A Church and the Second Amendment

By Ed Killoran

Earlier this month I heard about a “discussion” of Second Amendment gun rights to be held March 20 at St. John’s Church in downtown Columbus. From the church’s website:

    “What is the Role of Guns in America Today?

    Join us for this provocative discussion as we explore the issue of gun control versus ownership rights.” and “Come separate fact from fiction and rhetoric from reality.”

Presenting the “discussion” was Dr. Saul Cornell, Professor of History at the Ohio State University and director of the so-called Second Amendment Research Center. He has delivered invited lectures at Oxford University, Columbia University, Duke, NYU Law School, UCLA Law School, Stanford Law School, and Vanderbilt University Law School. He has also written a couple of books, the most current being, A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (For an excellent review of this book from Second Amendment scholar and attorney David Hardy, click here to download in .pdf format.)

I arranged my evening schedule to attend, suspicious of how there could be discussion with only one speaker, but hoping to hear news of the recent D.C. court ruling or other “discussion” of Second Amendment issues. However, Cornell’s opening remarks previewed the tone of the remainder of the evening, that is, a LECTURE on the need for gun control!

I stayed as long as I dared since my blood pressure was reaching a dangerously high level. Although the program listed a question and answer period last, I was compelled to ask him to clarify a couple statements he made without citing sources. His presentation was riddled with smug remarks about the NRA and political interest groups and I was obviously disturbing those who only wanted to hear that guns should be banned (oops, well-regulated) because gun owners are idiots.

Am I overreacting? Here are some examples of the one sided, self promoting presentation Cornell made:

  • "One Nation Under Guns?" as the title of a slide showing a picture of a rows of tables at a gun show.
  • He stated, "There are somewhere between 200 million and 240 million guns in the US. That's about one gun for every man, woman and child. Of course, the toddlers aren't packin'... at least not yet."
  • He categorized "typical" NRA members based on ONE member who he recalled was offended that a nearby toy store didn't sell toy guns.
  • He stated that he often was presented with the existence of 20,000 gun laws in this country, but commented, “… nobody has ever been able to produce them for me.”
  • He quoted, "30,000 people die by firearms annually," but failed to break down that statistic except to say 1/2 of those are suicides.
  • He stated, "Politicians don't represent the people when dealing with gun control; only special interest groups."
  • He took great delight in showing slides of Homer Simpson buying a handgun at “Blood, Death and Beyond” and he was sure to include the gun store owner telling Homer he would have to wait seven days, to which Homer replied, "But I'm angry NOW!" When Homer finally got the gun he was shown pointing it at Lisa while telling his family about his rights in the Second Amendment.

    About the time he told the audience (about 12 people) to watch "Red Dawn" but only after drinking a couple of beers (ha, ha, ha) to see the gun advocates’ visualization of how the government could one day be overthrown, I felt it was time to leave.

    Cornell's main premise of the Second Amendment allowing gun control was based on the phrase, “well-regulated.” The last question I asked was how he defined "well regulated" as used the Second Amendment. I had several sources indicating it meant something different 200 years ago (smooth running, like a clock) but that was nonsense to him. He emphasized REGULATION. He noticed my copy of Clayton Cramer’s book, Armed America, and promptly said, “Cramer’s never met a gun law he liked.”

    At that point, I excused myself and headed out the door... followed by the pastor of the church. I explained to her that I was personally offended by his derogatory and inflammatory presentation of gun owners and the program should have been titled, "Why We Need Gun Control." I left my e-mail address with her and assured her there were many gun owners who would be willing to participate should the church committee choose to present another viewpoint or hold a TRUE discussion in the future.

    My wife said I played into his hand and she is sure, after I left, I was used as an "I told you so" typical gun toter! If that is true, I doubt it made much difference to those whose minds seemed to already be made up and undoubtedly gave a standing ovation upon the conclusion of Cornell’s presentation.

    The most disturbing part of the experience was the total lack of any request for clarification of any point from any of the audience. They laughed as if they were in agreement with Cornell’s crude depictions of gun owners and didn’t seem to mind his many side comments. They sat there, shaking their heads like bobble dolls as Cornell continued on with charts, tables and graphs and his obvious arrogance toward gun owners. That scares me!

    Ed Killoran is a central Ohio volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

    Related Story:
    Op-Ed: Something’s Fishy at the John Glenn Institute

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