Matthew Modine, Actor, Activist, Filmmaker Posted 01/14/2013
“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
That line was barked by the man who portrayed Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film, The Ten Commandments. Moses was taking his orders from a higher power and since it was about 2,500 years ago, guns hadn’t even been invented yet. If they had been, Charlton Heston, the actor playing Moses, may have personally added an 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt bear arms.” Although, I’m sure no god would give a blessing to weapons designed for the single purpose of killing people. In May of 2000, Heston was president of the National Rifle Association. The NRA was in a heated battle with U.S. citizens calling for stricter laws on guns and assault weapons. Mr. Heston had this to say about then presidential hopeful, Al Gore. “(He’s) going to smear you as the enemy. He will slander you as gun-toting, knuckle-dragging, bloodthirsty maniacs who stand in the way of a safer America.” But, here’s the deal. I don’t think anyone in America asking for safer gun laws is trying to completely eliminate the Second Amendment. No one is trying to wrench guns from the hands of licensed gun owners. Dead or otherwise.
The Second Amendment, part of our Bill of Rights, protects the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.’ This may sound reasonable, but remember it was written in 1791. A time when land was being stolen from the indigenous Native Americans and Africans were forced into slavery to build this nation. It was a time when woman could not vote and there were no child labor laws. Time passed and slavery officially ended with the passage of the 13th Amendment. Woman would eventually win their right to vote with the 19th Amendment. The Fair Labor Standard Act passed and children would stay in school where they could continue to learn and enjoy the many pleasures of youth. You see, it is because we, as a people, recognize the necessity to transform and improve that we are able to call ourselves a “civilized” nation. We know it is unfair to benefit from another persons suffering. Imagine if we had not passed these amendments and you will see and have a deeper understanding of how the rest of the world is now looking upon the United States and our anachronistic gun laws.
Throughout our history we have committed many uncivilized acts. But, isn’t it because of these harrowing and heartbreaking acts that we aspire to become more loving and forgiving citizens? Must it always be necessary for us to live through cruel and deadly atrocities in order for enlightenment and change to occur?
In the past, citizens have encouraged government and its leaders to enforce judicial powers established in our Constitution and Bill of Rights to create a more honorable and unprejudiced society. As a nation we must, every one of us, continue to advance, develop, and refine our understanding of what is right and fair and good for all humankind.
As a nation we cannot be shackled to an archaic Second Amendment which is being shielded by a minority of Americans that demand the right to use weapons that are continually killing citizens across our country. Weapons that are creating blood stains on our national conscience that we may never be able to wash away. The Second Amendment was written so far away from this moment in which we are living. Over the decades, our Constitution has been updated and made more civilized and fair by way of amendments. It’s time to let go of these weapons that cause such massive suffering to our population.
President Obama, Vice President Biden, senators and Congress, let’s all work together to find a peaceful and civilized solution to gun problems plaguing our country.
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