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July 15, 2013


The original Constitution was ratified two years before the Bill of Rights (The Ten Amendments) was added, which means, among other things, that the Second and Tenth Amendments  were not in the original document but were added later (in 1791). One could argue that our Constitution which was ratified in 1789 was not such a revered document after all, not if it had to have ten additional amendments within only two years in order to gain the respect and allegiance it has enjoyed since (with the addition of all Ten Amendments and yet others since).

I am not familiar with the political realities of that day in getting something ratified, but if there were no or scant rationale for something to be timely done, then one wonders why the delegates did not wait two more years and ratify a constitution that would have included as much as was agreed on in 1789 plus the amendments – all in one package. (Perhaps they wanted to get rid of the Articles of Confederation and replace it as soon as possible with a federal system since the states-rights governing document was such a failure.) Seniority in adoption is meaningless, of course; all constitutional propositions are on equal footing whenever ratified from the time ratified.

However, it is important to note that those who argue for the transcendence of the Tenth and Second Amendment rights of citizens are mostly the same people. States righters and the right to bear arms crowd are usually indistinguishable. There seems to be a common thread in their common evolution.

It is interesting that American colonists prior to the Revolution bore arms under English rule long before the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. There were Indian wars to be fought, venison and other game to be gathered, posses to be formed on occasion, and, of course, militias and police forces to be armed. There was a frontier to be expanded, natural resources to be exploited, and the ongoing off and on French and Indian Wars to be fought. The English were not into gun control; it was in their interest to have their colonists in America armed to protect and project the influence of the Crown. From all appearances, the English rulers were not thinking that someday their colonists would use such guns to end English tyranny in North America, but that was only one of many mistakes they made by their maltreatment of their colonists here and elsewhere, mistakes that led to the American Revolution and the establishment of the United States of America.

Today, some 232 years after the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, and after considerable success in planting and nourishing a democracy in this country, we are engaged in heated argument about the right to bear arms. Some are using these historical antecedents (fortified by states rights arguments) and the back and forth Supreme Court holdings under the Second Amendment (militia, people or both) to say that history and the Constitution demand that the right of all to bear arms is an organic right under the Second Amendment no government can control, with certain but very few exceptions (sales of guns to serial killers, for instance).

The usual suspects have lined up on one side or the other in this national conversation – the NRA, gun manufacturers and gun lovers everywhere versus the police chiefs, mayors and others in the public sphere who are into public safety and are sick and tired of the nightly slaughter due to proliferation of firearms. While we dally, the morgues are busy.

Some of the right to bear arms crowd have even said that “the people” have to have guns in order to resist tyranny by our own government; that when and if “the Feds” send an army out to seize their guns – then they must have a means to defend themselves from such tyranny in derogation of their rights under the Second Amendment, all but ignoring the fact that the Second Amendment had to do with arming “government troops” (the militia), not arming people to resist them. Further, there is nothing in the historical record to suggest that our English rulers ever controlled the arming of anybody in their North American (until the Revolution, of course) colonies. It was “a given” in a thinly populated eastern seaboard group of colonies which were still frontiers at the time subject to French and Indian wars both official and unofficial. For present day right to bear arms people to talk history is disingenuous. There is little history of gun control in this country, even before we were a country. Recent attempts to control the sale of firearms and registration of gun ownership are rather new, and I must say here that it is an odd priority of government when one must be licensed to drive and the vehicle one drives must be licensed but guns sold or otherwise made available to killers and psychopaths are immune to identification.

Finally, and for several reasons (a few of which are following), the pretended fear that “the government is coming to take our guns and we need guns to protect ourselves” is patently absurd. First of all, the pistols and rifles such people have would be no match for tanks, planes etc., but even more importantly, no American soldier would obey nor would an American general give an order to shoot American citizens unless shot at first, a most unlikely event.

It must be plain from the foregoing that I am for reasonable gun control, but if I were an American soldier and were ordered to shoot a fellow American (whatever he or she believes or doesn’t believe), I would refuse and take the consequences. The idea, after all, is to end the slaughter of Americans, not participate in such a horror, whether soldier or civilian.

I am all for hunters, trap shooters, target practice, and other such uses for guns; but at the same time I am all for whatever reasonable form of gun control there is that will stop or at least reduce the slaughter of Americans, and in this connection as with a military superior, I will not obey an order from the NRA and/or it gun manufacturer funders and campaign fund-dependent representatives in congress to  remain silent and thereby assist in maintaining or increasing the level of slaughter we are forced to endure. To do so would be the equivalent of aiding and abetting murder.

There is in any event a difference between the right to bear arms and the right to use them, and we the people, speaking of rights, have a right to know who possesses such arms via gun registration so as to ferret out the killers and psychopaths among them. The Supreme Court never has and never will rule that the use of firearms cannot be regulated, so let’s get to work on making them unavailable for use by the killers and psychopaths, and if that can be done via registration, licensing, or whatever – I am for it. We the people have at a minimum a right to live in this bizarre argument of abstract constitutional principles versus the real and present danger of becoming just another statistic arriving at the morgue for cause of death determination. Let’s advise our senators and representatives that we are tired of this bloodbath and want gun control on their list of highest priorities – and tell them today.  GERALD  E


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