There isn’t enough space in 500 words or so to give a complete history of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. So here’s the short version:
In 1649, after a bloody fight with the King’s army, the English people executed Charles I and Oliver Cromwell became the first Republican leader of Great Britain. Cromwell was a general, and led with an army. After his death, his son proved to be an ineffective leader, and during the chaos, the English people decided to return to monarchy. The heir to the throne, Charles II, was recalled from France and placed on the throne.
Charles II had paid attention. Having an army wasn’t enough to keep his father’s head on his shoulders. The people had to be disarmed, as well. And after a series of attempts at disarmament, scaring the people with constant warnings of plots against the Crown, the game act of 1671 was passed by Parliament and disarmed nearly every Englishman on the pretext of protecting wild game from illegal poaching. The king continued to harass the people, now disarmed, with oppressive laws, until the people remembered their freedom and reached out to William of Orange, a Dutchman, married to Mary, sister of the king. They invited them to come on over and free them from this tyrant in exchange for the throne. They insisted, however on a bill of rights being signed – including the right to bear arms. The new King and Queen readily agreed, and the English right to bear arms became part of their “ancient” rights.
This was the history which every American colonist knew. And when in 1774 Lord Dartmouth, the Royal Secretary of State for America wrote to the Massachusetts Governor, Thomas Gage indicating that he would need to disarm the colonists, and Gage began house to house searches for weapons, they saw the handwriting on the wall. It was time.
Fast forward to 1791. The people have been asked to ratify a new constitution, which gives a great deal of power to a newly formed federal government. While they are willing to enter into a new arrangement with this government, they want a written bill of rights in return. (Remember William and Mary?) We have the first 10 amendments to the constitution as their demand was met. James Madison, among others, sifted through hundreds of suggested “natural rights possessed by free men”, and came up with 12 to put forward for a vote by the American people. 10 passed. Among the protections from the government, the bill of rights included a right to bear arms.
So quite honestly, it’s not about crime. It’s not about hunting. It’s about protecting our freedom from an oppressive government. And they know it. That’s why they want your guns, and your right to bear arms taken away.
But if the 2nd Amendment goes, what about the 1st? Will there remain freedom of political speech? Freedom of assembly? Freedom to petition? What about the 4th? Will you remain secure in your papers and person from unreasonable searches? What about the 5th? Will you continue to be free from being coerced to testify against yourself? Can you still depend on due process before you are deprived of your property or your life?
Slippery slope, indeed.
Steve Kerr, who should stick to basketball, gave an impromptu impassioned speech during an interview. He said that “what bugs me is this adherence to the right to bear arms, you know. That was back in 1776. People didn’t own automatic rifles. You had to have a musket in case the Redcoats were coming. The British were coming. And the beautiful thing about the Constitution is they left open amendments to change things because things change over time.”
No the British are not coming, anymore. But the Muslims are. And the street thugs are. And maybe, in our future, a despotic government is.
And from the Register-Guard from Eugene OR: The gun lobby asserts that the Second Amendment protects all of our other constitutional rights. It couldn’t be more wrong. If the Constitution were written today, the current Second Amendment either wouldn’t appear or would be written differently to reflect the realities of the 21st century.
When James Madison and his colleagues wrote the Second Amendment, “arms” were single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles and muskets, “militias” were real, and murderers with guns couldn’t dream of achieving national infamy on television and social media.
None of those circumstances is true today. The Second Amendment is obsolete. The Second Amendment obviously stands as the ultimate obstacle to halting gun violence.
There are valid reasons for gun ownership, e.g., self defense and legal hunting. In the absence of the Second Amendment, valid gun ownership could be protected through strict laws proscribing criminals and potential murderers from possessing guns.
We’ll pass by the obvious flaw in this argument that strict laws will keep criminals from having guns. Can you trust Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi, or anyone in Congress in recent memory to “protect through strict laws” your “valid reasons for gun ownership”? They couldn’t in 1791 either. That’s why they wanted it in writing, in the 2nd amendment.
Recently, in Rolling Stone, David Cohen, a constitutional law professor said that “sometimes we just have to acknowledge that the Founders and the Constitution are wrong. This is one of those times. We need to say loud and clear: The Second Amendment must be repealed. …”now is the time to acknowledge a profound but obvious truth – the Second Amendment is wrong for this country and needs to be jettisoned. The Second Amendment needs to be repealed because it is outdated, a threat to liberty and a suicide pact. We need a mass movement of those who are fed up with the long-dead Founders’ view of the world ruling current day politics. A mass movement of those who will stand up and say that our founding document was wrong and needs to be changed. The Second Amendment must be repealed, and it is the essence of American democracy to say so.”
Do you think these are fringe voices? Do you believe that “good people in the government” would never let bad things happen here? That’s what the Jewish population of Germany thought in the years leading up to 1938. As German citizens they had gone along with the laws of 1928 requiring permits to purchase firearms. Then came the laws of 1933 restricting Jewish ownership of firearms, and house to house searches. Finally, in 1938, the only persons allowed to have weapons were Nazi-party “soldiers”. And then – Kristallnacht.
You’ve been asking, “how will I know it’s time?” It’s time.