Sunday, May 20, 2007

The people

One of the favorite arguments of the antigunners is that the right to bear arms is inextricably linked to the need for a militia. Ignoring for a minute the structure of the unorganized militia, the speeches and letters of the founders, and the grammatical structure of the Second Amendment, let's look at their statement (I know we're ignoring a lot here, but bear with me).

If the Second Amendment is supposed to be taken as only applying to those who actively participate in the militia, we are left with the argument that the amendment only gives the militia the right to bear arms. If we consolidate portions of other amendments, what do we get? Well, the First Amendment starts with religion. Is it saying that churches, not individuals, get to excercise freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peacably assemble, and the right to petition for redress of greivances? No one would ever make that argument. What about Amendment V? A person who chooses not to self-incriminate may not be tried twice for the same offense, nor can that person's property be taken for public use without just compensation?

Of course, no one would ever make those arguments. How about the idea that "the people" are the militia in the Second Amendment? We'd have to assume that "the people" would be the militia throughout the Bill of Rights, then, right? So the militia may peacably assemble or petition for redress of grievances? The militia has the right to be secure from unwarranted searches? Or the Ninth and Tenth Amendment mentions of "the people," in which the militia would then be assured rights not mentioned?

Okay, maybe it is the states, as so many antigunners like to say. States can't be searched without a warrant, they can peacably assemble, and they may petition for redress of grievances. And "any rights not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are delegated to the States respectively, or to [the states]." Whoops, it looks like somebody may have meant for "the people" to mean something different than "the States."

The antis aren't just confused about the meaning of the Bill of Rights, they are actively perverting it. It's dishonesty, not ignorance, that drives the movement. And the sooner we recognize that, the better. Too many gun folks have said that it's just confusion; they mean well, but they just don't know. That's the sort of manure that keeps us from pressing the issue as well as we could.


AlanDP said...

I have never believed that they "mean well."

Drew said...

That's because you think these things through, Alan, rather than simply figuring that both sides are partially correct, as some would do. There's a correct side, and you're on it, fighting for it.