A lot can be said, and a lot has been said about the interpretation of the 2nd amendment. It contains only 27 words but there’s probably as many or more interpretations.
Here’s the exact words:
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.
We have some people who argue the right to bear arms resides with those who are part of a militia. In other words “the people” is associated with some designated government entity, which even that can be interpreted in several ways.
For example, do we interpret the militia or the military as the only people who have a right to have firearms? Who and in what manner are they defined? It’s easy to understand who is in the military, but how about a militia? Is a militia the national guard, or perhaps another designated entity?
There’s a real problem with trying to narrow the right to bear arms to only those with power and influence. Who besides the military, can be included in this poorly defined group? Are those who serve in Homeland Security part of a militia? Does that also include the NSA, CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Treasury, IRS, BATF and organizations who we are unaware? You see this is a problem which people such as Former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Paul Stevens seem to ignore. They’re secure in their expansive authority and position, because they have personal security, which isn’t possible for “the people”.
John Paul Stevens, and other government authorities wield power, and have personal security, along with wealthier people, which most of us don’t have. The ideas he supports are further evidence of how distant they’ve become in a document designed for all people, not the exclusive domain of those elected and appointed. This is exactly the opposite of what the founders defined when they revolted and established a constitution, by, of, and for the people.
If that seems too obscure, let me do my best to explain my questioning of anyone who says, we must strictly interpret the 2nd Amendment to mean it’s only about a well regulated militia. Justice Stevens states it’s unambiguous. “When it was adopted, the country was concerned that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several states.”
He goes on to say. “ .. I joined the Supreme Court in 1975, both state and federal judges accepted the Court’s unanimous decision in United States v. Miller as having established that the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms was possessed only by members of the militia and applied only to weapons used by the militia.”
“And in 1980, in a footnote to an opinion upholding a conviction for receipt of a firearm, the Court effectively affirmed Miller, writing: “[T]he Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.’”
There you are. We have the words of those who support the government as the final arbitrator of what’s fair and right when it comes to our protection. It’s left to those in power within the government to define who or what’s a militia, and assume that’s any alphabet soup organization which they designate. Furthermore “the people” isn’t really about all of the people, as he interprets those 27 words. It’s only the militia that needs access to firearms for defense. We can just forget about defending ourselves from any thugs who enter our home with bats, knives or guns.
“That’s just those frauds from the NRA” according to retired Chief Justice Warren Burger. “He described the National Rifle Association’s lobbying in support of an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment in these terms:” “One of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
That’s the ruling elite’s definition, and the rest of us can accept whatever they think is adequate. I highlighted it because that’s where my litmus test for reasonable understanding of human rights, natural human rights, intersects the twisting of legal definitions to support their personal interpretation. I believe they not only misunderstood the framers of the Constitution, who were quite capable of expressing themselves, and wouldn’t agree with them.
What are the rights for private citizen to protect themselves? If the answer is, that’s the duty of the local police, or the military of the nation, then we have some real world problems. As a matter of fact, every police department states, they’re not obligated to protect you from harm. That’s been adjudicated many times in court. The reasons for that are apparent. The police are minutes away, when you may have seconds to live or die. If they can’t get to you in time, they can’t be sued for negligence because they failed to protect.
The “Bill of Rights”, according to the origination of the Constitution, were inalienable, self-defining, a type of “KEEP OFF THE GRASS” signs in support of the common person. The government didn’t issue these rights, the Bill of Rights, were natural rights to be preserved and protected. The key authors, as well as original participants at the Constitutional convention, carefully defined what was required to maintain a society which protects and serves the individual, not the government. They used purposeful language which placed these safe guards into the very foundation of a new country.
This country was and has been for more than two centuries, different because it established a rule of law that was separate from a king or a centralized, monopolistic hegemony.
Unfortunately for anti-individual rights advocates, the historical record refutes one of the best state vs private citizen arguments:
Pennsylvania kept that same clause in a 1790 state constitution revision as follows: “That the right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.” James Wilson, president of the convention which adopted that provision, a leading Federalist, and later Supreme Court Justice, explained it in a discussion of homicide “when it is necessary for the defence of one’s person or house.“
He continued: it is the great natural law of self preservation, which, as we have seen, cannot be repealed, or superseded, or suspended by any human institution. This law, however, is expressly recognised in the constitution of Pennsylvania. “The right of the citizens to bear arms in the defence of themselves shall not be questioned.” This is one of our many renewals of the Saxon regulations.
Randy E. Barnett
Georgetown University Law Center
“Those who deny that the original meaning of the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms on a par with the rights of freedom of speech, press and assembly no longer claim that the amendment refers only to a collective right of states to maintain their militias. Instead, they now claim that the right, although belonging to individuals, was conditioned on service in an organized militia. With the demise of organized militias, they contend, the individual lost any relevance to constitutional adjudication.”
That’s really the crux of it. Do we as individuals, private citizens have a right to self-protection, not only from bodily harm, but also to prevent theft of property while it’s being removed? If you say no, then reap the whirlwind upon home invasion, uncontrolled theft, rape attacks, or random public violence.
Is our natural instinct to survive an abstract, legalistic argument? The finality of our own existence or self worth or that of our family controlled simply by historical government whim, and then adjudicated in court?
I suggest our natural, or god given rights as some would call them, are not handed out like government cheese to whomever they please. It’s unassailable to say you have the right to flight or fight. It’s part of our instinctive nature, and for someone with a robe, sitting at a high bench declares, you can’t own a firearm. You maybe can use your hands, maybe a knife, if it’s under 8 inches, and a stone, as long as the stone isn’t real heavy, and you didn’t pound them into unconsciousness.
I want to see the practical outcome of these laws of confiscation that have recently been enacted, and will continue to increase. No one with their own concern for personal welfare will obey. The outcome for a country as large and populated as densely, will only continue a downward spiral of deadly use of force by those who don’t obey any moral laws, legal or natural.
The United States of America is a nation borne from revolution against tyranny. That revolt could not have been successful had the American public not been armed with weapons at least equal to those used by the British military and its mercenaries that Americans had to face in battle. The rifles used by many Americans were actually longer ranging and more accurate, making them qualitatively superior to the muskets prevalent with British soldiers and mercenaries. This renders the historical references to the level of firearms are for hunting, mythical hearsay and outright public deception. To suggest the founders were not in favor of private ownership, and not obsolete, ineffective firearms is a fallacy, and supported by the modern ruling classes and powerful elite.
Let’s review some additional facts:
- Firearm bans do not deny criminals access to firearms.
- Public banning of firearms does not correlate with reduced crime rates.
- Public ownership of firearms does not correlate with increased crime rates.
- Laws that restrict the use of firearms in self defense only empowers one group or class, the criminal or psychologically deranged.
- Gun homicide rates are down 49% since peaking in 1993. Personal note: I suspect this number will soon increase due to the newly added restrictions in states such as California, Illinois, and New York.
America is not the country with the highest rates of firearm deaths. Ten other countries hold that distinction, each with stricter gun control laws than the United States, with criminal firearm deaths per 100,000 people as follows:
1 Honduras 67.18
2 Venezuela 59.13
3 Swaziland 37.16
4 Guatemala 34.1
5 Jamaica 30.72
6 El Salvador 26.77
7 Colombia 25.94
8 Brazil 21.2
9 Panama 15.11
10 Uruguay 11.52
11 United States 10.54
The UK’s experience with gun bans also contradicts anti-gun propaganda. According to official Parliamentary records, firearm homicide rates actually rose after the handgun ban in England and Wales in January 1997. The only years in which the firearm homicide rate were actually lower than 1996 were 2008-2010. The overall trend for UK firearm homicides averaged an increase of 26%.
The UK does not have a comparable gun culture to the USA. Guns get into the hands of criminals, same as anywhere else. The vast majority of gun owners in the UK do not consider their firearm as something for personal protection nor for carrying in public.
This gets me to the final point. It’s not the gun that kills, it’s the individual, and as in anything we’ve historically witnessed in our country, the criminal element gets more powerful and wealthier through bans. It was that way for alcohol, it’s that way for drugs, and if there was to become a ban or highly restrictive ownership of firearms, the cost would increase, people would still own them, and those who owned them more defiant of the law.
It becomes a matter of culture and how children are raised and cared for, in conjunction with, how do we treat each other, provide opportunities, and shelter those who are unable to fend for themselves. Desperation breeds turbulent violent behavior, as well as a lack of nurturing parents.
… but … but … If nobody has a gun you will have no gun violence.
I’ve seen that statement, expressed in several ways. If you’ve read up to this point, and I haven’t convinced you that’s not possible, even with the most strict laws, then we’ve come to an impasse. Laws exist to criminalize specific behavior. Lumping the millions of good people who own and don’t use their guns to murder, rob, or rape, in with those that do, creates a state of disregard for almost all laws. Self preservation, along with freedom to choose are core to humans. Take away altogether those natural rights, rejects fundamental law which only through civil disobedience, anarchy, revolution, can those rights be restored once again.