To the editor:
Second Amendment to the Constitution: 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.
Four things come to mind, one being, absolute power corrupts absolutely; second, if you turn up the heat on a pot of water, the frog will not notice or complain until it is too late; third, history repeats itself; and fourth, those who give up liberty for safety deserve neither.
In response to Mr. Baker's statement - "But I think we have finally arrived at a point where we must place some limits on the ownership and availability of certain types of firearms" - I offer this.
Mr. Baker, what part of the Second Amendment do you not understand? Does "shall not be infringed" mean what it says? Is the language plain enough for you? Should we defend these rights? How many rights will you give up, before you resist? Will you agree in the end to a single shot air powered weapon of .17 caliber?
When does gun control stop, Mr. Baker? Does it stop now or after another regulation is passed? Does it stop after another school shooting? Does it stop after the third, fourth, or 10th school shooting? When is enough, enough? If you have it your way the Second Amendment will die a slow death by a thousand knives.
The Second Amendment was created to give the people a means to defend themselves from a tyrannical government (hunting and target shooting are byproducts). The entire Bill of Rights was created out of the fear that a federal government could and more than likely would attempt to impose itself on the people. Our forefathers learned this all too well while they were under the thumb and boot of the British.
Perhaps this will help the discussion:
James Madison proposed as the first clause of the amendment on June 8, 1789 "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Madison also included this freedom of religion related protection in his Bill of Rights proposals to Congress: "Nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed."
Assuming that Madison's intention in preventing religious liberty from being "infringed" was to allow for considerable "reasonable" regulation by the federal government is illogical. In fact, it is clear that the intent of such language was to prevent any interference whatsoever by the government in such matters. The later change to "Congress shall make no laws" language buttresses this period understanding of "infringe" based protection.
Samuel Adams attempted to protect freedom of the press and religion with this proposal: "That the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience," just as in Madison's case with his infringe based restrictive proposals to Congress regarding freedom of religion and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Once again, it does not appear that such period usage indicated the committee members understood that religious beliefs could be subjected to extensive reasonable regulations, or that they used "shall not be infringed" with the intention that it would condone extensive and reasonable regulation of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right of peaceable assembly, the right to apply for redress of grievances, or the right to keep and bear arms.
First Amendment rights - freedom of speech - freedom of the press - the right of peaceable assembly - the right to apply for redress of grievances. All of these, including Madison's "inviolable" freedom of the press and his right of the people to speak, of which they "shall not be deprived or abridged" were re-stated by the committee as rights that "shall not be infringed."
Interpreting this restrictive "infringe" based language in the manner that some advocates of gun control do for Second Amendment usage removes all meaning of the terminology and completely destroys any protective intent of the provision. Such interpretations leave the intended protected rights to be regulated exactly like any other subject placed under the government's power. Such views of the language completely ignore the developmental history of the Bill of Rights, a history that is remarkably well documented because the need for a U.S. Bill of Rights was publicly and privately discussed for more than two full years prior to Congress' proposal of the U.S. Bill of Rights amendments.
Why do we find ourselves having to defend our constitutional rights from an assault by our fellow Americans? Why do they want to take them away or render them meaningless?