BACKPAGE EDITORIAL

The Second Amendment Is Invalid

Its relevance disappeared with the dramatic change in weapons technology

The image portrays the Bill of Rights with focus on the Second Amendment
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I am hesitant to put my thoughts concerning the Second Amendment down on paper. Any stand on the issue is destined to stir passionate and often vitriolic responses from the side opposite the stance. Few issues have ever been as polarizing. But as the number of mass killings across our nation continues to grow, and each new horrific episode shakes us like a dog with a stuffed toy, I feel some sense of duty to try to open a dialogue appealing to citizens to really look at our Bill of Rights and recognize what makes the Second Amendment so different from the other nine original rights given to us in 1791.

It is common knowledge that the Bill of Rights was intended to guarantee specific personal freedoms to citizens by protecting the rights of liberty and property against the government. The nation was brand-new, and protecting the country against the type of tyranny from which we had just broken free weighed heavily on the minds of the Founding Fathers. The Bill of Rights was their way of ensuring the new government would never be able to abuse its citizenry in a similar manner. It provides us with protection against our government, should it ever be required.

I do not wish to rehash each amendment in the Bill of Rights, but I highly recommend each of you reads those rights anew and feels the sense of protection they convey. It is in this sense of protection the Second Amendment was originally ratified. It reads, “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.” People needed the ability to keep their “State” free, and possessing and using “Arms” was the way to do that in 1791. A “well-regulated Militia” had just helped the Continental Army defeat the most powerful army in the world, so it was reasonable to expect those same people to be able to protect themselves against tyranny if it raised its ugly head again. I am firm in the belief the Second Amendment was necessary in 1791 and for quite some time after in our country’s evolution. But one item in the Second Amendment that makes it different from the other nine has made its original intention moot and thus a re-examination is necessary.

The word “Arms” is the difference. To many, it means guns. To others, it means weaponry in general. Regardless of how you define “Arms,” the reality is that technology has made “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” a non-issue. Unlike 1791 or any year up until the early 20th century, citizens are no longer in a position to maintain “the security of a free state” with “Arms” unless those “Arms” include weapons on a par with that of the government. It's an irrefutable fact that the evolution of weapons technology since 1791 far exceeds the evolution of the philosophical and political precepts expressed in the Bill of Rights' other nine amendments.

It is this technological aspect which separates the Second Amendment from the others. If Second Amendment proponents were to ask for the right to possess armed fortified Humvees, drone planes or nuclear weapons, they'd find little support. But that is exactly what's required for citizens to fulfill the obligation put forth by the Second Amendment. Common citizens have no legal means to possess the type of weaponry needed to stop a 21st-century government from subjecting them to tyranny. We haven't had the ability to do so for almost 100 years. Once the technology of weaponry was divided into government and public, the ability for citizens to confront their government was compromised. Present day, the ability does not exist at all.

It seems like a small difference, but it is major. The other nine original amendments possess no such association with technology. In fact, that's what has enabled them to remain effective and applicable 220 years after ratification. Take the Fourth Amendment on searches and seizures, for example. It has existed through the technological advancements of the telegraph, telephone, automobile, computer, cellphone and more, yet has remained applicable and effective. The other amendments demonstrate the same ability to evolve over time and be applied to whatever technology comes our way, because they are devoid of any connection to 18th-century technology. The Second Amendment is different: It specifically refers to 18th-century technology and thus no longer can support its original intent. I don’t care how many semi-automatic weapons with high volume magazines an individual or an organization possesses. They've been made inconsequential in regard to the Second Amendment. They are not inconsequential, however, in ordinary, everyday lives, as we have seen over and over.

Here's an absurdity of our current everyday life: We have laws against the number of cats a person can have in a house. Those laws exist because it's a public health issue when too many cats are allowed in one dwelling, and the better interest of the public takes precedence over a citizen’s desire to have lots of cats. That same citizen, however, can legally possess multiple semi-automatic weapons and stockpile scores of high-volume ammunition clips, and he's protected by law. Somehow, that's not a public health issue, and the better interest of the public must take a back seat to individual freedoms protected — ostensibly — by the Second Amendment and its misguided application in a time of weapons technology unimaginable in 1791.

Personal convictions aside, I'm not trying to rid the country of all guns. I grew up in Western Maryland, with the greatest deer-hunting in the country all around me. My family had a well-stocked gun cabinet, as did many of my friends and their families. I have many friends who own handguns for personal protection. To my knowledge, they're all responsible gun-owners, and I feel safe when I visit their homes. These types of guns and their owners are not the issue to me. The issue is the dogmatic application of an amendment which was rendered moot by weapons technology almost 100 years ago. It's unfortunate the Second Amendment is invalid. It served the country well for quite some time; but its time has passed. Unlike its fellow nine amendments, it hasn't been able to stay relevant. Recognizing the difference in the Second Amendment is the first step in adopting new legislation to address it.

Bell is an IT professional with a degree in computer science from University of North Florida. Jacksonville has been his home for 25 years.

3 comments on this story | Add your comment
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braleycarroll

I think the graphic is perfect for this opinion. Not only are the cases blanks, but they are spent blanks.

I don't think the author has a grasp of history, has read the Federalist Papers, or reads rulings from the Supreme Court. In Heller, the court recognized the Right of citizens to own firearms for self protection. In McDonald, it was applied to the states. Neither case mentioned deer hunting.

And the obligatory statement about his family owns guns, he has friends that own guns, probably has a best friend that owns guns. But would you let your sister marry one?

Braley Carroll Thursday, February 28, 2013|Report this

cupsaw413

While Mr. Bell writes a printable essay on his opinion of the 2nd Amendment; he shoots himself in the foot with his own argument.

True the weaponry has dramatically changed in the latter century since our countries founding and there are laws that prevent us from owning some of the more advanced systems that are produced today. However, in his argument Mr. Bell stated that “a well-regulated militia” defeated the most powerful army in the world. This may soon be a challenge we will face in our own generation.

Mr. Bell should re-examine the fact that the 2nd amendment was put in place to protect the 3rd amendment which he conveniently glossed over. The 3rd amendment states, for people not too familiar with the Bill of Rights, “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war but in a manner prescribed by law”. Back in colonial times the British soldiers routinely took advantage of the fact they could drop in to your home or business and consume food, copulate women and confiscate valuables, just because they could. This was part of the tyranny that the Founding Fathers referred to. This is possibly what Marshall Law could allow.

If the current administration has any progress in reducing the capacity for citizens to bear arms, a new tyranny will rear its ugly head again and it will be the citizens who have stand up against it. People like Mr. Bell will be cowering for protection by the very people who stood up for their right to bear arms.

In my lifetime I have been around countless weapons and not one has ever gotten up and assaulted me. They have always been at my disposal to defend me and my family, as they are carried by police, to defend them. The liberal media has labeled them as “assault” weapons, when in fact the vast majority of them are held by law abiding citizens for their defense. If they haven’t been used in an assault, why won’t the media refer to them as ‘defensive weapons’ or ‘target weapons’ or ‘recreational weapons’? Why won’t they refer to a baseball bat or a common kitchen knife as an assault weapon if it is used in an actual ‘assault’?

Mr. Bell should be reminded that the true definition of ‘Gun Control’ is hitting your target. Friday, March 1, 2013|Report this

Jcampbell

Two things seem to interest to me in this 2nd amendment argument. The use of faulty logic is one. And “drawing a line” is the other. Lets take drawing a line first.

The 2nd amendment states“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.” It does not mention “guns”. It specifically says “arms”. A “US government soldier” might be “armed” with an assault rifle, a pistol, hand grenades, and a rocket launcher. IF the citizens of the US wanted to “defend itself” against the US government using arms, they better have all of these and much more.

Where do we draw the line? It seems obvious to me we should not ban all guns. And almost no one is talking abut doing so. But assault rifles with armor piercing bullets and enough ammo in a clip to take out a who neighborhood or classroom in less than a minute?

Logic: “a well-regulated militia” defeated the most powerful army in the world. This may soon be a challenge we will face in our own generation. First if we had faced Great Britain with only our “well-regulated militia” we would be talking about the famous traitor, George Washington. The professional French army and especially their navy and a German drill master won the American Revolution for us.

If a war broke out between our “armed citizens” and our US army and lasted any length of time we would probably kill a lot of Americans and end up under Russian or Chinese rule.

What if I, using my rights under the 2nd amendment, feel I would be safer with a couple of hand grenades in my upstairs bedroom (just in case I am invaded by some kind of gang”? Hand grenades done kill people, people do. Then I get really upset by my neighbors loud party in their back yard. I ask them twice to tone it down, he police don’t stop it, and then something snaps and I toss one of my grenades over the fence.

People get upset. Why does anyone need a hand grenade for defense? And then a 2nd amendment activist writes in and quotes the statistic: More people are killed by hammers than hand grenades!!

In the Heller case the Court concluded that the D.C. gun ban could not stand.  At the same time, the Court recognized that the government can regulate gun rights.  The Court said its decision should not be interpreted to question the right of government to: prohibit felons and the mentally ill from owning weapons, prohibit guns in schools or public buildings, ban certain categories of guns not commonly used for self-defense, and to establish certain other conditions on gun ownership.

So, where do we draw the line? An what kind of logic do we use to make the decision? Sunday, March 10, 2013|Report this

 
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