The Importance of the Second Amendment

Various arguments for the Second Amendment. 

Whenever we allow the comparison between firearms and automobiles we lose. Even when the other side admits that there is a difference between a right and a privilege (I know a lot of educated people who think driving is a right, btw). This is because we fail to assign the second amendment to it proper stature. And indeed, many of us cannot discuss the second amendment without entertaining such issues as fighting crime and tyranny. Now both are valid points, but they cause the discussion to become mired down in SYMPTOMS while not addressing the issue. Kinda like the old canard about the dead elephant in the living room – we all see it, we all smell it, but nobody knows how to bring it up for debate. 

The second amendment appears in the Bill of Rights, NOT in the Constitution because the writers of the Constitution didn’t feel the urge to include it, nor any of the original 12 amendments to the body of the Constitution for a variety of reasons. These amendments were included because people had just fought a war against government tyranny, and wanted to be dern sure that their solution wasn’t worse than the problem. Several states refused to ratify the Constitution without these assurances of personal liberty and freedom carved into stone, as it were. 

All rights in the Bill of Rights (BOR) are therefore considered primary and paramount, and as such an infringement on one is an infringement on all. So without getting a pushme-pullyou discussion into semantics, how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, or how many cartridges are appropriate for a magazine, let us discuss the level of rights the second amendment belongs to. I’ll try to refrain from being too comprehensive, but I will include some of which we regard are fundamental to our freedom as citizens. 

One example is found in the first amendment and we think of it as freedom of religion. Does the government tell us what religion to practice, or how many times a week we can (or must) go to church? Are we willing to allow politicians to tell us what are valid reasons for choosing what faith to belong to, or who its practitioners may be? Do we really want the government to tell us who our priests and ministers can be? Or how many times we need to partake of the sacraments? Or what the entrance criteria for a particular church may be? Of course not. But this is exactly what we allow when we say that the Right to Carry (RTC) should require certain criteria be met, under the aegis of certain individuals. Or that certain competencies be demonstrated over what certain intervals, as witnessed by whomever. And yet since rights are at this level, the equating of these concepts are critical of our success in winning the public debate. 

Or how about another first amendment protection: freedom to petition the government. Must a person meet certain requirements, for eloquence perhaps, before they can avail themselves of this right? (and remember, when the other side responds with a safety argument, we reply ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’). Should a person be required to pass an essay exam to circulate a petition seeking redress from a perceived government imposition? If so, then who will administer and grade such an exam, and what subjects will be evaluated? If not, then why are some high level rights subject to demonstrable competency and others not?

Do we enjoy a freedom from unreasonable search and seizure? Do we enjoy the right to legal counsel? To confront our accuser? These are all rights on the same level as the second amendment. As are the right to due process of law, the right to protection against double jeopardy, and self-incrimination. 

So the second amendment is a case of BOR level rights. It is also a Civil Rights issue.  We’re letting fear determine the debate with one side listing their fears of what people might do when exercising certain rights, and we find ourselves trying to allay that fear. This is the very same fear that some of us more august types witnessed during the struggle for racial equality when people reacted to black people with fear. We were told that we had to deal with that fear because these people had rights. As we dealt with that fear, we soon discovered that there was little to fear in a person of different hue, and in fact much to gain. So when people start expressing their hoplophobia (Fear of firearms), we need to remind them that their fear is just as unreasonable as a fear based upon skin color. And if we surrender to that fear, then we become the Bull Connors of the 21st century using hoplophobia as an excuse for oppression and hate. 

And we can deal with this unreasonable fear, not only with facts and statistics, but with opportunity. We can cite Lott, Kleck, CDC, Harvard et. Nauseum, and people might eventually see the light. One of my favorite lines involves identifying the gun carrier when at the mall because you might have to cower behind them – they’re the potential heroes in our midst. We can also invite people to take our classes, and/or we can show them directly by taking them to the range. Show them that gun owners don’t;’ have horns and practice human sacrifices when the lights go out. And who knows? They might become great fans of our sport. 

So we have discussed how we denigrate the second amendment by allowing comparisons between it and recognized privileges (how long before the left cries  ‘gun ownership should be a privilege not a right?’) and when Quislings like Metfcalf bleat about ‘reasonable infringements’, let us frame the discussion in light of other BOR level rights. When we do that we rise above logistical claims and fears and start understanding what it at issue. Not ‘gun rights’ but BOR rights where an assault against one is an assault against all. 

Please allow me to leave you on this note: the nature of government is to govern. Whenever an issue comes before it, government will unfailingly take the side that makes governance easier. Freedom is an anathema of easy governance. Hence the tension between freedom and authority that we see as a threat to tour way of life. The Grima Wormtongues of both parties espouse different strategies to the end of easier government, not personal freedom. I guess which side you’re on depends upon what kind of world you want to leave to those who follow.




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