• 54°

Qualifications should determine ownership of certain weapons

In light of the horrific massacre at a workplace holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. by two 27- year-old Muslims, it is time to place some restrictions on who can buy, own and/or possess a military-style assault weapon or high-capacity magazine weapon. 

With the exception of the killer at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood site, all of the mass shootings and bombings in this country have been committed by Christians (Oklahoma City bombing), Muslims (San Bernardino, 9/11 and a Muslim cleric in the Army), white supremacists (Charleston, S.C., black church and the Chesterfield race-war inciters) and the next biggest group have been high school and college students, or their age group (Paducah, Ky., Columbine, Mo., the Virginia Tech massacre, Newtown, Mass., etc.)

In order to sit for the Virginia State Bar (VSB) licensing exam in Virginia, one must graduate from law school and/or complete an approved VSB study course, write an essay as to why you want to be a lawyer and have two currently licensed attorneys vouch for your moral fitness to be a lawyer.

So, why do we allow people to buy assault weapons just because they want one without any further qualification of their prospective purchase? Dentists, teachers, public accountants, tax preparers, doctors, psychologists and police officers must have training and testing before they receive certification. You must be 21 to buy alcohol. You must be 35 years old to run for the U.S. Senate. You must be 18 years old and be a high school graduate to join the armed forces with a few exceptions.

All of these qualifications establish a framework and groundwork for a candidate to gain certification and it is a safety-based restriction to any candidate desiring to become a professional with minimum qualifications.

I submit as a former Virginia attorney and civil rights lawyer having worked with and befriended giants in the field, such as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall, Associate Justice W. Spotswood Robinson of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Oliver W. Hill and Samuel W. Tucker, that to limit the purchase of an assault weapon or high-capacity magazine weapon would be a permissible constitutional limitation on the purchase, sale, possession and/or ownership of these weapons. 

I submit that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would not be infringed if Congress passed a national law placing an essay requirement, an age limit (age 30 minimum), two references and training required before someone is allowed to purchase these weapons.

All of the first eight amendments to the U.S. Constitution are referred to as the Bill of Rights, but none of them exist without some limitations. 

You do not have the right to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm onto any educational campus in America (daycare to college) or into an establishment serving alcohol or onto a state or federal workplace or secured installation.

Why should we allow anyone over the age of 18 without a criminal record or mental health history to buy an assault weapon and commit mass murder?

REV. DR. GEORGE BATES is a Buckingham resident and is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia’s School of Law. His email address is advicedoctor72@yahoo.com.