Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Monday, August 15, 2005

Round 1 of the Debate by Guest Poster Alex:.

Ok, just a warm up:

"What did the Second Amendment mean when it was ratified, and does it matter today?"

Let me answer the first part of the question with the only definitive answer we will likely produce in this debate: “Nobody knows”. We cannot presume to know what the “single intent” of hundreds of people attending the state ratifying conventions ever was (even they probably couldn’t agree on that). There were few records kept so all we have is, ultimately, speculation. Any idea that we can somehow divine the “true intention” of either the framers, or those that ratified it is quixotic task, and doomed from the start.

Which gets to the second part of the question, “does it matter today?” My answer is, obviously not. Relying on someone’s personal beliefs from 1787 as the basis for governance in a modern society is a recipe for disaster. We look back on the founding fathers as mythic heroes, infallible in thought, and always noble in purpose. Now these were, indeed, great men with inspired ideas. And I recognize the benefit the world has since seen from the ideals they brought forth.

But the same genius of Jefferson that saw so much in the power of freedom and liberty, was oblivious to the inequality of slavery- mankind’s greatest affront to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What does it say if the mightiest mind of that time (a biased opinion for sure, but one I’ll support) could be so ignorant as to allow this atrocity to remain legal? They also (many of them at least) supported the subjugation of women, many restrictions that kept the unwashed masses in their place, and other practices that we would find objectionable by any modern standard.

No, I am not bashing on these guys. Again, I do appreciate the gift their democracy adds to my everyday world 200+ years later. But to revere them as some demi-gods who had it all figured out seems so woefully naive as to be begging for a trip to the loony bin. They were flawed human beings, just like you and me. They did their best, and put down a remarkable foundation. But it wasn’t perfect, and it never will be.

Regarding the Second, for the strict literalists, I would offer these points. First, to re-ignite a well worn argument, the fact that they add in “A well regulated Militia” in the first part of the sentence shouldn’t be dismissed. If they wanted unlimited, no holds barred, everyone gets guns the second would read: “the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. But it doesn’t. They added a modifying clause. It must mean something or they wouldn’t have bothered to put it in, right? Why add it unless it restricted the other phrase? The other phrase is clear, easily understood, and unrestricted, so the only point to monkeying with it is to tone it down. Therefore, since the literalists believe so much in every word in the constitution, logic holds that they must have wanted some limitation on the second, or they wouldn’t have tossed in that modifying phrase. Second, the entire concept of “arms” represents an evolving technology, and trying to say that anyone in the 1800’s had the foggiest idea of what we have now in this arena is ludicrous. So anybody writing a law about muskets, might have a different intent when faced with a sub-machine gun.

Now we can go round and round on what the term Militia means, what the purpose of that phrase is, and what is the “intent” of the whole thing. But like I said, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how to interpret the law today, given what “arms” mean in this society.

(Posted by Kevin because Alex did this as a comment.)

Next Post in the series.

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