America the Violent: It is Time We Curbed Our Gun Preoccupation

Scholars debate the meaning behind the second amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has chosen to take up a 2nd Amendment suit on only 3 occasions in its entire history. It is not that the 2nd amendment is sacred, it is just that there is no consensus on the writers’ intendent. Scalia commented on “original intent” as that was his belief. But he never spoke on the 2nd.

I did my graduate work on U.S. history, and while the Revolutionary War was not my focus, I was required to be more than just conversant in it. And because of that, I like to point to what the colonists called the “Townsend Act.” They detested all of them. But if you look at the Townsend Acts and the other acts instituted between 1765 and 1774, you will find they directly correspond to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. When the writers were constructing the Constitution they knew it would need amending and they also knew what those amendments would look like. But for the sake of expedience, getting 9 colonies to agree upon the document, they wrote the main document exactly as you see it today. The Bill of Rights, 10 amendments, were all passed in the first year of America’s existence. George Mason and James Madison, a Virginian wrote them, but we had already added a state, Vermont, which meant they needed 10 of the 14 to ratify. Mason actually wrote 12 amendments. The 11th Amendment was how states were represented in the house. Madison wanted a set small constituency for each congressman. This amendment failed. But the 12th amendment was one we can relate to today even better. It forbade Congress from giving itself pay raises. Of course that one failed.

But back to the 2nd Amendment. It is brief: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The colonists had, from their earliest days in America, maintained a colonial militia. This was made up of men who assembled once a month on the town’s green, practiced a bit and went back home. Because the colonial governments were always strapped for cash, the members of the militia were required to supply their own guns, which they did.

About 1765, the British government began a concerted effort to “control” the colonists in what they perceived as acts contrary to the desires of the crown. The British government sent British soldiers and British Marines to take the place of the militia and maintain the peace, as they saw fit. At the same time, they replaced the duly elected governors of the colonies with governor-general, their own men. Additionally, they replaced judges hearing admiralty (seagoing) cases with their own extremely biased judges.

Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts, a British appointee, declared that the storage of weapons and gun powder to be illegal and sent numerous forays to Plymouth, Salem, Portsmouth, NH and other locales, before ordering out his troops on the fateful day of April 19, 1775. The troop commander was ordered to capture all arms and powder known to be stored in Concord and bring into British possession. We all know how that worked out.

And so in the late 1780s when the Constitution and its amendments were being considered and written, the idea that a government could outlaw a state’s right to maintain its own militia was particularly sour in their mouths. It is important at this point to state that each colony joining the central Federal Government made it known that it desired as much autonomy as possible. The 1792 Massachusetts Militia was formed under the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment strictly outlawed the Federal Government from disallowing such an action.

In 1792, people who possessed guns tended to be members of the militia. And those people tended to be farmers, although certainly not exclusively so. But by that time the state government was suppling the guns necessary for its militia. The militia of 1792 is the National Guard of today. There is a direct lineage. Some states, however, maintain both, a National Guard force which can be called up to federal duty and a militia force which cannot be called up to federal status. In both cases, however, the governor is the commander-in-chief of such forces.

It is my belief that when Madison wrote “the right of the people” he was simply echoing the sentiments of the Declaration of Independence which starts “We the people.” People is being used in a plural sense and was never intended to mean the individual. I am certain it did not occur to Madison that people might grasp this amendment as an individual’s right. But Madison’s intent is clear. He meant the amendment to only apply to military forces.

Now, consider the fact that as of 1986 the purchase of machine guns was made illegal. In a curious twist, it is not, however, illegal to possess one but it cannot be made after 1986. And according to the ATF, as of 1986 there were only 182,619 that were transferable.

Now the only difference between a machine gun and an AR-15, civilian version of the M-16 rifle, is the number of rounds it can shoot with one pull of the trigger. Some machine guns use the same caliber round although most of the older ones use either the old NATO round, 7.62 or a larger round. I bring this up because no one is complaining about the machine gun law but try to restrict the usage of an almost equally lethal weapon and the push back is enormous. It makes no sense.

I do not think that a complete ban on assault weapons is necessary but I do think that any person desiring to own one should have to jump through a series of hoops prior to being allowed to purchase one. Getting such a gun should require legalities akin to gaining a security clearance and in turn, many will find themselves turned away, but for just cause.

I like guns and am an expert marksman. But it is difficult for me to understand why any responsible gun owner and prospective purchaser would object to more strict rules for ownership than now exist. These rules would never keep the responsible owner from purchasing a gun but it would certainly curb the illegal sales of guns and illegal ownership.


Age-ism in America; The Discrimination Practice No One Wants to Talk About

I am a 67-year-old man who retired 9 years ago after 30 years with the federal government. My first 11 years was on active duty with the US Army and the next 19 years with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. I have a B.S. degree in computer science and a Master’s degree in U.S. History. That second degree might not mean so much except I got it from Harvard and figured that would count for something. But thus far, it does not seem to have counted for anything. Additionally, I am in amazing health. At a recent visit to the doctor’s office they were concerned when they saw my resting pulse was 52. I told them about my cardio exercise program which is just a bit intense. I have a 24-mile bicycle route for my lazy days and a 40-mile route for my more energetic. Regardless, at a cardiac stress test I recently took the doctor was amazed that I not only reached my max heart rate but surpassed it. He informed me they have trouble getting most people to reach their max heart rate.

From age 58, when I retired from the Federal Government until 65, I worked as a substitute teacher for a public school system of an inner city school. I mostly taught grades 3 through 6. I really liked that job and it was a great experience until one day I felt I needed to move on. But move on to what? I just know that I want to be working and being productive.

I spent a fair amount of my spare time since retiring figuring out what I could of quantum physics. The subject absolutely fascinates me. I decided that if I could return to age 18 I would pursue an undergrad degree in physics with an emphasis on the quantum part of it and then follow that up with a doctoral program in astro-physics.   To do such a thing I would need to hone my math skills and so I have embarked on relearning all my high school and college math, self-taught this time. It is going well!

Anyway, over the past two years plus I have applied for numerous jobs for which I know I am entirely qualified and would like to do. One job in particular I came across at a job fair Harvard held. The job description perfectly fit my experience. As it turned out, however, the woman at the job fair was also the one doing the hiring. I did not get the job. It is not so bad not getting a job but it seems corporate America today no longer feels the need to send a rejection letter. That would be both the right thing to do and the polite thing to do. None of the dozen or so jobs I have applied for has sent me a rejection letter. What am I to make of this? How do I get a prospective employer to understand that while I may be over-qualified it does not mean I would not fully enjoy doing the job? And how do I get them to disregard my age?

About a year ago someone told me not to include any jobs further back than 20 years. That sounded a little disingenuous to me but I did that. It did not help. One thing is certain, ageism is at work here.

I am an intelligent person who has a lot of energy and a lot of years in front of him. I do not want to spend those years in retirement. I have too much to offer and think it is of value. I just need to get someone to look past my age and consider that I have a lot of potential. I am most certainly more reliable and experienced and most 20-somethings in the working world today. I also do not need most benefits that a 20-something requires. Not only do I have Medicare but also a 2nd health plan I retired with. And since I already receive a government retirement annuity on top of social security, I have not need of a 401k or other retirement vehicle. Those two things alone taken out of a fully loaded pay. In other words, I come cheap. It boggles my mind why some company has not snapped me up yet just considering those two things alone. Ageism? I truly believe I could easily work at a single job until I am 85 or older.

What sorts of jobs am I well-suited for? I am glad you asked! Project management of large scale computer systems, the design and implementation, to included planning, contracting, testing, and implementing.   I could be a CIO. I have seen the job some CIOs have done and can only wonder who thought they would be good at the job. Thirty years ago I was hired by a professor at MIT because he said I had the political skills necessary to get some engineering work done, skills he sorely lacked. I play well with others and know how to get people to do a good job and satisfy a customer in the process. My mind is outstandingly logical which helps me deduce the best solution to problems as they present themselves.

I know I am not alone among retirees who would love to re-enter the job force. We are more grounded, more experienced and more reliable than most applicants for just about any job. It would seem that companies would want exactly that sort of person but how do you get those companies to realize that people over 60 can be fantastic workers?  Not only is it stupid for companies to reject people over 60 without consideration, it is illegal!  Proving that is another case.