We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Americans have an interesting relationship with their founding documents. We are hesitant to criticize our Constitution, despite the clear intentions of our founders that the Constitution be a living breathing document. They made this clear the day the Bill of Rights was ratified. They showed us that not only was the document meant to be updated, but they showed us how to update it and we’ve successfully done it 27 times.
We as Americans have also accepted, and even invited, limitations placed on our rights as enumerated in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We accept that our freedom of speech should not and cannot slander or incite violence. We, without a second thought, fill out our applications and pay our municipal fees for a permit to assemble in a public place. We accept the limitations placed on the expression of religion by prohibiting polygamy and sacrifice. We have spent years allowing religious groups to lobby and influence public policy while not paying taxes. We’ve limited freedom of the press by placing restrictions on how much protection a journalist can offer a confidential source, jailing them when they fail to comply. We have, for years, accepted the idea that citizens in our prison system should be prohibited from petitioning to redress grievances.
These are only some of the limitations and restrictions we’ve allowed and even at times invited on just our First Amendment rights. We also accept warrantless searches in airports, we allow our government to demand personal records by subpoena rather than warrant. We allow law enforcement officers to offer testimony to a grand jury, even when there are Miranda violations preventing them from testifying in a criminal case. We allow states to determine when the accused is guaranteed counsel or a jury trial, at times only applying it in capital cases. We allow forced arbitration clauses, health courts, and caps on damages, either removing the right to a jury trial or greatly diminishing the jury’s power and authority.
Many of these restrictions and limitations were placed on our rights for the purposes of ensuring public safety, public health, or national security. While others are driven by bigotry, class warfare, and concession to the interests of corporate lobbyists. Regardless of the reasons for these limitations, the fact remains that we have accepted them without much pushback and gone on with our lives calling ourselves a beacon for liberty, freedom, and justice. We have even accepted that the documents that serve as the foundation of our government are as flawed as the men who wrote them.
The twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, nineteenth, and twenty-second amendments only illustrate how flawed the initial document was. We’ve had to create amendments just to fix the mistakes that, in practice, no longer worked for our citizens. So we recognize that the accepted practices of the 1770’s may not be viable today. We now recognize, in most cases, our laws need to be updated to reflect our evolving culture, technology, and social mores.
Why then doesn’t the Second Amendment evolve with our understanding of science, culture, and each other? Why are we unable to see the differences between society then and society now? What tells us that our culture and technology haven’t sufficiently evolved to the point that each homeowner doesn’t need an armory full of center-fire, semi-automatic rifles with a magazine capacity over six?
Very few people are still hunting to eat, and those that do would never shoot something they plan to butcher with such a weapon. It would be decimated. Study after study has shown us that weapons kept for home protection are more likely to injure you or a family member than a home intruder, so that argument has little legitimacy. My favorite argument is the one where I’m told citizens need weapons of war to protect themselves from a corrupt, tyrannical government. If the government comes after us, it’s not going to be with guns, they’re too savvy for that and we know they are. They’ll take away our health care, feed income inequality by favoring business instead of the individual, which will in turn make more and more of us incapable of caring for ourselves and our families. They’ll roll back environmental protections, polluting our water, air, and land, making our own planet poison us. Lastly they’ll divide us and turn us against each other, planting seeds of hate among us, giving us each other to blame, then we’ll use our personal armories on each other, saving them all of that trouble. Kind of like is happening now.
We’re being manipulated into believing we need weapons of war, and we know we don’t need them for hunting or protection. Their only purpose is to kill as many people in as short a time as possible and our plan is to use them on each other. I don’t believe for a moment that this is what our founders had in mind. We and the Second Amendment need to grow up.