Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Second Amendment - a slight refrain

A while back I posted on the Second Amendment - here are some further thoughts;

First off - George Washington (remember him) had a horrible time raising an army, and his untrained forces that he could assemble were mis-matched against the red coats. How to fix that was the mind set and historical context that lead to the Second Amendment. "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."

As hard as they try the apologist for the NRA, the NRA, or the excuse makers for Columbine can not separate out any part of that one sentence known as the Second Amendment or offset one phrase apart and away from the other - here's why. If the framers of the Constitution had intended for any part of that amendment sentence to stand alone they would have separated it and started a new sentence as another amendment or at least added a period where the comma is located with a capital letter. But this is not how they wrote it.

Think about it - the framers of the Constitution deliberated behind closed doors in the heat of the summer and all summer long. No air conditioning, windows shut with privacy sought until a finished product could be presented to the people and the world. This was and is serious work. They deliberated on this for months if not years when you consider the documents Madison and Jefferson, Adams and Hamilton wrote prior to and after the Constitution. Certainly if the framers were concerned that every citizen be armed to defend their property or go hunting then the amendment would have stated it as such. It would have been an amendment about hunting and brandishing firearms.

These were learned men who exercised international treaties and business contracts their whole lives. They didn't just slap the document together or misword their original intent. They deliberated, drafted and composed for a long time in trying to be clear, drafted and re-drafted. They poured over the document line by line. If the often quoted …or rather mis-quoted right to bear arms was the sole intention of the framers it would have gotten its own amendment right off the bat, upfront and with it's own sentence.

But again that's not what the Second Amendment is about. Unfortunately with the excuse makers and those that profit directly from gun sales to minors and criminals the Second Amendment begins with "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State ..." this amendment's clear priority by order of it's wording is a militia and a States right to form one. This is a States right amendment.

In addition Alexander Hamilton's expands on this issue in the Federalist papers that a well regulated militia might have to stand up to a national army gone amok from a centralized government. Since the framers had experienced this very problem first hand in Concord among other places the Second Amendment (after free speach) was designed to prevent that very likely eventuality. History repeats itself and the framers were well aware of that. In short - The Second Amendment is a States right clause to form Militias to defend against foreign attacks even by our very own centralized government - thus the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.

Gramatically the right to bear arms is by virtue of it's placement in the sentence a subordinate right dependent on the first two objects of the sentence.

Arming random citizens so they could brandish guns in the town square with impunity or defend themselves from Native Americans or hunt for dinner, or pleasure was not what this amendment was about and may not have even been an issue in those days. The misquoted and mis-implied "individual right" to bear arms was probably no more an issue than the right to bear a fishing rod or the right to bear a bow and arrow.

That the NRA leans so heavily on a selected few out of context words from this amendment to thwart the common sense management of the 21st century realities is a crime, laughable on it's face if not for the harrowing results, dangerous, disingenuous, ill-conceived and a health care problem.

Child safety locks are fought using word fragments from this amendment by the gun lobbyist. The loophole in the trade shows against criminal background checks is also fought using word fragments of this amendment.

The Second Amendment was not intended nor does it say let criminals have guns and abandon risk reduction regarding children.

So let's stop bastardizing the words and intent of the Second Amendment. Let's manage our realities of the 21st century and provide for law abiding citizens to own guns for protection of property, hunting for game and in forming State Militias. We can do all three. Outlawing guns is not the answer, but neither is reckless gun promoting, manufacturing, selling and the distribution practices presently flaunted.

Semi automatics, AK-47's, armor piercing bullets, this kind of weaponry doesn't belong in the hands of law abiding citizens, but State Militias in order to defend against modern armies and supervised and controlled by each State individually should have access to them if they feel the need.

Hunting rifles and hand guns are the only weapons necessary to defend your home against break in or used to go hunting. No one under eighteen should own or operate a hand gun (much like drinking or going off to war). If we get attacked on our soil - the Second Amendment provides for each State to have a "well regulated" militia.

Guns are a big industry along with cigarettes, pesticides, chemical, nuclear, coal, and oil (to name a few) that have abused their inherent obligation to the Nation and States not to harm it's citizens. Hiding behind the Second Amendment by virtue of word play doesn't change that reality at all.

1 comment:

Leif Rakur said...

I certainly agree with the thrust of your post, Paul. Our Constitution is silent on the subject of individual gun rights.

The Fourth Amendment is about the right of the people to security as individual persons, the Second Amendment addresses the right of the people to security as a community.

With the addition of a couple of words, the Fourth Amendment could have included personal gun security -- but it doesn't.