Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gun Enthusiast Want Regression to the Eighteenth Century


Tea partiers, Republicans, Jurist, and others rail against legislative actions that in their mind are unconstitutional. This is particularly true with issues over federal gun control. Many of these advocates say leave it up to the individual states; some even support 1776 law when there were no controls. They ignore that times have significantly changed. Today there are fifty states, not including the District of Columbia, which has a greater population than the state of Vermont. This alone might make one wonder if the Constitution is relevant as originally written.

To make determinations on constitutional issues, Americans need clearly to understand the framers were affluent eighteenth century white men representing thirteen colonies. Their purpose in forming a new government Constitution had nothing to do with a belief that human beings are born free with equal dignity and rights. It was rather to make certain that folks like themselves enjoyed life, liberty, and there was no interference in their pursuit of happiness. The Constitution did not apply to the indigent, Native Americans, women, nor did it embrace the abolishment of slavery.

There are those who argue that the framers were 1776 wise men with a crystal ball who wrote the Constitution so presciently that its words would be applicable for all time and suitable to address any social development, contingency, circumstance or happenstance, or anything else that may come down the pike. Those who make such a contention are ignorant of the fact that predicting the future depends on accumulative knowledge at the time of making a prediction. If that premise is true, it’s hard to argue that in 1776, the founders had the equivalent knowledge of today, and so that argument is fallible.

Now, keeping these things in mind, gun enthusiasts believe that the interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791, should be as the framers wrote and originally intended it to be. This means strict construction, which requires a judge to base a decision only on the text if it is plain and clear and as intended at the time of its writing. It is important to note that plain meaning does not apply and a construction is necessary if the language is ambiguous or contains a literalness not intended.

However, the Second Amendment is not ambiguous! The Second Amendment makes a simple statement: Colonist of the thirteen colonies must have the right to bear arms if they are going to join a militia mustered on short notice for the security of the colonies. The phrase “security of a free State” clearly did not mean individual States. That reference would have been made in the plural as States and the reference would have been made to colonies not state, if that’s what they intended it to mean. Gun ownership advocates find an ambiguity that’s not there.

Furthermore, if today the Second Amendment, sustained under the dictate of original intent, it would mean that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” would be limited to flintlock muskets and pistols.

Americans throw around the word freedom that they concomitantly associate with their rights. This association is further associated with their ability to profligate. However, Americans have no more of a right to own a gun than to own a car. In 1776 as now, money gives one that right, not the U.S. Constitution.

In our lives our purpose for being here is to evolve, gaining greater knowledge, advancing, growing, and constantly moving forward for the survival, benefit and advancement of our country, society, and all life. Gun advocates, and those on the other side of the congressional divide, desire to keep us in the year 1776 with strict construction of the Constitution. America cannot let that happen if we are going to progress. Americans need to demand that constitutional adjudication should be on the concept that our Constitution is a living document, yet one that retains its essence -- its fundamental properties -- but not limiting our ability and responsibility to evolve.

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