Overheard at... a dinner party
"How else do you fight oppression?"
Ever since the Gun Control bill was voted down I have been stewing. It is an uncomfortable feeling for me, neither determined, nor apathetic. It is how I envision Purgatory. Having listened to many conversations on this topic, and after weighing the different arguments given, I finally felt compelled to put pen to paper. Note: I am not a Political Sciences or Constitutional scholar. I am a mother, a wife, a business person and a writer. The topic of Gun Control belongs to all of us, though, in a very personal way.
You should first know that I came into the discussion with a bias towards banning all weapons. I would have included all violent games and music in that as well had it been up for grabs. I have struggled to understand anyone’s arguments against gun control.
Recently, though, I heard a discussion about the Second Amendment which finally helped me understand it in a new light. The language around the second amendment is simple, stating (in the version passed by Congress in 1791):
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
While the primary intent of these words has been debated, a very smart and knowledgeable friend pointed out to me that the fundamental purpose of the Second Amendment was as a means for keeping the government in check. She
felt that the idea of our forefathers was to provide ordinary citizens the ability to organize an armed militia in case the government ever decided to abuse its power.
It created an ‘aha’ moment for me. The entire Second Amendment finally made sense. I considered that an original cause of the revolution was the British Government trying to take their gun powder weapons. I thought of the early Americans, so scared that they would lay their life on the line only to have their rights taken away again by a new government. As I wrote in my blog recently, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So I finally got it and it made me feel so much closer to everyone who has been fighting against gun control (with the exception of the head NRA guy who I still think is just crazy). But after I had given the argument deeper thought I found a few disappointing flaws.
First, I think we all have to admit that governments no longer use guns as their primary weapons. They have bombers, and drones and chemical weapons to do their damage. And while they aren’t quite as advanced as the
government in the Hunger Games, I’m still fairly confident current military weapons would beat anything we ordinary
citizens could weal, even assuming we were well organized and trained.
Since I’m not too comfortable with the idea that the right to bear arms would include my neighbors stockpiling WMDs, I can’t understand where this leaves the Second Amendment.
My second thought was more of a question. Who exactly decides when the government is abusing its power? How do we even define ‘government’? Is it the President? Congress? The three branches of government? Most importantly, what exactly would we do if there was a new law that the majority of Americans wanted but the government blocked via an abuse of their powers. Could the founding fathers have foreseen that even when 90% of American’s would
have voted for gun control a handful of legislators could and would block it to ensure they maintained power their own, personal, power? Does anyone else feel this reeks of abuse?
We live in a wonderful, free, and mostly hopeful country and I would like to keep it that way. But if the purpose of the Second Amendment was to give us the power to fight government oppression, then why do I feel so powerless right now?
5/10/2013 02:15:52 am
Well said, Deanne - a thoughtful analysis of both where we're coming from and where we might be going in civil liberties. If our leaders showed as much thought, we'd all feel better!
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