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A Kid's View of the 2nd Amendment

by Charles Steele

January 25, 2002

The following is a letter I wrote to the principal of my son's middle school.

Dear Mr. Oaxaca;

This last week I attended the open house with my son Corey. He proudly showed me around "his school." I was impressed with what I saw and with the people I met. However, on the way out, walking down one of the 7th grade hallways, I saw something that greatly disturbed me. First, let me tell you I am a patriot. My family, on both sides, have lived in this country since before the revolution. I am also a veteran, as was every male in my family since forever. I love this country and its constitution. I see the Bill of Rights as one of our most sacred gifts from our founders and all those who have died to sustain the liberties it promises.

This is why I was so troubled when I came across a gross misrepresentation of the second of the bill's amendments. There was a wall, decorated with student-made posters, honoring the Bill of Rights. Apparently, students had been given the task of making a poster to describe each of the amendments and explain what each meant to them.

I noticed that the student who was assigned the 2nd amendment, failed utterly to convey the intent of the founders, or to state even one word of what the amendment itself says. Regardless of yours, mine or the students' teachers' position on guns in America, the intent of the 2nd amendment is clear and deserved representation in that poster. It was unfair to that child that the teacher did not "help" him/her better understand the intent of the amendment. As a parent I assume, possibly incorrectly, that it's the goal of a teacher to teach fact and truth in history, not skew it with personal ideology. I may be making a wrong assumption here about intentional ideological sway, in which case I suppose it is just possible that the teacher him/herself has no clue as to why the 2nd amendment was written into the Bill of Rights. 

Instead of speaking of the ability of the citizenry to prevent the rise of tyranny, I read excerpts of supreme court rulings on gun laws. Instead of reading timeless quotes from Madison, Jefferson or Franklin, on the utter importance of the people to posses the means to resist oppression and to defend their country from threat, I read of "licensing and permits." Instead of reading that the right to bear arms is just that, "A RIGHT", I read it is a privilege.

Allowing this young person to believe this, and worse yet, to post it for others to read and believe, is wrong and very damaging. I noticed that the pictures that the child used to adorned his/her work were in fact paintball guns. My guess is that pictures of real guns, or even the picture of a minuteman with his long gun at the ready, may have been deemed dangerous enough in our wonderful new zero tolerance world to land this poor child in psychiatric counseling. A world where a child can get suspended for bringing to school a G.I. Joe who happens to hold a 1/2 inch long plastic gun. A world where playing cops and robbers is akin to butchering puppies as an indicator of mental defect.

I know that we live in a different world than the one our founders did. In fact, it's a different world than the one I grew up in. However, the importance of each and every amendment in our beloved Bill of Rights is as real today as the day they were inked. We need to see what our real problems are and address them. A culture of violence. Violence in music. Violence in TV, movies and games. No parenting. No moral absolutes, only relativism. The list goes on. We need to return to moral foundations. We need to return to personal responsibilities. Guns are not the real problem. They are the easiest target, however. We need to recognize that our kids need more love, attention and discipline from us, not knee jerk reactions and more laws or reinterpretations of our founding principals.

Anyway, I just wanted to express my sadness that we are failing our kids by not being true to them. Letting them adopt an incorrect understanding of our founding fathers thoughts and gifts to us as Americans is just plain wrong.

Thank you
Charles Steele