Ok- first off- full disclosure. I carry a copy of the constitution (actually several- 1 in each of my vehicles, my person, my backpacks and bags…) at all times. I also have a rather impressive collection of the writings of both our founding fathers, and those that influenced them.
But here’s the rub. I’m a realist. I honor and respect the ideals these men put down on paper. And I also realize they could not conceive of the world we live in today.
Let’s be honest. At the time of the declaration of independence and the constitution the population in our country was about 2 1/2 million when the Declaration was signed. 3 1/2 million by the time of the constitution, it is currently 311.5 million and rising. They lived in a world of no electricity. A world were guns were single shot (and took a looong time to reload), where the height of armaments were single shot cannons that required a crew to reload. Or a ship armed with them- a ship made of wood and powered by sails. A world without the internal combustion engine. A world where chopping down a tree, extracting coal, forging metal…was an art that took a great deal of time and energy. A world where foreign countries- and news from such, was weeks or months away- and some countries we had little contact with or knowledge of. A country comprised of 13 states. A world without nuclear weapons. A world without planes. A world without city and even college police armed more heavily then they could imagine.
A world with individual wealth that can rival that of the kings. A country of 50 states, and something like 14 territories and protectorates.
And yes- we do have a process for amending the constitution. But it has remained largely unused for over 40 years- one of the longest stretches in our history as a nation. In fact the only amendment passed since 1971 was passed in 1992- and had originally been proposed in 1789.
For too long we have bowed to a 200+ year old document (the constitution_ and a 2000+/- year old document (the bible). failing to realize that despite the truths and lessons they may contain, that their authors would see things differently today. It is not respectful, indeed- it is disrespectful to these men to insult them by clinging to their interpretations based on their time- rather then realizing that they, like all men, would evolve their thinking to deal with modern realities.
So do we- as a country, have the courage to sit down and honestly discuss this? Sadly- I think not…and it will lead America to being one of the shortest lived major nations in the worlds history.
So let me present this riddle. The 2nd Amendment.
As passed by the Congress:
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.
As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
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.
Notice the difference in commas, which has led to much different interpretations, as well as many of the legal fights.
Now, factor in the Founding fathers intent. They clearly feared a federal standing army, and felt the states militias should, as they saw fit, provide the nation with an army at times of need. And likewise that these state militias would protect against a federal government without their own army.
And now factor in our modern world. A federal army with jet fighters, stealth fighters, heavy caliber machine guns, armor piercing and uranium enriched bullets, armed drones, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons, tanks, soldiers who spend years doing nothing other then being trained…
And militias, or as they are now called national guard, only marginally under control of their states governors.
So- regarding the military, the national guard, and individual gun rights- just where is the literal interpretation? The intent of the founding fathers that exist in their own writings, the current reality?