Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A New United States Constitution, Part II

The United States needs a new constitution. We have the oldest constitution on earth (and it's not even close), and while some might see that as something to celebrate, I see it as a big part of the reason why our nation and our government is increasingly useless and ineffective.

In Part I of this series we looked at changes to the First Amendment that I would like to see occur. In Part II, we're gonna dive headlong into the Second Amendment. This actually won't take long because my idea for how to fix the second amendment is pretty simple.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT

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.

Let's ignore the fact that the Second Amendment is so strangely worded (I mean, it was written by 18th century British people, after all). To fully understand what they meant, it's helpful to add some implied modifiers, remove some commas, and reword things a bit: "Since an efficient militia is necessary to the security of a state, the citizens have the right to own and carry guns." 

Second Amendment Background

I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you that the Second Amendment never meant what it's typically interpreted to mean. I'll simply say there are very good and convincing arguments that it was never about individual rights, but always and only about the need for state militias. This was an era when there was no permanent, professional U.S. military. States were expected to protect themselves from Indians or anyone else. Since states and towns frequently couldn't afford to arm their militias, men joining a militia were expected to provide their own guns. This remained true for many decades after the founding the of the country. It was only in the first part of the 19th century that permanent, federally-funded, professional standing armies began to be formed. In the 1780s, the same people who insisted on the Second Amendment thought that such standing armies were the tools of tyrants. 

So it really never had anything to do with your personal, individual right to have a gun. But none of that really matters for my purposes here, because I frankly don't care what the Supreme Court has said or what you think the amendment means. 

Nor does it matter what I think it means, because in our imaginary constitutional convention, we're  gonna abolish the Second Amendment altogether. If there's no Second Amendment, then there can be no disagreement about what it means!  

Taking Away Your Guns

Gun rights activists often accuse liberals of wanting to "take away your guns." As an independent liberal, I plead guilty as charged. I totally want to take away your guns. If I was King Byron of the Kingdom of America, I would absolutely ban all guns forever for all time for any reason. And I'd put your ass in jail if you were caught with one.  

But I recognize that not everyone agrees that guns should be outlawed across the board. So that's actually NOT the reason I want to get rid of the Second Amendment. After all, this is a democracy and I'm just one person.  

I want to get rid of the Second Amendment because it's fucking asinine for a nation to have the right to own guns enshrined in its very constitution. It's no wonder this country is so obsessed with firearms that we have almost half of all the firearms on earth and literally have more than one gun per person. When it's included in our basic Bill of Rights, its not hard to figure out why we've developed a gun-obsessed culture. Only two other countries on earth have gun ownership in their constitution - Mexico and Guatemala. Now there's two countries you want to be aligned with.  

Abolishing the Second Amendment would get rid of any constitutional arguments for gun regulation. Local, state, and federal governments could regulate guns within reason, and there'd be no appealing to the constitutionality of the laws. Just like you can't make a constitutional argument about whether it's okay to pass speed limit laws, you wouldn't be able to make a constitutional argument about a town, city, or state that wanted to limit guns in whatever way its elected officials saw fit. It would also allow the federal government to develop standards and regulations - like blanket assault weapons bans or high capacity magazine bans or whatever.  

Don't like your town or state's gun laws? Elect new leaders! But you don't get to cry about constitutionality. 

CONCLUSION

I hate guns and I want to take away your guns. But since I don't get to make that call, I think we should abolish the Second Amendment in order to allow the government to sensibly regulate guns without appeals to a constitutional right that someone thinks they should have. 

In our next article, we're going to move away from the Bill of Rights and talk about terms limits on federal offices.