Thursday, 20 December 2012
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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
That text is pretty clear as to the plain intention of the authors. It does not say: anybody has the right to possess any sort of weaponry he fancies, to do with as he pleases, for fun or self-defense or intimidating his neighbors, or – even – to defend himself, his family, and the rest of the community, against the evil hordes who soon will invade suburbia. It speaks clearly of the intention to maintain a ‘well regulated militia’, i.e. a military force consisting of the free citizens of the country, with a stake in the survival of the state, able and willing to stand up to foreign invaders. That, and that only, was the intention of this amendment.
The inspiration for this was, of course, the American Revolution, in which those same Free Citizens stood up against the standing army of England sent to subdue them and bring them back into the colonial fold. America, dear reader, was something new in the 18th century. It was a country run by Burghers, by commoners, by folk like you and I. And this was the essence of the thing. In the old continent, ever since medieval times, commoners were forbidden to bear arms, which was a privilege of the nobility, meant to guarantee aristocratic hegemony. The Second Amendment clearly meant to break ruthlessly with the vestiges of that tradition. This made plain sense. It was what the times demanded, for the survival of the nation.
But do modern times still demand the same thing? Hmmm… Not really. Let us face it once again. The world, and America, have changed. Today, what is left of a Militia in the States plays a very minor role. National defense no longer depends upon it. America now has its own professional, standing army. And weapons have changed considerably. What the founding father envisioned was the honest citizen or pioneer, with a one-shot musket or rifle, mounted, at the most, with a bayonet. They certainly were not thinking of rapid-fire weapons that kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds, in the hands of any disturbed adolescent.
Why are these modern weapons allowed today? Only because of a most arbitrary criterion, dear reader. For, as I explained in my last posting, in a somewhat sarcastic manner: one might as well accept that ICBM rockets or battle tanks are weapons whose possession ‘shall not be infringed’. However, I have no doubt that no judge anywhere in the US would uphold that right; and I have no doubt that even the Supreme Court would rule that he was right to forbid private possession of nuclear warheads. Ecco: there are weapons whose possession, even under this constitutional amendment, the state may indeed ‘infringe’. And that is legal precedent. It opens the door to a stricter interpretation. One that forbids all assault weapons, all automatic and semi-automatic guns. Everything, in fact, more powerful or destructive than a handgun or a hunting rifle.
I still had some other thoughts I wanted to elaborate on, but this post is already long enough and time is short before I set out for my yearly Christmas destination off Madagascar. So let me just close this discourse with a simple reasoning which I hope you will all consider:
A madman with his bare hands, may kill one person. A madman with a knife may kill three. And a madman with a gun kills dozens of people before he can be stopped. Yes: it is people who kill people. But a person with a gun kills many more people than a person without one.
My apologies for a lengthy, and awfully earnest, post. And Peace On Earth to you all!