reasonable limits on gun ownership.