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Left and Right on the Second Amendment

The writer Jack Slack – yes, that’s his real name — is politically liberal, so it’s no surprise that he favors gun control legislation, especially on handguns. But he does surprise some of his liberal friends when he says, with emphasis, “I support the Second Amendment as written.”   Here’s Jack  in his own words…

Gun - revolverAmendment II consists of only one sentence.  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.

The Second Amendment, by using “militia,” was only emphasizing why the people should have the right to bear arms, they had no reason to say that a militia must have guns, because a militia is an armed force. Why would they need permission bear arms?

I won’t quote all the Supreme Court rulings supporting the individual mandate of the Second Amendment, nor the framers interpretations right after the amendment was written. Suffice it to say, the Bill of Rights does not place a single limitation on the rights of the people, it only limits the power of government — that is why it is called “The Bill of Rights,” to distinguish it from the rest of the Constitution.  If the Second Amendment curtailed the right of the people by limiting arms to the militia, it would be a limitation on the rights of the people.

Finally, the word “militia” has no bearing on the meaning because in the English language the justifying clause does not limit the operative one. This can be seen more clearly if we use the exact syntax and punctuation with a less emotional subject.  Well educated teachers being necessary to the education of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear books, shall not be infringed.

Did you know that for the first hundred years of the National Rifle Association’s existence, it promoted gun control legislation? The NRA, founded in 1871 by George Wingate stood firmly behind, “reasonable, sensible, and fair legislation”  It supported and promoted The Uniform Firearms Act. It’s three basic elements were that no one is allowed to carry a concealed handgun in public places, gun dealers had to report every sale of a handgun, and it established a two-day waiting period on handgun sales.

The NRA also endorsed the National Firearms Act of 1934, which imposed a steep tax and registration requirements on “gangster guns,” e.g. machine guns and sawed off shotguns. Then in 1963 the NRA’s magazine American Rifleman, supported banning mail order rifles, and in 1968 supported the Gun Control Act which mandated gun registration. It really wasn’t until 1977 when Harlon Carter led the NRA that it refuted all its past support in gun control legislation. Interesting, isn’t it?


More Notes

Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.