If like me, you get frustrated when candidates talk about the Constitution yet seem to support positions which deny people their Constitutional rights, maybe you’re appreciate a simple brush-up on our Constitutional rights. I’m a Social Studies teacher and I’m here to help. Whether you consider yourself on the left, right or squarely in the center, I hope you’ll get something out of this review of the Constitutional Amendments.
If you’re interested, I’ve already reviewed the Constitution proper and the First Amendment earlier on this blog. As I offered on both of those previous posts, you don’t have to take my word for it- look it up yourself, here’s a link to the Bill of Rights and Constitutional Amendments. And remember, when you amend the Constitution, you’ve added to it and changed it. All the of the amendments therefore ARE part of the Constitution. These ARE the supreme law of the land, they’re not just things a bunch of civil rights activists campaigned for.
- 2nd Amendment- Right to bare arms- This has to be the most contentious amendment. My problem with most gun rights advocates is that they have the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” part memorized, however they always seem to gloss over the “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” part.
- Really, up until the last 20 years or so ago, the Supreme Court and most Constitutional scholars and lawmakers agreed that this amendment was about the “security of a free State,” NOT about individual rights, protection or self-defense.
- During the American Revolution, we weren’t anti-government, we were opposed to Parliament undermining the representative governments we already had and imposing foreign rule. The “Minute Men,” or militia, since we didn’t have a professional standing military at that time had to be ready to protect us and our legitimate government from British occupying forces, Hessian mercenaries, hostile Indians and perhaps Spanish, French or Russian interlopers.
- When they wrote this, arms were muskets. Not even rifles, let alone rapid fire automatic and semiautomatic weapons like we have today. Just because you have a right to bear arms, does that entitle you to an RPG launcher, or surface to air missiles, grenades, mortars, weaponized white phosphorus, or an F-14 Phantom jet? What about tactical nuclear weapons?
- Are universal background checks, hunter safety courses, licensing and registration truly infringing upon one’s right to own or bear arms? These and tons of other questions are things that we really need to be able to openly and civilly discuss and debate without being absolutist and intrenchant in our positions. We have VIN numbers on cars, require people to have at least collision and liability insurance, take driver’s ed classes, get both license plates for our vehicles and drivers’ licenses for ourselves and we hold each other accountable for traffic violations and suspend licenses for DUI and DWI- so why is it unreasonable to ask for similar guidelines and regulations on weapons. Would these restrictions be infringing on ownership?
- Obviously this one isn’t going to be resolved soon, not only could I have a blog post just about this one amendment, but they probably offer entire college courses on it.