Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I sent this to Tomm Hartmann on Air America who was discussing the Second Amendment.

Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment: Tom Hartmann of Air America was discussing the etiology of the Second Amendment. He often, to support his opinion, delivers a historical rant about what the Founding Fathers thought in relation to current affairs some 300 years later. Sometimes, I think that his historical analyses as it involves contemporary events are ridiculous. He attempts to make a case for present day policies by historically reviewing the revolutionary war and post revolutionary war period. That can be futile. What "the founders had in mind," especially with respect to the Second Amendment, can often not, it seems to me, be determined and if it can be determined by various writings of our founders, to attempt to apply it to contemporary times is inane. The Second Amendment, of course 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."

What the Second Amendment meant to those who came out of the Enlightenment is different, I think, from what the Second Amendment means today. Our revolutionary fathers were about curtailing the power of the king. The king's standing army was a threat against people who had no guns. I think that is one general fair assessment of why they included the Second Amendment. They wanted the people to have the right to have guns to prevent a tyranny from oppressing any person in each state or that each state should have the right to defend itself from an invasion. The people in each individual state would be able to have guns just in case the government got out of hand or if another country invaded. The founders, I think, wanted the people on par with the government as well as each state to be able to defend itself individually and collectively.

American culture and society today certainly has evolved. The ownership of guns now has nothing really to do with the possibility of overthrowing the government. If one bought a gun with the intent of attacking the government especially now with respect to the Patriot Act they would be doing something treasonous and illegal. No one could overthrow this government with a gun or if a country invades it now is the federal government's responsibility to defend the people.

Guns presently are used not for defense against the government or foreign invaders but defense against individual criminals, sport or for collectors. The question is in this culture, forgetting the etiology of the Second Amendment which is, I believe, meaningless, do we need ad infinitum access with little oversight over the sales of guns even machine guns? The founders NEVER imagined our culture as it has metamorphosed today. Is the Second Amendment as the founders have written it even applicable to our current historical and social milieu? THAT is the question, I believe, one should debate. The etiology of our Second Amendment as it existed in the revolutionary period is nearly irrelevant to the question of gun control as it exists in contemporary times.