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Guest Opinion: Rethink the Second Amendment

I drive a Subaru WRX that can easily and comfortably cruise at 90 mph down Interstate 5 (proven on a closed track). It aggravates me to no end that despite the responsible use of my car, I am subject to massive fines if I break an imposed speed limit put in place because other people don’t use their cars responsibly.

There are people who don’t consume alcohol responsibly, and because of them the rest of the mature 20-year-olds have to wait until they're 21 to legally consume alcohol. There are irresponsible people who don’t carry vehicle insurance, and I have to pay more each month on my premium for “uninsured motorist” coverage. I want my oldest kid to be able to use the Jacuzzi at the YMCA, but he can’t, because he doesn’t meet the minimum age requirement put in place because irresponsible people necessitated age-related rules. My friend has a super-responsible and friendly dog that I feel should be allowed to accompany us on our pre-dawn runs through Lithia Park, but he can’t bring the dog, because there are rules put in place to regulate all dog owners because of the irresponsible few. I like flying radio-controlled helicopters and drones, and now I read they are considering putting bans in place because of the irresponsible few who fly them over football games or near airports or crash them on the White House lawn.

I feel so persecuted! I (or my kids) don’t get to do the things we want to do because of the irresponsible few.

Why? Because laws are put in place for the greater good, not just the good of the individual: We all have to give up things we do responsibly because of the few who do those things irresponsibly.

How are guns any different? I don’t follow Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin’s logic when he writes to Vice President Joe Biden:

“In the wake of recent criminal events, politicians are attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims by advocating for laws that would prevent honest, law-abiding Americans from possessing certain firearms and ammunition magazines. We are Americans. We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”

I’m an American. I’m honest. I am law abiding, yet I don’t get to do what I want to do because lawmakers have passed laws to serve the greater good.

Why do gun owners feel they are exempt from this logic? Is it because gun rights are interpreted out of an amendment from the Bill of Rights? Have we lost sight of the fact that amendments are just that: amendments? To amend something means to change it, and that the framers of our American Constitution created a document that was intended to be flexible and amendable.

Don’t forget: All of the rights in the Bill of Rights have constantly evolving definitions that result from judicial review. From speech to religion to the press to unreasonable search and seizure to due process and speedy trials up through cruel and unusual punishment, definitions of all of the rights we enjoy are constantly evolving to keep pace with the changing times — the “right to bear arms” is no different. None of our rights, whether they are enshrined in the Constitution or interpreted out of it, are absolute — all are weighed against the greater good.

I appreciate the enormity of the issue of guns being used to counterbalance tyranny — our freedom from a tyrant in England was won only at the point of a rifle.

I am not running for political office, so I am not “politicizing” the deaths of innocent victims.

I deeply respect the service of our soldiers and law enforcement, both domestic and abroad, always with guns.

Hunters? Hunt on.

I am an American, and I want to re-think our current interpretation of the Second Amendment: Is it serving the greater good?

Frank Bertrand of Ashland is an English teacher at Crater High School. All of his age-eligible children have taken the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's hunters safety course.