I’ll Second That Amendment
When I first started this column back in November 2001, my very first column was a manifesto of my beliefs and credo. It’s still available here if anybody would care to re-read it. The first item in my itemized list of positions was this:
1) I strongly support nine of the ten amendments with special emphatic support of the first. Actually, I support all ten, but I have reservations concerning the second.
Perhaps the time has come to spell out exactly what my reservations are, contrasted with what they are not. I doubt that I would feel the need to do this, except that some people seem to think they have the right to define for me what it is that I think; which is something else that I pointed out in my manifesto was a pet peeve of mine. “‘when people pick-and-choose which of my arguments they think represent the totality of who I am, it annoys me to the point of giving birth to rebuttal.”
The following quote made by a fellow poster:
“You probably oppose drilling in Alaska too, so you don’t want us using Oil, Don’t want us driving SUVs, Don’t want us to own guns, don’t want us to eat meat, want free trade, and want the Government to do everything for us:”
which is only correct on two points, set my resolve to make this correction. I had been considering addressing the topic ever since I first heard about the dog shooting incident, but it was the statement above that actually inspired my resolve to write this article.
The U.S. Constitution is the finest document of government ever conceived. Coupled with the Bill of Rights, it set the standard for how a country’s people can be fairly treated by their leadership for the entire western world and large parts of the east. But it was not perfect in it’s conception. It allowed for slavery. It held that only men were capable of governing or voting. It gave the government the power to seize lands they had no real claim to. And, in my opinion, it was short-sighted in it’s understanding of the future of armaments.
The Second Amendment reads:
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.
It has been held that this right was meant to apply to all free American citizens. Since the Militia of that time was comprised of both professional and non-professional military (i.e. the Minutemen,) that position has merit. The only thing suggesting otherwise comes just three Amendments later. The Fifth Amendment reads in part, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger'” This would suggest that the Militia concept is not that any gang of rogues or mercenaries can call themselves a Militia since Militia’s do not have the right to be heard in front of a Grand Jury in war-time.
Consequently, one cannot argue that the right to bear arms is sacrosanct since a Militia is necessary to a free State unless one is also willing to concede that gun ownership automatically puts one under the supervisory control of the J.A.G. given today’s state of war.
However, this is not my primary problem with the wording of the Amendment. I concede that the people do in fact have the right to keep and bear Arms, and that they should continue to have that right. My problem is with the universality of the phrase “shall not be infringed.” At the beginning of the last decade of the eighteenth century, when the first ten Amendments were being written and ratified, a weapon was a usually musket. Today, there are semi-automatics, Teflon coated bullets, guns made of non-metal parts (designed for confounding airport screening devices,) and an entire array of weapons that no sane person can see as having any legal use for non-military persons.
So When I say that I have reservations with the Second Amendment, it is these weapons for which I reserve my support. Issues like “what constitutes concealment” should automatically be moot when the weapon being concealed is loaded with cop-killer bullets. Your uncle’s pistol collection is one thing, his collection of flame-throwers is quite another. Practicing on the shooting range with a Glock is close to the line, designing and building a zip gun is over that line. Selling you old rifle to your hunting buddy, okay; setting up a table at a trade show and selling rifles fitted with scopes to any wack-job with the cash – driver’s license or no … well, I think you get the picture.
So, no, I do not advocate the wholesale seizure of all civilian firearms. I don’t think most rational, fair-minded people do. But the knee-jerk reactionary all-inclusive weapon’s definition of the NRA is not patriotism. It’s all about boundaries. Gun control is no more about the abolition of private gun ownership than birth control is about the extermination of the unborn.
If you disagree with me, feel free to say so. Only please, don’t shoot me.