Correcting The 2nd Amendment

An excerpt from the book by recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution” is quietly making the rounds, indicating that’s it’s already stirring intelligent debate death threats, especially because he dares to suggest that the 2nd Amendment is not an immutable right.

Stevens writes of a distorted gun control debate: 

“Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands.”

An updated version of the 2nd Amendment, according to Stevens, would read:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.

There. Glad we could finally sort this out before someone got hurt.

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  • GrafZeppelin127

    I’ve practically gotten death threats over my suggestion that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms ought to be considered and treated as a set of property rights, viz., grounded in property rather than liberty.

    One of the commenters on one of my DK diaries summed up the opposition to this idea thusly: “We wants it, precious!

    Another one, this one a gun enthusiast, actually admitted that he and others like him are bothered not by the idea but by the fact that a non-gun-enthusiast (i.e., a freedom-hating authoritarian gun-grabber like me) is making it. They see it as an attempt to “diminish” them (and the precious) by making the RKBA seem less important, less majestic, less heroic, than other “high ideals” like free speech and habeas corpus. Another tried to tell me that “to bear arms” means (and/or meant in 1789) “to wage war,” the “proof” of this being some misleadingly-edited quotations, dishonest citations of dictionary definitions, and the fact that waging war was supposedly debated by the first Congress as a component of RKBA. If “bear arms” doesn’t mean “wage war,” why did the first Congress debate it as if it did? Simple answer: Talking about one thing in the context of another does not make the latter equivalent to the former. Talking about head injuries in the context of pro football does not mean that the phrase “pro football” means ‘head injuries.”

    That’s not to mention the libertarian obsession with property rights in practically every other context. My property rights always trump your liberty interests — but my “liberty” interest in being armed all the time, everywhere I go, trumps your property rights, and any other rights you think you may have that would require me to go or be anywhere, ever, without the precious.

    Yet not one has been able to take me down that slippery slope and demonstrate how gun rights and gun controls, as they currently stand legally and constitutionally, would be affected in any way by treating the precious as property, and their “rights” to the precious as non-infringeable property rights.

    Neither can they explain or answer to this: Even if we grant that the Founding Fathers™ wanted an armed population, and even if we grant that they wanted an armed population so that anyone dissatisfied with the results of the most recent elections could successfully mount the Next American Revolution, they could not and would not have done so without regard to risk. In the 1780s weapons could not be mass-produced, mass-marketed, transported in large quantities over long distances, concealed in one’s clothing or fired more than once or twice per minute. Had they been, the Founders™ would have to have recognized that massive numbers of deadly weapons circulating among the general public unchecked, unregulated, unsupervised and unaccounted for, would create significant risks to public safety.

    The best they can do at this point is either allege that (1) the Founders™ still would have insisted on an armed population, regardless of risk; (2) there is no risk; and/or (3) the risk today is precisely the same as it was in 1790 despite advances in technology, mass production, marketing and transportation. It would have been “far easier,” one of them told me, “far easier,” for Adam Lanza to have perpetrated the Sandy Hook massacre in 1790 with 18th-century weapons, all else being equal, than it was in 2012 with a modern AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. “FAR easier.”

    The Heroes of the Next American Revolution will never allow the Second Amendment to change. The precious is too … well, precious.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      the Founders™ would have to have recognized that massive numbers of deadly weapons circulating among the general public…would create significant risks to public safety.

      Spot on. Hell, they didn’t trust the general public with “the vote”! How on earth could anyone argue that they’d trust everyone with the mass killing machines that modern weaponry has become?!?! The founders didn’t trust the general public with the vote because they felt the masses were not educated enough, did not or could not care enough about the country as a whole instead of their own narrow interests, that they would not understand the necessity of the checks and balances they created to make the system more stable, and that too many decisions would be made based on emotional whims and mob mentality than by reason and logic. If anything, the gun nuts are only proving that the Founders were correct in their estimation of the average American–then and now. Not that I advocate restricting the right to vote, but the Founders wished to limit that most important right to white men who owned property in hopes of achieving a voting block that actually used their goddamn brains. As you’ve pointed out time and time again Graf, logic and reason has nothing to do with why these nuts “need” guns. Facing such an obsessed group of people buttressed with vast amounts of money provided by the conservative 1%, I don’t know how we could get the 2nd Amendment modified. And even if we did…SCOTUS would allow the definition of a “militia” to be wide open…every hunting and/or social club out there would declare themselves “militia” in order to justify their ownership of assault rifles. Then not only would we be dealing with a bunch of gun nuts, they’d be a more organized bunch of guns nuts. And THAT we need to avoid at all costs.

      • Christopher Foxx

        but the Founders wished to limit that most important right to white men who owned property in hopes of achieving a voting block that actually used their goddamn brains.

        And a voting block that would do what they wanted. I’m sure that making sure decisions were made by educated, reasonable, responsible people was a large part of it. But the idea that non-landowners or non-whites were incapable of making reasonable, responsible, considered decisions because they were somehow inherently incapable of doing so because of their economic or racial status was also a large part of it. And how is that not the 1% being racist?

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          Oh, it definitely was racist and let’s not forget sexist. I don’t deny that at all nor do I approve of their reasoning–I’m focusing on their conclusion. I’m simply saying that if they didn’t trust the “mob rule” (their term, not mine) in elections then they certainly wouldn’t have supported a mob rule with modern weaponry.

          • Christopher Foxx

            nor do I approve of their reasoning–I’m focusing on their conclusion

            Yeah. The idea was a good one, but the way they went at it was terrible.

            “We want to make sure that votes are cast in a thoughtful, deliberate way.”

            All for that, Founding Fathers!

            “And we’ll do that by making sure the poor, the negroes and the women don’t vote because they’re incapable of being intelligent or thoughtful.”

            OK, you lost me.

  • Sabyen91

    Death threats, huh? Don’t they realize they are proving peoples’ point that guns should be restricted?

    • mrbrink

      Just your average, virtual cesspool of responsible gun owners making the case for violence against public officials who see things differently.

      It’s amazing how Right wing America continues to go about making assassination a trending topic of discussion, especially when the topic of gun control comes up, and it’s always being whipped up, even when they’re being subtle about it.