Monday, July 29, 2013

Annals of American Idiocy – The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution

Celebrating All The Bad Ideas in American History, Politics and Economics

[Editor’s note:  There are innumerable writings about how great America is and what wonderful things have been done in this nation.  This is one of an irregular series whose topics are all of the things America has gotten wrong.] 

The U. S. Constitution is a wonderful document, a great call to freedom and equality, but that doesn’t mean all of it is acceptable.  Here is one of the worst parts, the 2nd Amendment.

Amendment II
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.

Now the quarrel with the 2nd Amendment here is not about the right to have guns.  In America that right is so embedded in the national psyche that it would be impossible to eradicate.  It would be nice if guns were much better regulated, like getting them out of the hands of crazy people and getting automatic weapons out of everyone’s hands, but that is not the subject at hand.

No what the issue here is the language of the 2nd Amendment.  It is gibberish.  It is meaningless.  No one knows what a ‘well regulated Militia” is or is supposed to be.  How did the Founding Fathers want Militias to be regulated?  And does the right to keep and bear arms relate to a Militia or is it just a right in general.  And what exactly is a Militia?  And does the term "free State" refers to the individual states or the nation as a whole?

In short, Madison and Monroe and all those other great men really blew this one.  If they wanted states to have armies, they should have said so.  If they wanted private citizens to have an unlimited and unregulated access to every gun type imaginable, they should have said so.  Instead they left the nation with an unintelligible mess.  And the result, automatic assault weapons litter the nation and we all have to endure the NRA.

The 2nd Amendment – Another chapter in the Annals of Idiocy in America.

1 comment:

  1. Only the Second Amendment contains a preface ("A well regulated Militia ...") before it describes a right. The other amendments jump right in ("Congress shall make no law ...").

    The Framers likely added this preface because they thought bearing arms should have something to do with service in a "well regulated Militia." As you write, we don't know what a "Militia" is, but the Framers apparently thought it should be "well regulated." Well regulated! That means government restricting who does what with their arms. Again, nothing else in the Bill of Rights even hints at "regulation."

    The first time the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment restricted states' rights to regulate guns was in 2010 - 219 years after the Bill of Rights' adoption. It took that long for the Supreme Court to assemble five justices who were so blind to the words on the Constitution's page.

    The Bill of Rights is full of "shall nots" that really mean "usually shall not." The Second Amendment is badly written, but at least it makes some effort to provide context for the right to bear arms. It looks like that effort wasn't good enough.