Saturday, December 5, 2015

"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly."

... The title of this post is the first part of one of my favorite quotations, from Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi:
"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did.
I said I didn't know."
This is my response to current epidemic of gun violence in America.
What's to be done about it?
I don't know.

Do I favor more restrictive gun laws?
Yes... but with severe reservations.
The Second Amendment is notorious for its ambiguity:
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.
I suspect that 'twas fight between Madison & Hamilton that led to this convoluted single sentence.
(A more knowledgeable Constitutional scholar could well correct me - maybe it wasn't Madison & Hamilton, but it was clearly a fight that led to this horrible construction! - on the one side a staunch Federalist, on the other an equally staunch Republican.)
I'm very far from a Second Amendment scholar, so will refer interested readers to the Wikipedia article, which includes a nice summary of the judicial history with which we must deal.

... all this is somewhat beside the point, however.

My real concern is that any attempt to tamper with the text of the Second Amendment will lead to a very slippery slope.

The Bill of Rights stands as a unified whole in our collective understanding of our Constitution.
An apparent afterthought, these first ten amendments have been known since they were first drafted as THE Bill of Rights.
Once we mess with one, all the others are up for grabs.

Every one of 'em is controversial.
When we are FEARFUL, every one of 'em looks like a MISTAKE.

Since 9/11:
First Amendment
Freedom of religion, press, speech, right to assemble.
All have been challenged.

Fourth Amendment:
Protection against warrantless searches.
Challenged... I mean, really: How can we catch the bad guys if we have to get a warrant? Why shouldn't we be able to check someone's library records, or record their phone calls, or monitor their Internet searches?
(See, e.g., Edward Snowden or NSA.)
Fifth Amendment:
Due Process?
For terrorists? You're kidding,right?

Sixth Amendment:
"... the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial... to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence... ".
(See, e.g., Guantanamo.)
Well, you get my point.

In fact, the Amendments cited above have ALL been abrogated since 9/11.

Why do we allow these basic freedoms to be denied, but continue to insist on our artificial and arbitrary "right" to bear arms?

I note that as a private citizen today I cannot walk into a gun store and buy a Thompson submachine gun, a Rocket-Propelled Grenade launcher (RPG), or an M1 Abrams tank.
Yes - we DO, even today, have restrictions on our "right to bear arms"!

Why is it such a stretch to restrict my "right" to buy an AK-47 or M16 assault rifle?

1 comment:

  1. All the rights specified in the Bill of Rights are not absolute. On Religion, sorry not human sacrifices. Speech, no falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater, etc.
    There are limitations on all of them except the 2nd, which even includes the words "well regulated."
    There is no slippery slope in some sensible regulations to make sure guns do not get into the hands of those already deemed unable to own one: felons and mentally ill.