According to the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, “. . .the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. The word “Arms” was deliberately capitalized, a common practice at the time used for emphasis. Since Thomas Jefferson later owned a private cannon, the largest weapon in his day, the term “Arms” to the original framers clearly meant more than small arms one can easily “bear”; note, to “keep” and bear Arms.
The word “gun” is found nowhere in the Constitution, a very carefully worded document. It should also be noted that in the Consitution’s pre-amble, one of the main purposes listed is to “insure domestic Tranquility” (also capitalized). To honestly and correctly interpret the intentions of the framers, everything that follows the Preamble, including all ten original amendments soon added, must be viewed in light of the Constitution’s stated purpose.
For many years, the NRA has been guilty of drawing a non-existent, artificial line down the center of the 2nd Amendment, limiting the debate to guns, knives, grenades and similar small arms. To contend that the 2nd Amendment permits unlimited unregulated private ownership of modern assault weapons, is no more Constitutionally rational than to pretend that the 2nd Amendment allows unlimited private ownership of chemical weapons, nuclear bombs and space-ray weapons, which are also modern “Arms” unknown to the framers.
In order to engage in an honest Constitutional debate, the NRA must admit that, according to their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, we have just as much right to own private nuclear bombs and Anthrax as we do to own a multi-round handgun, none of which existed when the 2nd Amendment was drafted. If we wish to have a society at all, then the 21st Century question is not “if” we are going to restrict the NRA’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment but rather, in what manner are we going to restrict it.
For the record, if any living Americans have the right to argue in favor of restricting the 2nd Amendment, it is Jim and Sarah Brady. And, as the “founding fathers” wisely allowed for, we can always amend what they originally wrote down. A perhaps better and much saner idea would be to amend the NRA, entirely and altogether, by forcing our reluctant media to point out their deceptive and entirely irrational position.
The NRA has no more rational or Constitutional right to limit the 2nd Amendment to an issue of small Arms ownership than the ACLU has a right to restrict the 1st Amendment to their Constitutionally, historically and scientifically irrational interpretation of the known evidence. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson’s re-write of the New Testament, while he was a sitting president, would today include the following wry observation: If conservatives and liberals crawl into a similar dark bed of deception, they will likely both end up in the same bottomless black hole, accordingly.
Does the NRA really defend the 2nd Amendment? You decide.
Link to footnotes and documentation for this article: http://www.freedomtracks.com/500/secondamendment.html
Nashville author, songwriter and homeless advocate.