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Carl Wannemacher, Published January 30 2011

Framers were not trying to preserve a culture of guns

There is a lot of talk about the need for civility in our society after the events recently in Tucson, Ariz. It is unfortunate that we must have this kind of carnage to engage us in such thought, but so be it. It is not about changing others as much as changing ourselves – something each of us has within our grasp and ability. This is not about climbing mountains but leveling the mountains of prejudice and hatred we encounter every day.

We are a mass of contradictions. We believe in free speech as long as we believe the speech; we believe in the freedom of religion as long as … you get the idea. Democracy is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It’s not worth doing if we aren’t going to do it right, and at the moment we are not doing it right.

We may not know why this misguided man did what he did in Tucson, but we do know how he did it. If we are not having a discussion about that, we are missing the point of what this democracy is really about. This is not a question of gun control but of who gets guns and ammunition and the humongous clips that fit those guns.

Certainly, we should be able to agree that James Madison and the framers of the Bill of Rights did not have this in mind when they sought to guarantee the right to bear arms. The democratic freedoms we enjoy and protect do not include taking the lives or threatening the freedoms of other citizens for any reason.

It seems to me that the National Rifle Association and like-minded people would have a vested interest in protecting the legitimacy of the Second Amendment and a duty to protect that amendment from being misused. Maybe I’m wrong.

Wannemacher lives in Fargo.