Any person of average intelligence possessing only a grade school education has the ability to parse the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and understand that it does not establish the right of individuals to bear arms. If it it did, it would say so.
No, instead the courts — namely the Supreme Court — and politicians have endowed that amendment with the faux individual right status. It is a meld of ideology, history, and tradition that has become mistaken for intent of law.
The irony here, of course, is many of the most likely supporters of the supposedly established right of individuals to bear arms hold up the Constitution as an immutable document conceived by almost god-like men, although no one would go that far out of fear of blasphemy. And yet these great men could not write clearly.
You’d think someone might have said, “Hey, Jim, you know that first and second clause in the Second Amendment, the one that says ‘A well regulated Militia’ and the other saying ‘being necessary to the security of a free State’ seem to suggest that we are talking about the right to bear arms in the context of a well-regulated militia and state security when certainly we don’t mean that.”
A lot of people — a lot of smart people — had the opportunity to consider its language and meaning and no one raised that objection. In 1789, the House of Representatives adopted the amendment as it is today and the states ratified it in 1791.
Of course one might ask, why, pray tell, doesn’t the Second Amendment simply read: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” if that is what it meant? (A silly question, I know.)
When people believe they possess perfect and literal understanding of history or its tests, such certainty can be dangerous and often is self-serving. Just look at the tradition of religion in this country and around the world. It isn’t surprising that people with a propensity to interpret the Constitution with self-serving certainty do the same with the Bible here in this country.
That’s not saying that religious people and gun rights advocates are one and the same always wrong. I don’t believe that. I do believe, however, that the propensity to inform a text with subjective meaning is more consistent among some people more so than others. I also think a lot of these people are good, smart people who can see beyond their personal beliefs and understand a greater good. Unfortunately we’re losing ground to the rest and if that isn’t obvious in this country, you’re not paying attention.
A smart politician made a foolish comment about people who “cling to their guns and religion” on the campaign trail back in 2008. But the only thing foolish about that was speaking the unpopular truth while on a campaign. It’s sad, but that was an entirely non-ironic statement, one that spoke to the problems that we face, as clumsy and insulting as it might have been. Ignorance of the law is no defense, why should it be a defense when defending it?