“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.” US Constitution, Amendment Two
We hear the phrase, “common sense gun laws” often. As someone once told me, “Common sense is the most uncommon thing.” That’s definitely the case with the lame “common sense” laws that politicians, scared to death of the yahoos who would sooner get rid of their kids than their guns, have put forward. But here’s the thing. Contrary to the opinions of brilliant idiots, owning guns “just because” is unconstitutional. But, you say, the Supreme Court ruled it is. I rest my case.
Read the Amendment above. Use your common sense and knowledge of American history to ponder its meaning. That should take about thirty seconds. Now, tell me. How complicated is this? Erudite scholars have analyzed it from here to next Sunday. Argue though they may, this is a case of “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Earth to erudite scholars, stick this in your mouth and smoke it.
When the Constitution was written, a professional army was not considered a good idea. National defense was entrusted to state based militias to which volunteers were to bring their own weapons. The original intent of the amendment, in historical context, should be obvious to anyone with a sixth grade reading level who does not receive a paycheck from the NRA.
I’ve read that law experts “make a lot of the comma.” It’s true 18th century grammar and spelling were less consistent than they are now. But in this case a comma is just a comma. This is made clear by the fact that the opening phrase is not a complete sentence. It establishes a condition that justifies a conclusion that applies specifically to that condition. The comma signifies, “given this, that.” Here is the common sense translation: Condition: Since we need militias to protect our free state, (and we can’t afford to buy guns for the troops), Conclusion: citizens are permitted to own weapons (so they can BYO weapons to the battle.)
Read it again. Does it say anything about the right of an individual to own guns for any purpose other than to fight with a militia? It does not. It was a given in those days, when many people lived in rural settings and hunted for food and required firearms to murder the Native Americans and steal their land, that people needed rifles. However, the Constitution never addressed that aspect of gun ownership at all. That means adapting gun laws to modern reality would in no way be in violation of the specific parameters of the Amendment. Had the Framers anticipated the advent of a standing army and the evolution of weaponry beyond their primitive rifles and pistols do you seriously think they’d say ownership could not be “infringed,” under any circumstances? (“Say, buddy, since my right to bear arms cannot be infringed, while you’re at it, toss in a flamethrower, a tank, fifty grenades and a nuclear tipped ICBM with that AR-15 and twenty thousand rounds.”)
Many rights come with conditions attached. Like the age you must achieve to vote, or blind people being excluded from getting drivers’ licenses. “Hold on,” say the gun nuts, “gun ownership is our God given right.” OK. Show me where in the Bible the word “gun” appears.
Modern day definition: Militia: A White supremacist terrorist organization. Therefore, an updated version of the amendment should read: A well regulated militia being a terrorist organization, the right of members of said militias to keep and bear arms will be totally infringed.
The amendment outlived its purpose as soon as we formed professional, standing armed forces. It’s long past time for it to be repealed and replaced with real common sense gun laws for our time. How long would an amendment such as the following one last before being expunged? “Horses and buggies being necessary for transportation, the right of the people to keep and bear buggy whips will not be infringed.”
The American love affair with guns and violence being so pervasive and powerful, changing this amendment is virtually impossible. There it is again. Given this, that. Did you need an erudite scholar to explain it to you? Since a large segment of voters would be so enraged if their little toys were taken away, and the NRA would be a lot more tightfisted with their financial support of conservative politicians, and, by the way, their ultra-conservative Supreme Court appointees, lawmakers employed erudite scholars to enable judges to insist that what looks like a cigar, smells like a cigar and tastes like a cigar is not a cigar. The amendment, rather than having been replaced by a common sense one, was merely interpreted, in a completely irrelevant and irrational manner, to suit the purpose.
Read the DC vs Heller case of 2008, decided by a 5-4 vote and written by, who else, Anton Scalia. He repeated the contention that militias had nothing to do with the right to bear arms so many times, methinks the Justice doth protest too much. This decision hammered the final nail into the coffin of common sense. Or as one of my teachers used to say, the accent was put on the wrong syl-lable. Scalia and the erudite scholars said, “militia-shmelitia, the whole point is the individual right to own an unlimited number of just about any sort of gun for any purpose.”
OK. Let’s talk “rights.” How come the right to bear arms takes precedence over my right and yours to not get blown away by some trigger happy screwball. It’s kind of hard to pursue those supposedly God given rights to life, liberty and happiness when you’re constantly wondering whether you’re in the crosshairs of some idiot with a machine gun.
Here’s another common sense concept that’s backed up by real world statistics. Easy availability is the main cause of gun deaths. Who would of thunk it? Gun violence is much less common in countries that forbid or strictly limit gun ownership than it is here, and their democratic systems of government have remained perfectly intact. Their citizens don’t make a fuss about their more rational gun laws. Americans’ insistence on the right to bear arms, like the refusal to wear masks or get Covid shots, is based in an irrational mindset common in our culture and too complex to go into here. Maybe I’ll give it a shot in a future blog.
Is it just me, or does it make you a little nervous to see big, shaggy, heavily tattooed guys in military attire walking around the streets carrying machine guns to”protect” themselves from imaginary attackers or to “protect” us from peaceful protesters, or to storm the Capitol to overthrow democracy?
My ideal common sense gun law: No one should be allowed to own a gun except a single shot hunting rifle. ( Justices, such as the late Scalia, who champion “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution would, of course, agree the rifle must be a single shot muzzle loaded flintlock as the Authors understood guns to be.) Ownership of all other firearms would be a felony. Owners can sell back their weapons to the government. If they refuse, the weapons will be confiscated. and the owner will face fines, imprisonment or both. Did I hear a heckler out there say, “When pigs fly?” You are absolutely correct. Therefore,
My suggested common sense gun laws: If you want a gun to protect yourself from an unlikely intrusion into your home and if you pass a rigorous background check, you should be permitted to buy only one non-automatic personal weapon that you are forbidden to carry around in public. And if, in the much more likely event, you or a family member winds up on the wrong end of the barrel, your right to avail yourself of thoughts and prayers will not be infringed.
If you want to hunt, fine. But what’s the point of hunting with an automatic rifle? (“Cook up this here possum, Mabel. Only took me fifty rounds to bring ‘er down.”) Be a real sportsperson. Get yourself a single shot hunting rifle with a nice scope.
If you find the beauty of guns so irresistible that you must collect them, let gun manufacturers rack up the profits by producing completely non-functional models (that can’t be altered to become functional.) You could buy a thousand of those suckers to adorn your den wall. Alternatively, you might consider one of a zillion other things to collect. (Just to pick out an example at random, how about my wife’s beautiful handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry and original paintings?)
If you simply can’t find any way to get your jollies other than rattling off round after round until you experience the orgasmic rush of power you crave, go to a shooting range and rent an Uzi for an hour. Heck, rent it for the whole day. Shoot it with glee, and return it before leaving the premises.
I don’t know about you, but personally, I believe many laws that “infringe” on our freedom to do many things, for example, to walk around town naked, make much less sense than ones that would infringe on the freedom to walk around town wielding a machine gun.