In the aftermath of the March For Our Lives many of us are taking another look at The Second Amendment and reexamining our views.
There are — and have always been — laws appropriate to their time. In an article published by The Associated Press about the governing laws of Rhode Island I found “Since at least 1798, it’s been illegal to arrange to meet another person and engage in a fight. Testing the speed of a horse on public highways was banned in 1896.”
Here are a few other examples of archaic laws collected Online:
- In Waynesboro, Virginia, a woman is allowed to drive on the Main Street only if her husband walks in front of the car while waving a red flag.
- In Arkansas it is still legal — theoretically, at least! — for a husband to beat his wife, as long as the beating takes place only once a month.
- In Quitman, Georgia, chickens are forbidden from crossing the road.
Since then duels, horses as means of transportation and chickens running around are no longer a problem. Gender equality took care of other archaic laws. Many once relevant laws outlived their usefulness. They became obsolete.
The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15th 1791. Let’s set the date in the context of historic events. American War of Independence in which the American colonies faced off with Great Britain ended 1783. In 1784 the signing of the Treaty of Paris officially ended the American Revolution and the United States were recognized as a sovereign country.
This was the historic reality of the time when The Second Amendment was adopted, as a part of the first ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. The exact wording of the Second Amendment is: “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.” This was the stated reason.
Internal tensions of the time justified The Second Amendment as well: with black slaves rebelling and conflicts with Native Indians still on-going many were in fear for their lives. The circumstances justified private ownership of firearms: citizens had to protect themselves and their property. At the time, it was unsafe for a new country to be without armed citizens to protect it and unsafe for the average citizen not to be able to protect himself. If you consider the historic circumstances, weapon ownership was a necessity OF THE TIME.
But there is a distinction between a spirit and a letter. If you read the definition of the Second Amendment carefully it is obvious that a brand new country still not entirely certain of its sovereignty sought to ensure the public’s access to firearms for the purpose of protecting its independence from foreign powers.
The spirit of The Second Amendment is clear: to ensure peace and sovereignty with the rest of the world and law and order within.
Times have changed. There is diplomacy and military that ensures peace and our autonomy (actually, power!), today. There is police that watches over law and order within. The federal or state government is unlikely to lean on armed citizens for defense of our country today. Citizens have access to emergency services (911) and a variety of self defense devices to choose from from sprays and alarms to cell phones.
Who REALLY benefits from access to firearms in the United States, today? Criminals, terrorists, unstable individuals with ill intentions, and yes, some hunters. Regular citizens, don’t.
And yet, we are not considering the termination or retiring of The Second Amendment regardless of how many innocent lives (even children’s lives!) are taken. The closest we have ever come to gun control and limiting legal gun ownership in America was The Brady Act and Assault Weapons Ban signed into effect by President Clinton in 1994. They included a mandatory five-day waiting period and background check and led to the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The Assault Weapons Ban specifically banned firearms classified as “assault weapons” which included semi-automatic rifles. (Fully automatic riffles are regulated separately since the 1930s under the National Firearms Act.) Barely ten years later, Republican-controlled Congress failed to reauthorize the Assault Weapons Ban and allowed it to expire. While President George W. Bush stood by, the NRA rejoiced.
Fast forward to today, in spite of the many mass shootings made possible by legal gun ownership, the expired Assault Weapons Ban and availability of stock bumps, the majority of Americans insist that the “right” to own a firearm needs to be preserved. One wonders for what purpose? Planning something unsavory, did someone wrong, mentally unstable?… Millions of people who don’t own guns sleep just fine at night.
Human life is precious. It can’t be restored after someone is shot dead. There are many alternatives to deadly weapons that can be used to temporarily disable an attacker or intruder. If those bent on killing innocent people had no right to purchase, own or use guns at their discretion so many lives would have been spared and so much pain prevented….
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited… It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Antonin Scalia
If you share my convictions clap, respond and share! If you don’t, I welcome your input as well.