Sunday, March 23, 2008

Second (2nd) Amendment Right or Myth

In the News:

I would bet at this point that a lot of you are getting sick of the primary elections by now. But really, there isn’t much else going on, is there? Well, apart of Hillary coming to my town the other day and all the mess with Obama’s preacher, there is something else to talk about.

The Supreme Court is going to decide on the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms. The actual text of the document states, “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.” Many people hold the view that if the amendment states, “right to bear arms” than that is all you need to know. Others believe that there can be limitations to those rights.

It is my belief that there HAS to be limitations placed on this right. Here’s why: The framers made the point to include the precursor, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” This means that they found it necessary to give this reason. If you take away this reason, than perhaps the right doesn’t exist – or at least can be restricted. Since our “well regulated militias” are now armed BY the government, it is unnecessary to guarantee this right. For those of you who believe that there is an unlimited mandate for US citizens to be able to own guns, please tell me why that precursor exists in the text. Why not, instead, did the framers just state, matter of factly, without any additional conditions that the citizens have an uninhibited right to bear arms? No one has been able to answer that yet, so I doubt anyone here will be able to.

Of course, the Supreme Court may end up disagreeing with me. After all, they have been wrong before.

14 comments:

Enemy of the Republic said...

It's a mixed bag. On one hand, there is too much easy access to guns, so people who either don't know how to use the weapon or intend to use it maliciously, literally have no trouble getting their share of guns. I would like that to be changed and the waiting period plus the background check doesn't seem to do it. Me, I wouldn't allow any firearm to be purchased without a course that trains the indivudual--we make 16 year olds take Drivers Ed before they get a licence; why not show similar care with guns? But the NRA lobby is very powerful in Washington.

Jeff said...

I agree. I don't think I am for an all out ban on guns. However, I do believe there should be more of an ordeal to be able to get one. I get tired of the same lame old argument - if you ban guns, then only bad people will have them. This isn't Dodge. When was the last time anyone heard of someone (a good guy) out dueled a bad guy. The world just doesn't work like that anymore. What you do hear, though, is some kid accidently killing himself or a friend or even someone accidentally getting shot by an adult.

So, yeah, I agree. Want a gun? Take a class.

Sayre said...

I agree with Enemy of the Republic. Guns are so pervasive in our society now, I don't think there's really any way to ban them and make it stick (think Prohibition) as much as I would love that to happen. But stiffening the requirements and requiring a responsibility class as well as a technical training class might go a long way towards making this a safer society. There will always be illegal guns - anytime you try to regulate anything there will be a market for something under the table - but stricter requirements might help out of the gate.

I don't know that any state actually needs a militia anymore. The US government and the National Guard seem to have that covered. Of course, if there were ever another civil war, that might change.

The Real Mother Hen said...

In Asia - the right to bear arms mean "please wear short sleve shirts for the hot and humid weather"

See, it's all about one's perspective :)

kristen said...

I found some interesting things. A report from the 97th Congress states (this is lengthy, but here we go):

"When the first Congress convened, Madison proposed among other rights that 'That right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.' In the House, this was initially modified so that the militia clause came before the proposal recognizing the right. The proposals for the Bill of Rights were then trimmed in the interests of brevity. The conscientious objector clause was removed following objections by Elbridge Gerry, who complained that future Congresses might abuse the exemption to excuse everyone from military service......In the Militia Act of 1792, the second Congress defined 'militia of the United States' to include almost every free adult male in the United States. These persons were obligated by law to possess a firearm and a minimum supply of ammunition and military equipment.....There can by little doubt from this that when the Congress and the people spoke of a 'militia', they had reference to the traditional concept of the entire populace capable of bearing arms, and not to any formal group such as what is today called the National Guard. The purpose was to create an armed citizenry."

Most, if not all, the Founding Fathers had one or more guns. Samuel Adams said: "The Constitution shall never be construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

I grew up in a house of guns. My father took my brothers hunting. He always said: "If you ever want to look at the guns, ask me; I will get them out with you and we can look at them." This diffuses boys' innate curiosity to play with something that is supposedly 'off-limits'. We NEVER had any problems with 10+ weapons in our house.

It is every citizen's right to bear arms. You take this away, you strip him of his liberty. Now, we shouldn't be handing them out to unstable and psychotic criminals or anything.

(Ok, sorry about the novel, but you know me....)

Jeff said...

Sayre: Yes, I agree.

However, if there is another civil war, the federal government would put down all rebellion without much trouble. I doubt farmers with rifles would be a factor - except of course, to increase the death totals.

Mother Hen: I'm all for short sleeves. Which reminds me of a bad joke I heard: Where did the general hide his armies? A: In his sleevies.

Jeff said...

Kristen: Oh Kristen, Kristen, Kristen! I can always count on you to maintain the GOP company line. You don't disappoint; that's why I love you. ;)

Gun control isn't really a central issues with me, but I do have to apply common sense to my opinions so I feel I have to rebut.

First of all, calling what you cited as a report from the "97th Congress" is technically accurate, but highly misleading. What you cited was from a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. To be more specific, it was written by Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican and head of the committee. It hardly reflects the thoughts of the Congress as a whole.

I have no problem with Madison's wording (via Hatch, via Kristen). I think it is on the same page as I am. Madison stated concern that a well armed and regulated militia was best for the security of a free country. It was FOR THAT PURPOSE. It was our citizen militia that fought off the British in the Revolutionary War. That is what we know. Madison did not want to remove that ability to aid in the provision for the common defense. However, that doesn't apply today. We have regulated state militia's that the government provides the weaponry. So, this idea of Madison's is now obsolete for the purpose that Madison provided.

All this talk about rewording it for legitimate conscienious objectors is just hooey. The amendment talks about the right to bear arms, not the mandate to bear arms. This did not come down, as Hatch mentions, until the Militia Act of 1792 which CONFIRMED the reason for the 2nd Amendment being all about national security through citizen militias. However, and quite ironically, the Militia Act of 1792 was ultimately replaced by Militia act of 1903 which established . . . wait for it . . . Yes, the National Guard which is why me and my ilk say that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to rednecks with big guns as represented by the photograph I included with this post.

The Supreme Court concurs with this in "United States v. Miller". After reciting the original provisions of the Constitution dealing with the militia, the Court observed that "with obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted with that end in view." The main point of the militia was that it was composed of "civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion." It was upon this force that the States could rely for defense and securing of the laws, on a force that ''comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense,'' who, 'when called for service.'"

The body of evidence is on this side of the argument, I have found.

Sure, the founding fathers had guns, Kristen. It was a different time and a different need. Some founding fathers owned slaves, too, but I doubt you are ready to take up that argument next. ;)

Kristen, I am sure your household was full of responsible gun owners. Hey, I don't have problems with responsible gun owners. I just want the best way to INSURE that every household that has a gun in it is a responsible one. It isn't the case, today.

I am curious about this statement you made on your own behalf: ". . . you take that (gun ownership)away, you strip him of his liberty." Are you saying that gun ownership is the pivotal piece in what is and is not a free country? Since a large percentage of Americans do not own guns anyway, why would this particular so-called right be so pivotal?

Lastly, thanks for dissenting. I love a good discussion. I can always count on you to take interest in the topic when you chime in and not just "check in" with a comment - which I also appreciate, by the way.

As I have said before, your views are ALWAYS accepted on this blog and would be greatly missed if they disappeared. Intelligent people can still disagree in this country. :)

chosha said...

Mother Hen: One's perspective...and one's spelling. :)

I don't necessarily think that the legal right to own a gun needs to be taken away. (I don't own a gun, but I'm not adverse to sports shooting (targets) or hunting (if they use the meat.)) I do think that the law should reflect the dangerous nature of the item. In other words, guns and ammo shouldn't be easy to get, licensing should require more than showing some ID. Punishments for illegally owning a gun or using it in a criminal act should be tough.

The minute you are holding a loaded gun you are potentially ending life. The same can be said for getting behind the wheel of a car and that is why we have driving tests and driver education, registration fees that covers third party injuries, speeding and other driving-related laws, etc. Gun laws should reflect a similar awareness of the dangerous nature of the object when in the wrong hands.

Jeff said...

Chosha: We agree. As much of an anti-hunter that I am, I wouldn't tell someone else that they have no right to do it. I do think that society has a right to know that a person is a responsible gun owner before we potentially turn him loose on society with deadly weapon.

kristen said...

Yes, I'm aware that the report was done by a judiciary committee. And that yes, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was on that committee.

We have to go back to the original intent of the founders: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. I'm not concerned about militias and National Guards. I understand that changes can and will be made.

One is stripped of his liberty if that right is infringed upon. I don't own any guns myself, but who's to say I won't ever? If I as a law-abiding citizen never have the opportunity to gun ownership (due to gun laws), then my liberty has been taken.

And about slaves. Sure, many Founders owned them. But despite what history books say, most did not agree to slavery and wanted to do away with it. We both know what a complicated issue that was.

I appreciate your generous words. My dissent is not always welcomed.

kristen said...

BTW--that picture is awesome.

Charlie said...

I just dropped by from my friend Meg's blog and drop into a fascinating subject.

I agree with all who have said:

1. Banning personal ownership of guns is an infringement on our rights.

2. Waiting periods, background checks, training, licensing, and crimes committed with guns should all be stronger.

What worries me are all of the guns that bypass the legal system by sale through car trunk, similar to the sale of illegal drugs. There are high-tech weapons on our streets whose purpose, I believe, are neither to hunt deer nor use for skeet shooting.

Charles said...

I don't think that anyone should "bear arms". No one should have that kind of power. Look at what happened at Virginia Tech. I think maybe there trying to amend it for reasons like that.

Charles said...

one more thing. That looks like a freakin' gatling gun. Its huge man.