The extraordinarily contentious gun debate has one major flaw limiting it from attaining successful discussion and potential solutions – honesty. Honesty when applying standards, interpreting meaning and definitions within our founding documents, and assessing the reality of our rights. Our inability to successfully discuss guns in this country lies in the collective’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution.
As flawed human beings, we tend to let our subjective worldview skew objective fact. If context doesn’t fit our narrative, we like to analyze the subject in question until we come up with a rationale that fits our ideals. The Bible is a perfect example of this. Cherry-picking phrases in passages to confirm our own bias is how we end up with a modern, watered-down version of Christianity that has taken over theology. This contextual spin to fit beliefs is also prevalent with the Constitution.
Interpreting the text of the Constitution has become an art form. I say art form because art is infamous for not having an objective standard. Modern society can no longer simply take the text of anything at face value because we run the risk of the meaning countering our own beliefs. This led us to our current political climate, where the men and women entrusted with understanding our nation’s constitution are merely tools of manipulation. Who can manipulate the text convincingly enough to aid in a certain ideological agenda – that is the new criteria for a well-versed judge or politician.
Many Constitutional Amendments have been abused in America’s history. The First Amendment was stepped on via the Espionage Act in Schenk v. United States when it was used to silence communist propaganda during WWI (a ruling that was later overturned). The Fourteenth Amendment, along with a combination of Amendments in the Bill of Rights to establish a “right to privacy,” was incredibly misused in Roe v. Wade. The egregious logical stretch in which the abortion case was argued has garnered bi-partisan agreement among those who study law. Manipulating the context of the Constitution to meet a present political goal is a common and dangerous reality.
It should be noted that a bill of rights was not included in the original drafting of the Constitution. The Federalists believed it wasn’t only unnecessary, but dangerous because it presupposed that government was in charge, not the people. Federalists argued that a bill of rights undermined the establishment of a limited government by suggesting the people’s rights could even be oppressed in the first place, as if the government had that power. They also contended that a bill of rights would confuse the people about where their rights actually came from. As we see now, the Federalists concerns weren’t far off; government intrusion in our lives has only increased with time.
The Bill of Rights and every amendment succeeding it, is worded in a very specific manner. They are not a permission of rights, but instead protections of rights already possessed. The Constitution was designed to restrict government. That’s why the phrase “shall not be infringed” is the catalyst for every right. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. There are no caveats. There are no prerequisites (besides being a law-abiding citizen).
Our Founders understood the necessity to limit government at all costs to ensure the power remained with the people. That’s why the Second Amendment was born. It isn’t for hunting, sport, or even personal protection. It is for the defense against systematic tyranny. The idea that the government has no business infringing on the liberty of the people is the basis for the Second Amendment.
“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 simple statement has been manipulated, twisted, and overanalyzed by anti-gun advocates for years in a desperate attempt to justify regulating an inherent right. This distortion has led to many finding the language of the amendment confusing; however, this is about as straight forward as you can get. It’s brief, precise, and yet extraordinarily broad. This is by design. The Founders intended Americans to have access to weaponry of the military (a well regulated militia) in order to stand a fighting chance to safeguard a free State against government, and that this truth is inherent and shall under no circumstance be breached. Period.
The Founders knew what they were doing when they worded the Second Amendment. They purposely left no room for the imagination. If they intended for restrictions to be applied, they would have stated such. The scope of which the amendment extends was diligently crafted. To reject the notion that the Second Amendment ensures the individual right to own and bear arms is a rejection of history, the Founders’ intent, and blunt self-evidence.
If we are going to be logically honest and constitutionally consistent, the only legally possible solution to implementing any type of gun control is to amend the Constitution as to restrict our right to bear arms. Whether or not you believe gun control is the answer does not hold an ounce of weight to the fact that the smallest move to inhibit our Second Amendment rights is unconstitutional. And make no mistake; an infringement of any rights is setting a precedent to infringe on others. Give the government an inch and they’ll take a mile.
Allowing interventions of our rights means constitutional context is arbitrary, rendering it virtually useless. Watering down government’s interventional restrictions is the gateway of losing self-governance. The Constitution is not the only line of protection of our rights; an armed populace aids in proper self-governance. We are the main line of defense. History is evidence of this. From Hitler to Lenin to Castro, every repressive regime disarmed its citizens.
With the news coverage dominated by mass shootings, gun control proponents argue that the public safety overrides certain rights; particularly your right to bear arms. This falsely presupposes that guns are the issue and that gun control is the solution. There is not a shred of evidence (and actually evidence of the contrary) that red flag laws, universal background checks, or any strict gun legislation leads to less gun violence. In fact, states that do have these laws in place have some of the highest gun homicide rates in the country.
Regardless, the core issue is that once we start thinking about collective safety over liberty, we are voluntarily handing over our self-governing powers to the government. The bureaucrats in Washington will be the mediators of our personal decisions.
There is equilibrium when it comes to freedom and safety. When the people are accountable enough to handle unwavering freedom responsibly, there is collective safety. If society feels too much freedom is resulting in consequences outside the window in which they are willing to tolerate, the collective will start seceding on their rights. At first, there will be perceived safety temporarily following regulation. But there is a law of diminishing return. Repressed rights will inevitably lead to even less safety than we began with, as only those who hold power and those who transcend the rule of law will act in accordance to their own self-interest at the expense of others who are exceedingly vulnerable.
There will never be total safety under any system of governance, but the goal is to optimize it. The Constitution, with the help of the Second Amendment, is the key to optimized security. Under no constitutional rationale is there justification to intrude on our right to bear arms. It is our strength, not our weakness. It is our moral sword, not our vice. The power of the people lies with those who abide by the rule of law, armed and ready to protect the innocent and the oppressed. No man, no party, no government has the authority to intervene on a vital tool of self-governance. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
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