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GUEST OPINION: Ask 'who' on 2nd Amendment to know 'why'

Daily Herald

Rick Lynch

With the Supreme Court's decision to examine the constitutionality of D.C.'s gun ban, the nation once again turns to an intense examination of the wording of the Second Amendment. One way to understand an amendment whose words have confused generations is to study its somewhat confusing text. But another way is to examine at whose request the amendment was written.

For example, if 200 years from now constitutional scholars are trying to determine whether the Smith Tax Act of 2008 increased or decreased the taxes Social Security recipients paid on their retirement income, knowing that the act came into being as the result of pressure from AARP would pretty much end that debate.

This, then, is a vital question when seeking to understand the Second Amendment. For if you know the context in which the Amendment was written, if you know for whom it was written, if you know who was clamoring for it and what were their concerns, then that can help settle any argument of individual rights versus collective rights.

The Bill of Rights was written by Congressman James Madison to fulfill a promise made to the Anti-Federalists after pressure from that group had cost him a Senate seat -- pressure brought to bear because of his opposition to amending the Constitution with a bill of rights. The Bill of Rights, then, as any history book will confirm, came into being to satisfy the single most suspicious, vociferous, and relentless foes of the new federal government.

That is the all-important context in which the Bill of Rights was created. The Anti-Federalists, men filled to varying degrees with fear, mistrust, and loathing of the new federal government, insisted on a bill of rights as additional shackles imposed on that new government. Knowing that alone -- knowing that the famous Bill came into existence only to please those most apprehensive of the new government -- definitively ends any confusion or debate surrounding the meaning of the Second Amendment.

There is simply no way on Earth the Anti-Federalists would have surrendered to the new and mistrusted government the right to own any gun they wanted at any time they wanted in any number they wanted.

To believe differently, to believe that the Second Amendment actually gives the federal government the authority to regulate firearms, one must believe the absolutely unbelievable. One must believe that the Anti-Federalists, fearing and loathing federal power, compelled Madison to compose this laundry list of rights, this list of things over which the government was to have no authority, and, very near the very top of the list, these people in fear of the federal government desired a clause that reads, "Despite the fact that Article I, Section 8 does not empower you federal government people to infringe our firearms rights, we hereby correct that mistake and surrender to you a right which we previously held, but wish now to give away."

We must further believe that James Madison was such a monumentally incompetent and abysmal writer that, when trying to give the federal government this new authority to regulate the private ownership of firearms, the last fourteen words of the Amendment read, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

We must also believe that revolutionary American history conceals some hitherto unknown and utterly undocumented groundswell of public desire for gun control. Picture in your mind for a moment the rough-and-tumble individualist who gave birth to this nation, a man who had tamed a wilderness, fought Indian wars on and off for 180 years, and successfully faced down the world's mightiest empire. Hold a picture of that man in your head for a moment and then try to imagine his being told that this new federal government would have the power to regulate his ownership of firearms in any manner it saw fit, including imprisoning him for possession of any firearm for any reason at any time.

No honest or serious person could ever claim to believe that any part of the American electorate in the 1700s desired federal gun control, let alone the Anti-Federalists who forced the creation of the Bill of Rights.

• Rick Lynch is a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation.
 

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Thanks for posting the article - this opinion is very similar to my own following readings of early American history. I have a strong opinion that the founding fathers wanted to keep the citizens' ability to revolt against an evil government through protecting the right to bear arms.
 

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I like this piece and I will tell you why.

I ramble on a bit, apologies for the wordalitynessness.

More often than not when people are asked to defend the second amendment they go with, what are in my opinion, superfluous arguments. "The second amendment is good because x", "Statistics show x", "Guns don’t kill people....", "A gun is a tool.....", "Every adult male in Switzerland has a gun and...”

These arguments are subjective and rely too often on the unreliable: statistics, opinion, and personal preference. The second amendment cares not for these things. It is at its core a moral proposition.

"The grace of morality is that it hath no need for justification" -Me

"To sin is to empower other men against you" -Me

"The fundamental flaw with morality is it stands in direct opposition to practicality" -Me

"The difficult choice is always the right one" -Some movie.

The point I attempt to make with those quotes is simple. We should be talking not about the practical and the justifications of such but of the moral, for they need no justification. Justification is a dirty business practiced by sinners and one rarely strikes a sound blow with them. It is beneath us to engage in such things.

The moral argument is simple: I posses my mind, it is my property and I can prove it. I retain sole control of my mind, I can be deceived and manipulated but it is still me, I and my mind are inseparable. If one cannot separate your mind from you that is the definition of absolute ownership. If I own my mind, as we have proven I do, then I too must own my body. Just as you cannot separate me from my mind you cannot separate my mind from my body. As I own my body so to I must own that which my body does, both good and bad are mine and mine alone. If I perform labors I have a right to the fruit of that labor. This constitutes a clear incontrovertible chain of possession. All of this is fundamental to the concept of self. I think therefore I am. Therefore I am my mind my body and my works.

An undeniable right to that which I think and do brings us to the point. If I and only I can own my mind then I am empowered to defend it at any cost; for loss of it is loss of self. I and I alone bear this responsibility for there is no collective mind; this makes that adage "no man is an island" false. It would be better to say "no man can live as an island". I cannot know what is best for the man next to me; nor have I the right to make that decision for him. In society the only truth I know is I. Although I am an individual I am also a member of the human race but what is best for the humanity is unknowable to me; I can only speculate. I know only one thing for certain, my own mind.

I digress a bit so back to the point. If loss of my works is loss of self I therefore have a right to defend my property from all comers. Man, woman, child, goat, evil shoes, governments, alien invaders, it makes no difference. It is my mind, my body, my property and to deny me the ability to defend it is a sin. That means all things pertinent to that which is mine.

Freedom is my ability to use my property as I see fit. Coercion, deception, and force are the sole means of curtailing freedom. Coercion is legitimate; I can be convicted to sacrifice a gallon of gas to my neighbor who ran out in front of my house (I use this example because it happened to my neighbor Monday). Force on the other hand is sinful; as many have pointed out: behind every government, the laws they make the taxes they levy, is force, always force. To deny me equal force is a sin as its sole effect is to empower the thieves against me.

I use theft in place of other violations often. As I see it all sin, not of a religious sort, can be distilled to theft or taking that which is undeniably mine.

The very idea that lawyers with selfish intent have succeeded in betraying their fellow citizens by deliberately obfuscating something that is perfectly clear to anyone who can read English, the second amendment, and have been so successful we need the highest court in the land to read it for us. I find it shocking, saddening, disappointing and embarrassing that these lawyers have been successful in the criminal endeavor to bilk citizens out of their rights.
 

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Eukatae said:
As I see it all sin, not of a religious sort, can be distilled to theft or taking that which is undeniably mine.
From my limited experience, it seems that all wrong-doing (if you don't want to classify it as sin due to religious usage) is basically the acting out of selfish desires (theft as you call it). We all have self-interest - we wouldn't survive if we didn't. But it is the placing of our own desires OVER those of others, usually at their expense, that causes most of the pain and suffering in this world.

Thanks for the post, it was very insightful.
 
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