To the average American, it seems there is a right, under the Bill of Rights, for Americans to own guns. I have read the 2nd amendment many times, and I was always stuck on the word "militia" in it.
[quote]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. [/quote]
Contrary to popular belief, the reading suggests that right is linked to the necessity for having a well regulated militia. The question I always had, without doing any research on court interpretations of the second amendment, was how the need for a militia applies to today's America?
That question was being debated, in the past four to six weeks before yesterday, on one of the progressive radio networks. It could have been by someone called Tom Harkin, and I may be wrong. He raised the question due to the Irak war. According to his interpretation, the writers of the Bill of Rights did not want to have a standing army who will fight offensive war, like Irak. But, a militia was needed to protect the country when under attack. Under those conditions, it was necessary for people to have a right to bear arms for a quick defense of the homeland. I am not sure of that interpretation, but it may address some of the questions I always had on the Bill of Rights. Now, consider the third amendment. Does it have anything to do with not having a standing army? The United States, since the Independence, it seems, has always had a standing army.
[quote]No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. [/quote]
Perhaps, the third amendment does not provide any support to his interpretation of not having a standing army. But, without the proper historical background, I always found this amendment a little obscure.
Now, let's fast forward to yesterday massacre at Virginia Tech. It is raising questions of the relevance of the second amendment to modern America. According to the NRA, the right to bear arms is protected under the Bills of Rights. I was listening to Randie Rhodes on a progressive radio network, yesterday. According to her, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have always rejected the notion that there was a constitutional right to bear arms. Cases involving that right, from what she said, never made it to the Supreme Court. The Appeals Courts had always rejected the notion of that right. Instead, she argues, that bearing arms is a privilege and gave an example of a town in Illinois who had an ordinace prohibiting the sale and ownership of arms within its city limits, and the Appeals Courts has upheld the city's right to that prohibition. She also argues that is one of the reasons why you need a permit to bear and sell guns, unlike the right to free speech, for example, which does not require a permit to express one's opinion. If all this is true, how come the NRA propaganda machine managed to give the impression to the average Joe that there is a protected right to own a gun?
I wonder what some of you think of this?
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With the fact that the USA was founded through violence and genocide upon the Native Americans, it became apparent that bearing arms is essential for the so-called patriots. But with the event that occurred at Virginia Tech, we can see that the second amendment has become a problem due to the freedom of bearing arms. I doubt that those who want tougher laws on arm controls will get their message through because of the powerful influence that the NRA has on Washington politicians.