Over on his blog, The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse, Michael wrote an article about gun control, one of probably ten thousand that have been written since the slaughter at Sandy Hook. Michael is getting the mention because I think he’s a damned good writer, and I can kill two birds with one stone.
Tell you to buy his books (link here) and short stories (Michael is in the Sha’Daa and Heroes in Hell anthology series).
Now that I’ve done my advertising for the day, let’s take a look at what the United States Constitution actually says, and what an activist court has done to it.
Have you read the Constitution?
I am constantly amazed by how many Americans haven’t read it, but think they know what it says. The first thing we are going to do is read the Constitution. Do you see any mention of guns on this page? Not one, at least not in the main body.
Ah, but everyone is screaming about the Second Amendment. True, that is what they are screaming about.
The Amendments are a curious thing. According to the Archives of the United States website, the States requested a “bill of rights” that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens.
Twelve Amendments were proposed to the States as the Bill of Rights, but only ten were ratified. Right from the start the States were limiting the power of the Constitution, by refusing to ratify amendments. The first ten Amendments that were ratified are called the Bill of Rights, and have the following Preamble:
The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
You’ll notice something interesting. No mention of guns, anywhere. Again.
When we go to the Second Amendment that the States ratified, the one that everyone is talking about it says:
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.
No mention of guns. It does mention ‘Arms’, a definition from Dictionary.com:
noun1. Usually, arms. weapons, especially firearms.Origin:
1200–50 for v.; 1300–50 for noun; (v.) Middle English armen < Anglo-French, Old French armer < Latin armāre to arm, verbal derivative of arma (plural) tools, weapons (not akin to arm ); (noun) Middle English armes (plural) ≪ Latin arma, as above
I ignored the definitions that didn’t match the meaning. Note the bolded sections. Not guns specifically, but weapons in general.
The wording of the Constitution explicitly says that the right to bear arms is in relation to their use for a “well armed militia.” No mention of hunting. No mention of protection. For militia use only. Of course militias in the day of the drafting of the Constitution were very much ad hoc affairs, without any of the registration and lists we’d use today.
In 2008 an activist Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home and within federal enclaves.
The stretch of the Second Amendment definition is probably not Constitutional in its own right, as it interferes with the rights that the Constitution grants Congress in Section One:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
since the District of Columbia is ruled by Congress in effect. It is also unconstitutional because it limits ‘Arms’ specifically to firearms. The Constitution makes no provision to for differentiation between firearms and any other type of weapon, whether sword, pike, firearm, or nuclear bomb.
The last of which is more than a little disturbing.
Amending the Constitution
Part of the screaming has been people being silly, like the petition to Try Senator Dianne Feinstein in a Federal Court For Treason To The Constitution. Then there’s the petition To recognize the second amendment in accordance with the founding fathers original intentions, which appears to require access to a reliable Ouija Board, since not enough documents survive from the Convention for us to be totally certain what they intended. Then there’s the petition asking the administration to Pledge not to use an Executive Order to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding Citizens. Of course since no one, including the Supreme Court can agree on what those rights are that could be difficult. There’s the very similar petition asking the administration to Not INFRINGE upon 2nd Amendment rights by instituting any new form of firearms ban, legislation, or regulation, the Repeal Unconstitutional Gun Laws, and the Disregard and Dismiss Senator Feinstein’s proposed Gun Control Bill.
How do you define what infringes? Firearms aren’t mentioned in the Constitution. The most sensible one is the petition To send Piers Morgan back to Great Britain. Really, who wants him?
What these people don’t seem to understand is that the Constitution was designed to be amended, and that an amendment can remove an existing amendment, or EVEN CHANGE THE TEXT OF THE MAIN BODY. Seriously. Amendment XIII overrode Article IV Section II of the main body which said:
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
And thereby slavery was made illegal.
So a discussion about the Constitution is a good thing, and to be encouraged.
Does the United States still need the Second Amendment? If it does, how should it be changed, if at all, for the 21st Century?
These are important questions, because the Constitution was written in a period when the Improvised Explosive Device that Guido Fawkes attempted to blow up the British Houses of Parliament was still relatively current technology. The Framers of the Constitution could never have foreseen atomic weaponry, but a straight reading of the Constitution says you should be able to keep it if you want. And can afford it.
Certain types of weaponry aren’t allowed for use by Nation States. But the United States Constitution effectively says you should be able to bear them. Even if you aren’t a citizen. You just have to be in a territory where United States law is enforced.
I Like Weapons
Yes, that’s a sword. I like weapons, and I’ve always owned a variety of them. They never get used now, except for portraits. I used to hunt a bit before my body gave up, but that was over twenty years ago.
The sword has seen blood. My son, the chef (who has an enormous collection of knives), just had to see how sharp it was. Needless to say he needed stitches. It is impossible to tell a twenty-five year old to be careful. He’ll ignore his old man, every time!
So I’m not against weapons per se. What bothers me is people who don’t even know their own laws and history, making silly statements.
I do believe that weapons need to be controlled to some extent. Some weapons are just to dangerous to allow into non-state hands. Imagine if Adam Lanza had access to VX gas…
And if you believe that your government can’t be trusted, unless you can hold it off with your personal weaponry, do us all a favor, and move somewhere where you are more comfortable.
Thursday January 10, 2013