Archive for the ‘Second Amendment’ Category

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Rights are not for giving or taking away…

March 28, 2018

Amid the ongoing intramural urinating competition about the real intent and meaning of the Second Amendment, those who would like to disarm the American public commonly charge that the right to bear arms belongs only to “well regulated militias.” This end run, thought by many to be a game changer if not a final bell, assumes a universal definition of the word “militia”, as well as a universal understanding of the real intent and meaning of the phrase “well regulated”.

Questions occur.

While Webster’s Unabridged and the like offer academic interpretations, there has been no ruling on how passage of the Second Amendment some 227 years ago, and the issue of differing contexts may impact a proper interpretation of those items in the 21st century. For example, the idea of “militias” today brings to mind visions of camouflage clad “preppers” living in closed groups or communities off the grid amassing canned goods and ammunition. They are not looked upon favorably by the federal government, and the feeling is mutual, which has led to a number of deadly confrontations over the years.

Some such communities or groups of the present day claim to qualify as “militias”. This raises some interesting points. If the Second Amendment is interpreted as some would swear to and limits rights of firearm ownership to “well regulated militias”, intended as protection against government oppression, wouldn’t the definition, organization, and regulation of those militias be entirely the province of the citizens forming them, with the government barred by the Constitution from interfering with any aspect of it? I would say that is the case, as long as those militias did not violate other aspects of the Constitution or conspire to unlawfully overthrow the government. My understanding would be that a legitimate militia is purely defensive. Where this can become controversial is when that which is being defended against is the government itself, on the grounds that it has become oppressive in violation of the natural rights of the people. Some would argue that a defending militia under the circumstances would be acting precisely as intended some 227 years ago when the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution. Others would argue that the actions of said militia would be an attempt to overthrow the government and would therefore be unlawful.

This also leads me to presume that, according to that interpretation of the Second Amendment, if my brother in law and I draw up a plan to meet once per month to drink coffee, discuss politics, and murder soup cans and pie tins in his back yard for a couple of hours, we can call ourselves the Fairfield Militia.

I have to wonder about the long range goals of the “anti-gun” people. I’m sure many of them have no goal beyond feeling safe, which is something they share in common with gun owners and Second Amendment advocates. Perhaps they, their families, or personal friends have experienced some sort of gun related violence and want only to prevent it from recurring. Others, however, may have more political or philosophical motivations and, like retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, would repeal the Second Amendment altogether on the ground that it doesn’t apply to the 21st century.

One could craft similar arguments about virtually any part of the Constitution and its Amendments, a tedious process of semantics that was gone through when the documents were originally created, but that approach is invalidated almost by its own existence. How can our government take away a right that was defined as not being their right to give or take away when it was written? Some would believe, in their arrogance, that they have the wisdom, the power, and the authority to repeal the laws of physics as well, I suppose.

There is little argument that we have some social and cultural issues that need to be addressed. I don’t think any significant period of time in our history has been without difficulties and challenges. Such is the nature of life. Our task is to accurately identify and define the things that need to be done, undone, or changed somehow. Our responsibility to ourselves, our descendants, and those who struggled to pass a remarkable system of self-governance on to us is to prioritize these actions, structure them with utmost caution, and to carefully undertake to make the chosen corrections and improvements without taking away so much as a feather of the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Benjamin Franklin is said to have quipped, “… those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

As a postscript to that last comment, it has to be noted that there are academicians and other alleged experts who assume they have some franchise on knowing what the authors of our Constitution meant or did not mean by the things they wrote, and use such interpretations to selectively negate claims to Constitutional protection by those with whom they disagree. Few are those who understand that contexts and circumstances change but the fundamental spirit of the Constitution does not. The Bill of Rights was created to protect the people from their government…not the other way around.

 

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February 18, 2018

Pro vs Con vs Dialogue [FINAL]