I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. It might be one of those midlife crises of which I’ve always heard. It might be that I’m just over a week returned from a trip to my old home town in Louisiana and loved the people I had a chance to see again and feel saddened that I could not see everyone. It might be that for the first time since being afflicted to the point of being bedridden by an invisible illness in October 2007, my recovery is at the stage where my physical limitations aren’t clearly evident to those who see me. It was not until December 2009 that I received a true diagnosis after finding my way to Johns Hopkins. Even then, the message given to me was that things would get a lot worse before I saw any improvement. Long gone are the days of vomiting multiple times every day, crawling to the restroom because I lacked any sense of balance, and having super sensitive hearing which made a fly walking on a window feel as if a truck were driving over my skull. On a positive note, I will be working more on bringing awareness to invisible illnesses and vestibular disorders in particular. Too many suffer effects which you really have to experience in order to understand the crippling impact and often you feel alone when you are not.
I’ve thought about many of the recent conversations I have had with friends from grade school and high school about political matters. In the past 4 years, I remember issues such as Obama is going to eliminate fishing in the Gulf and Obama is going to prevent children under the age of 16 from working on farms. I must be naïve to the fact that many of my old friends are true criminals even though most would give anyone the shirt off their back or risk their own life to save the life of a total stranger. They’re criminals because I have seen photos of some really nice speckled trout, redfish, and even a good sized and fantastically colored tarpon along with a few bass which I know were smaller than claimed and chests overflowing with bluegill and sac-a-lait. There have been photos of kids on tractors and picking crops and a video of a boy who brought flashbacks of his Dad bushhogging as his son also left these curved lines and scraped the earth in the field. His Dad had me to resharpen the blades years ago, and hopefully his son has a similar friend or his Dad now understands cutting without making any level adjustments and does not inflict the punishments his Dad gave to him years ago.
Today, so much is being said by individuals regarding the 2nd Amendment and the intent behind that addition to the Constitution. With the exception of selected quotations, personal papers in total and other primary sources are not found in most discussions or media reports. Whether these omissions are intentional or not is for someone else to decide. I’m not attempting a scholarly lecture here, but simply addressing a point which I think everyone needs to consider when they invoke the “true” intent of those 27 words.
First consider a time frame: The Treaty of Paris of 1783 ended the Revolutionary War. At the time our government was the Articles of Confederation. By 1787, the individual states of the Confederation were in disarray. The existing government made the process of amending virtually impossible with the amount of approval necessary. Delegates chosen to amend the Articles decided upon themselves to create a new form of government. They by-passed the existing state governments for special ratifying conventions and the Constitution became our government in 1789. In 1791, the Bill of Rights was added.
As many accept, the Founders feared both a monarch and a democracy, so they drafted a republic. Examples of that fear would be the British monarchy and the increasing discontent among the masses in France leading to its revolution. Thus in drafting the Constitution, they created various checks on the majority of the population. For example, voting rights were within state control and differed from state to state. Still, the right to vote was essentially limited to white male Protestants who owned property. Couple that limitation imposed by the states with these checks in the Constitution. The only Branch of the Federal Government elected by the population would be to the House of Representatives. The Members of the Upper Chamber, the Senate was chosen by the legislators of each state. The President was chosen not by the people or Members of Congress, but by a separate entity called the Electoral College.
The franchise right (right to vote) began to change where a majority of white males of age previously disenfranchised could vote in the 1830s. Those of African ancestry would have to wait until after the Civil War. Women, with the exception of some individual territories and states, would wait until the 20th century. The direct election of United States Senators did not happen until the 20th century. Even the secret ballot where your votes were not publically known did not become common until after a push by agrarian farmers in the late 1880s and 90s. Even today, we do not elect a President of the United States by popular vote.
If the writers of the Constitution took measures to prevent significant actions to participate or change the government of the United States by the right to vote, would they have intended to give those same individuals the rights to participate or change the government of the United States by the usage of weapons? Does a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State = the common people?
My opinion is that in the infancy of the United States, it did not in the eyes of the signers of the Constitution. As the country matured, however, I believe they envisioned an equaling of the Militia with the individual. On so many matters, the Constitution is broad and allows for a growing document to reflect the times without need for radical changes. In spite of what many argue, I do not see a document meant to be strictly interpreted. If it were, many of the things we have today would not be possible. In my opinion, the key is the spirit, and that spirit is contained within the Preamble starting with WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES….
The things that are necessary to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity change because we and the world changes over time. How else could our Constitution be so small compared to State Constitutions and even warranty cards, rebate applications, rental agreements, and everything associated with purchasing a house?
Personally, I do not see any of these proposed measures written in the form of Executive Actions or any of the proposals which must go through Congress as threats to the 2nd Amendment. In a simple business position, I think that people selling from a traditional store on Main Street should have the same general requirements as someone selling online, at a show, or in private transactions. My opinion applies to guns or any other product. Whether I choose to buy something online or in a store, I expect the same quality for the same item. Differences should be about brands, size, cost, and so on, but an “ACME Coyote Anvil with a Roadrunner plus rating” purchased from Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, or Joe’s Knowledgeable Hardware for 4 generations, should be of the same quality.
I’ll admit that under our Constitution, the United States has seen certain rights suppressed at certain times such as with Sedition Acts during the World Wars and countless other suppressions and restrictions. Some I would argue were wise, others as foolish, and others as wrong. The difference between the United States and country like Afghanistan, however, can be traced back to an action by John Adams which up until that time had not really been seen in the world. By election, not military force or any other coup, John Adams gave up the Presidency of the United States to a rival faction. The dispute in that election was not between the Federalist Adams and the Democratic-Republican Jefferson, but a conflict between Jefferson and Burr over who would assume the office. Since that time, the House decided the Election of 1824, a Compromise gave the 1876 Election to Hayes over Tilden, and in 2000 we had that craziness. Still, with the exception of the period from 1861-65, the United States government worked together regardless of factions present as the Executive office passed from one ideological group to another. Not many countries that elect leaders can make that claim for a similar period of time. The majority of Americans do not adopt a “propaganda of the deed” mentality when it comes to our government.
Perhaps in the future the US government might attempt a sweeping suppression of the population. I find that unlikely in that there are ways within the system to change our government, and our government has changed dramatically from 1789 to 2013 in ways where anyone can find both good and bad regardless of your political ideology. I would probably argue that the Palmer Raids in 1920 were the most sweeping attempt at suppression by the US government. While A. Mitchell Palmer impacted a lot of people, the suppression was ultimately stopped. I would also argue that issues such as the post WWII Red Scare and various Civil Rights issues should be included as suppression, but did not choose a particular event because the population surrounded by an emotional fog played a prominent role as well with the government.
I see a breakdown of society and individual responsibility on all sides; a neglect of the fundamentals and a desire to run before learning to stand. I see both sides wanting to blame the other for issues instead of recognizing the issues and working to solve them. In regard to the 2nd Amendment, will any of the proposed measures solve gun violence? No. Would more or less guns be the answer? No.
The issue is about promoting safe and responsible usage and trying to educate on safe handling and storage practices of guns just as you would any other tool that possesses such power. I pay closer attention when I am using a chain or circular saw versus a handsaw, and I think most people do as well.
Criminals will not follow laws, so we need to look at that issue which in my opinion is more complicated because of more variables than just arguing guns or no guns. These proposals by the President and Vice President aren’t end all solutions, but a starting point with much additional work and ideas needed from everyone for the future.
I think extremes on both sides profit by promoting panic and that most individuals actually have more in common about guns than the media and lobbyists want us to believe.
The House seems unwilling to discuss these issues on the Floor, so let the Senate take the lead and address each issue separately with an up or down vote. Those which pass should be sent to the House to either amend and return to the Senate or vote upon as is. Again, any amendments should address the actual issue of the bill and not become some rider. While the Senate conducts that business, the House can address the myriad of financial issues and the budget. Again, each issue regarding funding should be in a separate bill and presented on the Floor for an up or down vote. Those which pass are then sent to the Senate to either amend and return or vote upon as is.
In other words, we have 535 individuals actually working, actually having to make a public vote on individual subjects and not trying to either hide things in an omnibus bill or use a singular issue as an excuse for their vote. Yes, it would be a lot of legislation and work, but the constituents would actually have a written record on if their representative represents their positions, has his own legitimate positions, or is controlled by some special interest group. Also, given the amount of legislation actually being brought to either the Floor or the House, the increase in votes might be enough to bring this particular Congress to a number of votes somewhere near the average of previous Congresses. Neither Chamber seems willing to actually put measures up for a vote. Just make a graph of filibustering and cloture attempts, and you will encounter a rise faster than the deficit and more vertical than a trip to the moon. The President will be accountable because he will be forced to decide to sign legislation, let it become law without his signature, or veto the Bill. As long as Congress remains in session, there are no easy outs for either side with a pocket veto.
Will anything happen? Unfortunately I doubt it because as long as WE THE PEOPLE continue squabbling amongst ourselves our law making Branch under the Constitution can enjoy the show, and they can blame the President just as we blame either the right or the left or whichever happens to suit us best at the time. It’s sad from an academic standpoint that many seem to advocate the Constitution, but fail to recognize that many of the rights we take for granted today resulted from the blood, sweat, and tears of future generations in adapting the basic principles of our government to meet the needs of their time and place in history. Nothing in life is easy, and honestly would life be enjoyable if things were easy and everyone agreed all the time. Still, we need to work together if we hope to solve our problems.
That’s my 4 bits on the subject. Please before labeling me as either pro gun or anti gun, please read some of my other postings on the subject. Regardless of someone’s personal position, my writings on the subject tend to have people on both sides labeling me either in their direction or the opposite. Personally, I think that most people are in the middle like me and should find both agreement and disagreement in my opinions in reference to specifics and might agree overall in concept. That’s a 2 bit lagniappe for those who read to the end.