By Gerald Murphy: So the intent of the Second Amendment is obvious: dangerous weapons are meant to be only in the hands of "a well regulated Militia" or National Guard.

This is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "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."

Notice that the first thing this amendment mentions is a well-regulated militia, which is sort of a National Guard. When the British ruled our country, they were against our militia having weapons for a very good reason. They didn't want the weapons to be used against them! That makes sense. We now have no problems with the National Guard or the U.S. Army, Navy or Air Force having weapons, since these weapons are meant to protect us and our country against foreign invaders. That does not mean, however, that regular citizens should be allowed to bear weapons of mass destruction which might cause great damage to our innocent people. So the intent of the Second Amendment is obvious. Dangerous weapons are meant to be only in the hands of "a well regulated Militia" or National Guard.

The vast majority of American citizens see the wisdom of restricting dangerous weapons. Only a few very radical citizens would insist that they have the right to bear dangerous arms which could kill thousands of people.

But now, you may ask, what about our citizens who own rifles for hunting? And some people just enjoy shooting their weapons as a sport, or self-defense. Certainly these activities are acceptable.

Well, yes, these activities are acceptable. It was never in the minds of the Founding Fathers to put an end to such healthy and responsible behavior. But to argue that no restrictions should be placed on the sale of assault rifles and other dangerous weapons is just irresponsible. There is no need for citizens to have weapons which endanger the lives of citizens and police. Indeed, some of these weapons which radical groups desire to own put all of our lives and liberties at risk. There have to be limits.

Just as there are laws limiting our speed on highways, so too must there be limits to the power of weapons allowed to our citizenry. We can be a nation that promotes hunting and sport shooting without descending into a silly arms race of citizens against the police.

We have many freedoms in our country. We have the right to free speech, freedom of religion and of the press. We don't need or want to be ruled by our government. But there is also a need for freedom from fear. All of our cities have far too many weapons available. One reason for this might be that our government is hamstrung by a radical few who want no restrictions on weapons. They lobby our politicians and convince our law-abiding hunters that their hunting rifles will be taken away if we ever outlaw assault rifles and other dangerous weapons. Gun control advocates, however, have nothing against hunters and hunting as long as these activities do not endanger the safety of others.

The Second Amendment was written at a time when we had just defeated the British. We were now an independent nation, no longer bound by British rules. We made up our own rules. One of these rules was meant to ensure our nation's ability to defend itself against outside aggressors, as the Crown had been to us. We knew that we needed a well-regulated militia to defend ourselves. The last thing our Founding Fathers would have wanted was the chaos of unregulated weaponry in the hands of dangerous criminals. They were a sane and moderate group, our Founding Fathers. They would have taken a very strong stance in favor of intelligent gun control to stop bloodshed and murder in our streets. They loved our country and our flag. They would be strongly in favor of gun control.

So remember all these truths which are more and more self-evident. The intent of the Second Amendment is obvious. Dangerous weapons are meant to be only in the hands of "a well regulated Militia" or National Guard. There is nothing in the Second Amendment to suggest that the Founding Fathers desired patriotic Americans to live in fear of criminals attacking our mothers, fathers and other family members with dangerous weapons. We live now in a free society, but these freedoms and our very lives can easily be erased by allowing criminals easy access to weapons of mass destruction.

Gerald Murphy is a playwright and retired teacher who lives in Yreka, Calif.