The struggles of a catholic progressive

ImageIt’s a timely subject; does the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantee all citizens the right to bear arms? The knee-jerk reaction of most of us is to respond, “Of course.” We have heard most of our lives that that is the case. But how many of us have read the Second Amendment, and listened to the words as plain spoken words, not some edict from on high? Read it with me, as passed by the Congress:


“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.”


As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:


“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.”


Several commas are missing in the second version, but it does not change the argument; Because the United States, a new country which does not have a standing army, and just fought a revolutionary war with squirrel rifles and a militia made up of farmers, these same farmers who fought the war, and who stand ready to protect the country if needed, shall not be prohibited from keeping their squirrel rifles where they can get to them in a hurry.


That’s what I see when I read the second amendment. I read it in the context of the time and circumstances it was written. Does it stand the test of time? Does it apply to modern day citizens? The court has recently ruled that the guarantee is to private citizens, and it applies both to federal and state governments, so that’s the law. But it seems obvious to me that the framers were not thinking of a time when a huge, well-equipped military would be on permanent standby for the defense of the country. They were thinking of citizen/soldiers who had just won the independence from Great Britain.


Additionally, those who today speak of certain “second amendment solutions” to be taken if they don’t get their way at the voting booth are no doubt thinking of the words of the Declaration of Independence, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Many take this to be a statement that means that if the government doesn’t do as we wish, we have a right and duty as citizens to overthrow that government.


Once again, that is not what it says, and it cannot be reinterpreted to mean anything like that. And so we have a segment of the population who believes that the constitution gives them carte blanche to keep any weapon they need to overthrow the government of the United States.


This is, of course, crazy talk. It is against the law to advocate the overthrow the government by force and violence. Your recourse is at the ballot box – and all citizens have the right, responsibility and duty to vote.


Isn’t it interesting that these same people who advocate being able to keep weapons and overthrow the government are also the ones who advocate voter suppression, thus leaving those voters who they would suppress no recourse other than force and violence?


A very large majority of citizens believe that no one except the military should have access to assault weapons, much less tanks and bombs. But a small minority, because of the influence of the National Rifle Association and others and the huge amounts of money they put into the political system, has been able to over-rule the majority of the citizens of this country, and intimidate politicians into refusing to implement responsible governance. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being bullied by the minority.


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