Skip to comments.The Fundamental Right of Self Defense: The 27th Amendment - (settle it for all time!)
Posted on 05/02/2005 8:58:28 PM PDT by CHARLITE
I have been doing a little transcendental meditation on the subject of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, the one that says 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."
Yet many people among us claim the right to infringe this right of the people.
And while meditating my way through the pages of the May issue of Americas First Freedom, the Second Amendment magazine from the NRA, and the excellent ChronWatch article by Matthew Holmes (29 April 2005) entitled When 23,000 Gun Laws Are Not Enough [http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=14314&catcode=13, a little enlightenment overtook me, as I like to think it does now and then, and I deduced that it is time to resolve the burning question of what the right of the people to keep and bear arms really means once and for all, and at a national, constitutional level.
First, most of the 23,000 gun laws, give or take a few, that the various State legislatures have passed in the name of gun control, and the pending Illinois HB2414 that proposes to ban the ownership and possession of all semi-automatic weapons by private citizens in Illinois seem - to me - to be ultres vires acts of the States, reaching beyond their power and authority, for only the United States Courts, and not the individual state legislatures and judges, have jurisdiction to construe the meaning and intent of the Constitution, and only the United States Congress has the power to amend it (although, of course, any amendment must be afterward ratified by the states). I.e., the interpretation of the Constitution in general, and the Second Amendment in particular, is a Federal issue.
The states, as I see it, do not have the Constitutional authority or jurisdiction to determine the meaning of the Constitution, or to amend it, yet every state law that attempts to infringe the Constitutional right of the people to keep and bear arms is an attempt to define, interpret, construe, limit, and amend the Second Amendment.
The essential issue here - whether the Second Amendment means what it plainly says, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, or whether the right of the people is subject to infringement by the States in the name of gun control, needs to be settled, finally, and clearly, and I think the best way to settle it is to adopt the 27th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which should be known as The Self Defense Amendment.
When the Constitution was adopted, America was largely a frontier and had only recently rejected the heavy hand of England, by force of arms, and the idea that the right to keep and bear arms both as a means to ensure political freedom from tyranny, and as a necessity for self defense, was so fundamental to the thinking of the time that the Second Amendment is one of shortest. In the context of the 18th, and 19th, centuries, it needed no elaboration. Then, the idea that the right of the people to keep and bear arms should be restricted, or eliminated, or infringed, was unthinkable.
Today, even if political tyranny is not an immediate danger in America (although always a potential one), the threat of crime is. There have been more Americans murdered in California in the last two years (more than 4,400) than killed in combat in Iraq (less than 1,600).
The possession of a gun is the great equalizer between the small, decent, and weak, on one hand, and the big, ruthless, and strong on the other. Thus the right to keep and bear a firearm is essential to the fundamental right of self-defense, for without a gun the small, the old, the infirm, and the weak, are defenseless.
Without the right to own and possess a gun, the right to self-defense is eviscerated, and means no more than the right to drive nails without a hammer. Take away the tool, and you take away the right.
American law defines the doctrine of self-defense thus: You are privileged to use all necessary force, including deadly force, to defend yourself, or another, from an imminent threat of death or bodily harm.
If the right of self-defense were to be lost, whether legally or in fact, de jure or de facto, it would give the thugs and criminals the right, or at least the freedom, to inflict bodily harm and murder on the rest of us with impunity, since we would have no right, or no ability, to defend ourselves. Sure, they might be prosecuted later, but convicting the perp after the fact isnt going to bring me back to life.
And if we have no effective right to defend ourselves, i.e., if we have been disarmed, we might as well have no legal right to defend ourselves or others.
If the tools we can use to defend ourselves are outlawed, then the right of self-defense is emasculated, eviscerated, vacated - it becomes meaningless to have the right if we dont have the tools to enforce the right. And for those of us who are not the biggest and meanest Mongos on the block, the most effective tool we can have is a gun.
Granny with a gun is a crime deterrant. Granny without a gun is dead meat. The Liberal Left Gun Control Lobby, intellectually incoherent and vacuous as it is, wants to disarm Granny and the rest of us, by vacating, de facto, the Second Amendment, and removing guns from the hands of lawful people, so only the criminals who flout the law will be armed. As the bumper sticker says, when guns are outlawed only criminals will have guns. Simple, but the logic is impeccable.
The gun-control Democrats, intellectually incoherent and vacuous as they are and in thrall to the Liberal Left Gun Control Lobby, while ostentatiously the party of, by, and for the little people, nevertheless want to disarm the little people and leave them, us, defenseless against crime and tyranny.
The right to effective self-defense is essential to Civilization itself, for if the small, the old, the weak, the decent and civil people are unable to defend themselves, the thugs and tyrants rule, the barbarian hordes take over.
While I am generally opposed to new Constitutional amendments as the answers to every political debate, I think this one is so fundamental to freedom and ultimately to civilization that only the 27th Amendment, The Self Defense Amendment, can settle the issue as it should be settled, and end the quibbling over the meaning of the Second Amendment as it should be ended. And so I offer the following:
Amendment XXVII: Self-Defense (Proposed)
1. The Right of the People to keep and bear arms as specified in Amendment II of this Constitution is essential to the fundamental right of self-defense, and the defense of others, and is personal to each Citizen and lawful resident of the United States.
2. Neither Congress, nor any State, shall make or enforce any law which impairs the fundamental right and ability of any person to defend themself, or another, from a threat of death or bodily harm.
3. Neither Congress, nor any State, shall make or enforce any law which infringes the right of the People to own or possess firearms for any lawful purpose.
4. This Amendment shall not impair the power of Congress, or of any State, to:
(a) Restrict the right of any person having been convicted of a violent crime to own or possess a deadly weapon.
(b) Restrict the right of persons unlawfully present in the United States to own or possess a deadly weapon.
(c) Restrict the right of minors to own or possess a deadly weapon.
(d) Restrict the right to own, possess, or use, a deadly weapon with the intent to commit a crime therewith; or to punish any crime, any attempt to commit a crime, or any conspiracy to commit a crime.
An Amendment such as this would clarify three important things:
First, that the right to possess arms is personal to each citizen, each individual, and not merely the collective right of government sponsored military and police forces - the debate that lies at the heart of the gun control issue.
Second, that the fundamental, common law right of self-defense necessarily implies the right to effective self-defense, and that neither Congress nor any State may abridge or impair that right.
Third, that as a matter of compelling public interest, the rights of convicted criminals, illegal aliens, and minors, may be restricted; and the use of any deadly weapon in the commission of a crime may be appropriately punished.
The onus for the criminal misuse of guns must be placed squarely on the criminals who misuse guns to commit crimes, and not on the lawful citizens who use guns appropriately for sport and competition shooting, hunting, and self-defense.
About the Writer: Raymond Kraft is a lawyer and writer living and working in Northern California. Raymond receives e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"(c) Restrict the right of minors to own or possess a deadly weapon."
"(a) Restrict the right of any person having been convicted of a violent crime to own or possess a deadly weapon."
And violent crime needs to be defined. Too many ways for the states and grabbers to twist this.
Not to bog things down in technicalities, but there's already a 27'th Amendment, ratified in 1992. This would have to be the 28'th.
One thing needs to be added to this.
(5) This amendment reinforces the rights of the Citizens to protect themselves against their Government by force of arms should it become necessary.
If somebody's too dangerous to own guns he should be in jail. If he's not in jail, he should be able to own guns, bu tnot commit crimes with them. I'd drop that one altogether.
There are four basic reasons for something like the second ammendment.
Every one of the founding fathers is on record to the effect that private ownership of firearms, the 2'nd ammendment, is there as a final bulwark against the possibility of government going out of control. That is the most major reason for it.
At the time of the revolution and for years afterwards, there were private armies, private ownership of cannons and warships. . . The term "letters of marque, and reprisal" which you read in the constitution indicates the notion of the government issuing a sort of a hunting license to the owner of a private warship to take English or other foreign national ships on the high seas, i.e. to either capture or sink them. The idea of you or me owning a Vepr or FAL rifle with a 30-round magazine is not likely to have bothered any of those people.
The most major motivation for the present generation of gun-control laws, i.e. the problem with drug-dealers owning AKs, is a drug problem and not a gun problem. Fix the drug-problem, i.e. get rid of the insane war on drugs and pass a rational set of drug laws, and both problems will simply go away. A rational set of drug laws would:
Do all of that, and the drug problem, the gun problem, and 70% of all urban crime will vanish within two years.
But I digress. The 2'nd ammendment is there as a final bulwark against our own government going out of control. It is also there as a bulwark against any foreign invasion which our own military might not be able to stop.
Just prior to WW-II breaking out in the Pacific, a meeting took place in Tokyo in which a number of Japanese general officers asked Isoroku Yamamoto, the only one of their number to hve spent any time in the United States, what the problem was; why not simply invade the place and get it over with. Admiral Yamamoto replied that the problem was not the US military, that there were fifty million lunatics in this country who owned military style weaponry and practiced with it, and that there would be "a rifle behind every blade of grass". This apparently bothered him a great deal more than the 300,000 or so guys in uniform prior to the war.
A third obvious reason for private ownership of firearms is to protect yourself and your family from criminals and wild animals. Criminals in fact are not the sum total of problems in the world which firearms can help in dealing with. In particular, we read about tens of thousands of people being killed every year by poisonous snakes in India; it's hard to picture that happening if the people were armed.
Finally there's a fourth reason for the 2'nd ammendment, which is to provide the people with food during bad economic times. When you listen to people from New York and from Texas talk about the depression of the 30's, you hear two totally different stories. The people in New York will tell you about people starving and eating garbage, and running around naked. The Texans will tell you that while money was scarce, they always had 22 and 30 caliber ammunition, and that they always had something to eat, even if it was just some jackrabbit.
Eating is habit-forming; in any general societal breakdown which might be caused by a war, a major terrorist success, or whatever other cause, this last rationale for the 2'nd ammendment could very quickly become the most important.
Wouldnt the anti-gunners still be able to put a magazine capacity limit if they wanted to weasel their way around this by saying you only needed 1 bullet to defend yourself for example?
"If somebody's too dangerous to own guns he should be in jail. If he's not in jail, he should be able to own guns, bu tnot commit crimes with them. I'd drop that one altogether."
Not wanting to get into a debate tonight, I took the middle ground. I tend to agree. A lot of people do crazy things in their youth, that they would never do later in life. There is such a thing as a repentant sinner.
And all of us here wish you'd had one, too. You could have posted a major article on your "shoot first, talk later" policy, with suitable photos of your expertise.
Allow me to bring up a problem with the legalizing drug thing that a lot of folks miss. If you take the profit out of it the crooks will just turn to other crime to support themselves. Do you actually think that the meth freaks, crackheads, junkies and the big time dealers will actually get a legal job when that source of cash is shut off? Most, if not all, are addicts with a record. Who will hire them and at what wages? Do you think that some gang member with a felony record, a hatred of squares, a third grade education and a habit who is used to easy money is going to start flipping burgers or collecting shopping carts? Aside from the fact that most employers require drug and background tests, these guys ain't gonna work. They will turn to armed robbery, home invasion and kidnapping. Oh, BTW, with harsher sentencing, they don't leave witnesses.
I don't really see what those types are going to do which is worse than what they're doing now...
A lot (if not most) of the people you are describing commit crimes in order to get cash for drugs. If drugs are legal and available, the price of drugs will drop like a led balloon. No need to commit crimes when drugs are cheap and easy to get. The war on drugs has made matters worse by driving the price of drugs through the roof. More crime is needed to pay for them.
Kidnapping for ransom is huge in, say, columbia where drugs are cheap. They hijack a bus, rape and take the rich ones for ransom. The rest are killed.
Let's say that you are willing to support the average addict through welfare. What about the cartel members, gang members and ex cons who want the cash that they now get by selling drugs? They aren't going to work at mickey ds or wally world for $8.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
I totally disagree with this sentiment. Who are you to say this or that caliber is illegal? If one wants a .50BMG, he/she is and should be allowed to have a .50BMG for self defense. Even according to your own response, the weapon in question might be necessary for defense against a runaway gov't. Now, Welcome to Free Republic! I see that you recently joined, and would like to welcome you- we need more members like yourself. I also sense from some of your statements that you have been around awhile, as I have. Again, welcome aboard.
Its really simple. "The right of the people to keep and bear arm shall not be infringed."
While the people on this forum are good people I would not want them overhauling the second amendment. They have been so conditioned by the media and the left in this country that they now try to justify what is plainly theirs to begin with.
The answer to the thing you note is called the second ammendment. The first time four or five such types get on a bus and pull out their weapons, and then everybody else on the bus pulls out THEIR pistols and blow the gang away, 99% of such activity will cease, here, in Columbia, or anywhere else.
I really wish that were true. I live in PA and it has been right to carry for quite a while and a very large percentage of homes have firearms. It also has common sense laws regarding personal protection in the home and in public.
I recently posted a story on FR re: home invasions in Pittsburgh which is not a large city by any means. There were 322 in the city in one year. This does not include outside of the city and those unreported.
I know that while right to carry reduces crime it does not eliminate it. I believe that legalization or decriminalization will only increase other violent crime.
Gun grabbers are increasingly trying to separate the right to keep and bear arms from its constitutional underpinnings. To everyone but liberals and gun grabbers the word militia implies a body organized for military use. The Supreme Court Miller decision of 1939 held that the militia was 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."
To begin with, only the national government was represented at the trial. With nobody arguing to the contrary, the court followed standard court procedure and assumed that the law was constitutional until proven otherwise. If both sides were present, the outcome may have been much different.
However, since only one party showed up, the case will stand in the court records as is. As to the militia, Mr. Justice McReynolds related the beliefs of the Founding Fathers when commenting historically about the Second Amendment. He stated that, ". . .The common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the militia- civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.
"The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.
It is clear that the firearms that are most suited for modern-day militia use are those semi automatic military pattern weapons that the yellow press calls "assault weapons". Since nations such as the Swiss trust their citizenry with true selective fire assault rifles, it seems to me that this country ought to be at least able to trust its law-abiding citizenry with the semi automatic version.
Self-defense is a vital corollary benefit of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. But its primary constitutional reason for being is for service in the well-regulated militia which is necessary to the security of a free state. WE must be prepared to maintain that security against even our own forces that are responding to the orders of a tyrannical government, and the only viable way to counter a standing army's qualitative advantage is with a huge quantitative one. Don't let the gun grabbers and their politician allies separate us from the constitutional reason for the right to keep and bear arms. Miltary pattern weapons are precisly the weapons that should be MOST constitutionally protected. Even defenders of the right often neglect the constitutional aspect of it, and concentrate on their near non-existent use in crime.
If we don't constantly emphasize the constitutional reasons for the Second Amendment than we shall surely lose it, because hunting, while a worthy enterprise, is too trivial a reason to maintain it has a constitutional protection. We need to emphasize to our hunting bretheren that maintenance of the second amendment's constitutional rationale serves to protect their rights to continue to own firearms for hunting. The second amendment is literally the final check for the preservation of our republic from the depredations of untrammeled tyranny. We need to constantly remind the people what the militia in the 2nd amendment is REALLY for..... A citizen body organized for military purposes and by extension, logically equipped with weapons of military utility. Just consider that the founders of our nation had just finished defeating the greatest military power on the planet, thanks in no small part to a citizen militia, armed with military weapons such as the smooth bore Brown Bess musket, and often technologically superior rifled muskets. It is the height of absurdity to think that the second amendment in the Bill of Rights is primarily concerned with shooting bunny rabbits.
The second amendment is literally the final check for the preservation of our republic from the depredations of untrammeled tyranny.
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