The 2nd Amendment

7 Feb

I do not own a gun. There are a few I might like to own, but there are other things I would rather spend the money for. That said, the decades long effort to convince people that the Second Amendment to the Constitution does not enshrine a citizen’s right to own weapons has always bothered me. If the Second Amendment does not mean what it clearly says, and what history tells us it was written to say, then no part of the constitution is safe from being re-defined out of existence.

The Second Amendment was written and adopted specifically to ensure that citizens would have legal access to military grade weapons for self defense. This is known, and beyond question. The debates on the Constitution and Bill of Rights are well documented. Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, who favors gun control and so might be expected to say otherwise, has publicly stated that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to armed self-defense.
Yet authoritarians, Right and Left, have been chipping away at this right for most of the last Century. They do not trust the citizens to look after themselves and, worse, they do not like the limitations that the Constitution and Bill of Rights place on government power. They like the idea of a “living Constitution”, because what the means at base is that the people in power can alter the meaning of the nation’s founding document to fit their momentary notion of expediency.
Much of the Bill of Rights has fallen by the wayside. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments have become, to all intents and purposes, dead letters. The Fourth and Eighth are washing away like sandcastles at high tide. The fashion for Social Engineering has given the (il)liberal Left all the excuse it needs to meddle in peoples’ private decisions on all levels, and the Constitution that would prevent that must be ignored. After all, if the self-selected elitists of the Left can’t tell the Common Man what is good for him, they might have to face that they really aren’t all that important, and that would be Really Terrible. Similarly, there are elements of the Conservative Right who have watched the norms of their society changing, and lust for the authority to force them back. Among the Political Class on both sides the limitations the Constitution puts on government authority is a constant annoyance.
On one front only, they are losing ground. When I started paying attention to politics Gun Control laws were pervasive and growing more restrictive by the year. But as I watched, that was stopped, by the Common People deciding that they had had enough of being treated like untrustworthy children.  Gun laws changed. And, in the same period, crime dropped. There may or may not be a connection, but the citizenry is convinced that there is, and they are not tolerating restrictions on their right to self defense.
The idea that the Constitution means what it says it means is coming back into fashion. That makes a lot of people with varying degrees of power very unhappy. There is going to be a long, hard fight if anything is going to be changed; asset forfeiture, eminent domain, and many other impositions can only be rolled back if we put in the necessary effort.
In the meanwhile, treatment of the Second Amendment should be our miner’s canary. A politician who won’t trust the common folk with firearms, probably doesn’t really trust them with anything else.

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