Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Bill of Rights- The Second Amendment

This is one of the hottest amendments going. People love to debate the second amendment. Let us take a look at the actual amendment and what is and is not covered. I am not a lawyer, so I cannot get involved with the actual legal aspects, but I am an English scholar, so I will debate the linguistic meaning of the amendment.

The amendment is specifically worded: 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.

The first part of the amendment is often left out of debates. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," would seem to say that the right is an organization to protect. "... the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," would be a continuance of that statement. So, in order to create the "well-regulated militia," we cannot infringe on the rights to "keep and bear arms."

How many people screaming for their guns are members of a militia? For those who are members of a militia (I am assuming a government sanctioned one such as the Armed Forces), are you screaming to keep your militia issued arms?

This amendment does not mention types of arms either. This is where interpretation comes into play.

Certain things have been found in certain cases in the US court systems. It is legal, and within the confines of the law. For example, it is legal to ban personal weapons at government facilities. How, then, does this prevent anything if we still have mass shootings. I don't know if it does or doesn't, but I do know that needing certain permits does not give you the right to carry anywhere. Another thing that has been decided is that it is legal to say certain groups aren't permitted firearms, that firearms must carry a permit and other nuances. This law doesn't say that you can have as many weapons in whatever style you like. There can be regulations.

I have a few ideas for what some of those regulations could be, and it would not infringe on any already given rights. That's not for this post though. The debate I am covering here is not one of what should be done, only one of what cannot be done. At any point, the government can declare that there is already a well-organized militia and that personal firearms are not permitted, and second amendment rights may not be infringed upon. That is an interpretation challenge.

For this purpose, though, the amendment does not actually cover personal use. It covers a well-regulated militia. We don't need one of those. We have one of the strongest militaries in the world. Does this mean the second amendment is outdated? Can it be argued that this actually covers individuals, not member of the militia? These are questions debated by the legal system. I am not going to debate them for you. Linguistically speaking, this amendment does not cover the average citizen's right to bear arms because he feels like it.

When this was written, however, hunting rifles likely weren't even considered, as they were essential to life. You may have lived in an area where you could get meat at a market, but it was more likely that someone was hunting for the bulk of the meat. Some people lived on farms with cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals typically killed for meat, but it wasn't unusual to be hunting for deer, elk, bison, or other meat. It may have, very well, been assumed that hunting rifles would be a right. These rifles were essential to the maintenance of life. Are they still? Maybe. It certainly could be argued.

This post isn't to debate, however, the intention, nor the interpretation. This post is to make you think about the wording and that it doesn't necessarily cover what you think. The second amendment does not mention the right for individuals to bear arms. The supreme court has interpreted it that way. The thing with interpreting reading is that each reader has a different interpretation. Interpretations are formed based upon many factors that are not related to the document. People's histories, biases, and life experiences shape their reading and interpretation. Ask any Biblical scholar. They certainly know that things are interpreted differently. 

I could get involved with explaining communities of readers and literary theory, but that isn't what this is about. It is simply about the fact that people don't understand what is really written in each amendment. We do have the right to bear arms in order to form a well regulated militia. We don't necessarily have the right to own an arsenal. That comes from interpretation by the supreme court. 

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