Thursday, October 29, 2009

The 2nd Amendment Kinda Blows..

I like to deer hunt and would probably also like to go turkey hunting though I've never been and so accordingly Im sort of in the market for a scoped deer rifle and perhaps a .12 gauge. When I've gone hunting in the past its just been much easier and cheaper to borrow something from my brother in law's arsenal.

I say that for context.....

The 2nd amendment is I think easily the most problematic of the first 10. As we interpret it now it amounts to a golden guarantee that many people will die as a result of gun violence.

Im going to say something else that's crazy. The NRA aint all bad. I'll grant you every whacked out hysterical conspiracy and gun nut rant if you'll grant me that they do in fact do more than any other organization to promote responsible gun use. Now I'd like it much better if they didn't at the same time enable so much irresponsible gun use but our culture is such that we can't currently separate one from the other and I j'accuse the 2nd amendment.

As a wanna-be Constitutional scholar these are the issues as I see them...

First of all I don't think we're readin' the damn thing right. This question is finally going to get some SC love in this term I believe but the amendment says this:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"

A little different from the bumper stickers you see from the Cold Dead Hands crowd isn't it? It strikes me as clear as clear can be that the amendment was written to address gun ownership in the service of a larger point, namely national security at a time when standing armies weren't terribly popular. Had the framers simply wanted to say that gun ownership was a universal right subject to no conditions they certainly would have. They didn't. They made it contingent and in doing so I think clearly left the door open for reasonable restrictions. To read the amendment otherwise seems to me to be an obvious case of conservative judicial activism or reading the Constitution with a social bias.

A blanket interpretation is anachronistic. Clearly guns mean different things in different locations I think its impossible to take a responsible approach to guns that does not take that into consideration.

As I type this in Chicago there is no good reason for me to hear gunfire outside my house. It can only be bad. If I were in rural Missouri or Oklahoma where I've gone hunting and I were to hear gunfire it really wouldn't mean much at all regardless of whether it was hunting season or not. So why do we tolerate laws that assumes gun shots are the same every where? Doesn't it strike you as the height of common sense that gun laws in heavily populated areas would be different from gun laws in sparsely populated areas? Of course it does and of course local governance is a cornerstone of conservative politics. But not here. And children are dead and more will die because of it.


  1. You need to read the federalist papers to understand that the 2nd meant that each and every person is guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms.

  2. The federalist papers are commentary and not law. Opinions are just that.

  3. I agree with a lot of your other remarks,
    but did you actually look up "Militia" in the dictionary?
    And do you really think, upon reflection, that after a long hard fight to get out from under King George's army and taxation, that they would intend for only a standing army to be armed?

    Ever been to Switzerland?