Second Amendment confusion

Published 6:52 pm Monday, December 30, 2019

We have a gun sickness here in America. I believe we have confused and distorted the right defined by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, regardless of my or your understanding of the Second Amendment, we do currently regulate the ownership of dangerous weapons. Private citizens are not allowed to purchase, sell or own hand grenades, or fully automatic weapons, or rocket launchers, or tanks. In fact, in most states, it is illegal to sell or possess fireworks. Why? Because these things are so dangerous that the safety of us all overrides the individual right to own one. The Second Amendment is not harmed by this distinction and we are all made safer as a result.

Frank Howe

I know that it is challenging for any elected official to support any sort of gun control. But this is a matter of conscience, character and courage. It comes down to this. What kind of society do we wish to have? One in which, due to distrust, anger and fear, we heavily arm ourselves and eye our neighbors, our law enforcement and even our government with suspicion, or one in which we try to protect and care for each other as fellow Americans and fellow human beings.

The framers of the constitution never intended or imagined that private citizens would possess weapons that could kill 30 people in 30 seconds. At that time, it was unthinkable. To say today, that a private citizen should have access to such terrible lethality is appalling.

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To oppose any limitation on gun ownership is dangerous. It displays a shocking and perhaps willful ignorance of the dangers of gun violence in our society.

On Monday, Dec. 9, the Buckingham Board of Supervisors passed the motion called the Resolution of the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors In Support of Second Amendment Rights. This proposal is the product of ignorance, fear and greed; an ignorance that equates freedom with the speedy ability to kill dozens of your neighbors, a fear that we must hunker down and protect ourselves from each other and from our government because we have forgotten how to express and resolve our differences civilly, peacefully, and the greed of the gun manufactures who fund the fetid flow of fear mongering, hate mongering and disinformation that maintains our falsely perceived need for the highly dangerous weapons that maintains their staggering profit margins.

At the Monday meeting I suggested that we here in Buckingham behave differently. I suggested that we set an example for the rest of the state and perhaps, for the rest of the nation to follow.

It is clear that many are concerned and afraid that their rights may be in jeopardy. It is also clear that many are deeply troubled by the persistent occurrence of mass shootings in our country. What may not be as clear, but I believe is true, is that many people feel strongly about both concerns.

On Monday night we had an opportunity to bridge the divide and find a common ground on which we all could stand. My suggestion was that the Resolution in Support of the Second Amendments Rights keep all its current wording and add sections which acknowledge the serious issue of gun violence in our country and advocate for reasonable remedy.

The two suggested additions to the motion were as follows:

Under the first section of expository statements, I suggested we add:

WHEREAS, the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors likewise recognizes the serious concerns our community, our state and our nation faces regarding the saddening and dangerous trend of mass shootings within our society:

Under the second section of resolutions, I suggested we add:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors hereby calls upon the General Assembly of Virginia to enact sensible, effective and constitutionally consistent legislation to address the dangers of gun violence within our society and to ensure as much as possible the safety of all our citizens.

With these two additions we could have shown that it is possible to work collaboratively, even on a difficult issue and that we could have served as a model for others on what a community can do if we stand together.

Not one member of the Board had any comment on these suggestions. Not one member of the Board made any attempt to even discuss the possibility of acknowledging or addressing the issue of mass shootings. Not one member of the Board did anything to attempt to find a path toward unity. They remained silent when I concluded my comments. Their silence was sad and significant. Their silence was as loud as a gunshot.

Frank Howe is a resident of Buckingham County. He can be reached at