Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Right to bear arms: Individual or Militia?

Today's story about the Supreme Court's future ruling about the gun ban in Washington DC inspired this walk down memory lane, where I posted a entry on my blog, Rants 'n Reviews, entitled, "Constitution: 2nd Amendment."

Here's the whole post.

I find it interesting that people pine over the Constitution and its subsequent amendments as if the words scrawled by our "founding fathers" are tantamount to God speaking directly to us through them. What is so special about a document that was written hundreds of years ago by former Englishmen? Why is it that any proposed changes to this holier than thou document brings forth banter and intellect that would be better used discussing issues that the founding fathers never thought of, like abortion, digital rights, automatic weapons, nuclear devices, etc.?

The latest national tragedy, the VA Tech shooting, has brought forth a new reason, or reminder, that guns are very dangerous, especially in the hands of a psychopath (but so is a hammer).

It will be interesting to hear the 2008 candidates for president opine on gun control, how it affects the 2nd Amendment, and how they pander -- or don't -- to the NRA.

Specifically, the 2nd 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 seems to me that, despite the fact that I don't necessarily hold our forefathers in the highest esteem (after all, some owned slaves, all believed women to be inferior, and none of them were Stooges fans), we have to take their words in context.

When these men conjured up the ideas set forth in the Constitution and its amendments, there was a deep aversion to the federal government, brought about by the British government the framers had just fled. They were also cognizant of the fact that the British, if not other countries, would invade eventually and try to take over. Hence, the need for a militia. A militia, or any military force, is impotent without firearms and explosives. Just ask our beloved American Indians.

Put in modern English, the 2nd Amendment could be written thusly:
The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon because the nation needs a militia in order to ensure the security of a free State.
So, taken in context, a militia, with proper weaponry, is essential to maintaining a free state. This weaponry includes firearms (handguns and long guns, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns). However, this weaponry does not apply to all people -- in fact, contextually, it seems to me, the weaponry belongs to the militia.

So men and women don't have an innate right to own or possess firearms. But a militia does. And since militias are governed by the individual states, it is the state that has the right and responsibility to decide who gets to "keep and bear arms." If California, for example, deemed that all men over 18 were members of an involuntary state militia, then men over 18 would have the right and responsibility to possess firearms, but only in the context of their belonging to the state militia.

I don't know what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the words. The only thing I do know is that words mean something, and over time, words, especially in the context of "now," change meanings.

In this world of crazed lunatics, is it a good idea for everyone to own guns? No. But crazy people are prohibited from buying guns. Crazies and bad people will always find ways to skirt laws, the Constitution, and other governmental constraints.

Gun control actually makes it easier for nutjobs to commit crimes, because law-abiding citizens will be the only segment of the population that won't own guns.

However, do guns really kill people? No, bullets do. But that's another story.

2008 candidates on spot over gun-control - Politics - MSNBC.com