Why the Second Amendment has Nothing to Do with Hunting.
I have been away from blogging for a while. To be honest, I was busy with personal issues, but also hoped that Obama was going to be a one-term president. I guess I was wrong.
What has lured me back today is the way in which my state and federal government, and many of my friends, are talking about the Second Amendment. Two weeks ago, my governor, Andrew Cuomo, argued that gun ownership had gone too far in respect of the rights afforded to the citizens. He passionately argued that no one needs a 10-round magazine to kill a deer. It is true that no one should need 10 bullets to kill a deer, but the Second Amendment does not restrict my rights to deer hunting or even personal safety. Moreover, it is facetious to argue that an average citizen could effectively protect themselves with less than 10 bullets when two well-trained and seasoned NYPD officers needed 16 bullets to stop one man in broad daylight at the Empire State Building.
More importantly, my rights to bear arms are not limited to deer hunting or preventing violent crime. The Second Amendment does not even limit my rights to “bearing guns” or “bearing rifles,” but “arms” of any kind. My right to bear arms is fundamentally linked to my duty to put down a government that becomes tyrannical. For that, we need a lot more than 10 bullets. I would argue I need tanks, fighters, bombers, ships, missiles and a whole host of other arms.
The Bill of Rights was passed after a long, brutal war of independence brought on by abuses and violations of a tyrannical king who governed through a distant bureaucracy that infringed the rights of the people. (Does that sound familiar, at all?) The Constitution gave more power to the central government than many of the founders would have liked, so to ensure our own government would not remake the mistakes of King George, the Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights. The other 9 amendments say:
1. You (the central government) cannot prevent me (the citizen) from speaking, meeting, publishing or worshiping how or with whom I choose.
3. You cannot keep soldiers in my home.
4. You cannot search me or my property or arrest me without reason.
5. You cannot deprive me of life, liberty or property without due process of law and you cannot compel me to testify against myself.
6. If I am tried for a crime, you must do it quickly and you must give me a chance to confront my accuser.
7. If I have a dispute with someone over substantial value, you must decided it by jury, not by judges subject to whim or favoritism.
8. You cannot impose cruel or unusually punishment.
9. You cannot do anything unless it is specifically listed in here.
10. Anything not permitted to you or prohibited to the local government is the responsibility of the local government.
That is a list “9 ways not to be abused by your government.” It addresses specific tactics that King George used to impair the freedom and rights of the American colonies. I find it hard to believe that intelligent people can honestly read that list, in full historical context, and say the Second Amendment is nothing more than “2. We like hunting.” That would have been a non-sequitur, tantamount to the Founding Fathers throwing in “Martha Washington makes the best pies.”
I will take, as a limitation to the Second Amendment, that the phrase “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,” means that gun ownership should be conditioned on training, regular meetings, and some form of (non-government) organization. That would probably be a good thing, and could be a far better way to ensure that guns do not get into the hands of people battling mental illness. But hunting, and protection from criminals, has got nothing to do with it.