Even as SATIRE, this concept will get nasty comments from both sides of the debate.
I’m not averse to gun ownership. I have never owned a gun that wasn’t a toy and never will until phasers become available. This is fortunate because if I did own a gun, I would shoot everybody. That Nun walking her dog across the street puts me in fear for my life. I went to Catholic school so this is legitimate. If guns had a STUN setting, the gun-rights versus gun-control debate would be easier.
I believe that people have the option to own guns. They have since the 1600s, a century before James Madison was even born. But it’s not a right. We also have the option to wear those wide-brimmed hats with buckles on them, but that’s not a right ether. Rights are concepts that bring you to who you are as a person. A hunk of metal is NOT a right. Neither is gun ownership a need. A need is something you have to have to survive and flourish, like air and food. Guns are a want, to fulfill a desire for comfort and power.
While the buckle-hats made a killer fashion statement for the Puritans, they were never used to kill people. Guns are. That’s why guns were invented, to kill animals and people. It’s also why we’ve had gun-control laws since the 1600s.
If you study the long history of firearms in the U.S., even before it was the U.S., it is clear that the Second Amendment was meant to ensure that the new Federal government wouldn’t impede the States from managing their militias. It had nothing to do with individuals. Gun ownership by individuals was assumed, as it had been for a century. The only caveat was that you had to abide by applicable gun laws, of which there were many.
Neither James Madison nor any of the other Founding Fathers discussed gun ownership by individuals in any of their conversations about the Constitution and the new Nation. For that matter, neither does God mention gun ownership in the Bible. To gun-rights advocates, though, the Constitution consists of fourteen words — the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Everything before that is, as Justice Scalia contended, prefatory. Everything after that is … well, who cares if it’s not about guns.
Today, the Second Amendment is irrelevant. Like the Third Amendment, it has been pointless since the Federal government committed to maintaining a large, permanent military to defend the Nation. But it has persisted as a Constitutional issue for one reason — gun-control advocates want to abolish gun ownership and gun-rights advocates have no counterargument except their absurd misinterpretation of the obsolete Second Amendment. But there’s an alternative strategy gun owners could take — declare gun ownership a religion.
The concept is simple. The First Amendment prohibits the government from making any law prohibiting the free-exercise of a religion. It is a more strictly held right than any other in the Constitution. If gun ownership were a religion, no laws could be passed, Federal or State, that would control it (without passing a free-exercise challenge from the Supreme Court).
Could this be feasible? It can with the NRA’s help. It would be older than several established religions, including the Churches of Scientology, Eckankar, All Worlds, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It would be almost as old as the Churches of Latter Day Saints and Seventh Day Adventists. Consider the fourteen characteristics the IRS uses to recognize an organization as a church.
The NRA would provide the foundation of the religion:
- Distinct legal existence
- Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
- Distinct religious history
- Literature of its own
They could derive from their history
- Recognized creed and form of worship
- Formal code of doctrine and discipline
They would have to define the qualifications and responsibilities of ministers and establish programs to train and organize them. They would need:
- Organization of ordained ministers
- Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
- Schools for the preparation of its members
- Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young
This shouldn’t be a major obstacle. The NRA has been training its followers about firearms for over a century. Finally, the new religion would need:
- A membership that is not part of any other church
- Established places of worship
- Regular congregations
- Regular religious services
Think of all the people who already claim to worship guns. Think of all the gun shops and firing ranges across the country that could serve as churches. As churches, they would be tax-exempt. They already have congregations (customers) and regular services (operating hours).
To keep their status as a religious organization, the NRA would have to make one BIG change, they would have to curtail their lobbying efforts. That would be a good trade because without laws restricting gun ownership, there would be no need to lobby governments. It wouldn’t prevent them from advertising and Ted Nugent could become a televangelist.