Monday, April 16, 2007

Editorial Calls for Repeal of Second Amendment

File this under I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. A recent editorial by Tommy Denton over at The Roanoke Times represents a new form of attack on the Second Amendment. For the past 70 years or so, the focus has been on passing as many “common sense” gun bans as possible. Recent court decisions have, however, re-affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is, and was always meant to be, an individual right. Because the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, gun bans suddenly find themselves on very thin ice as the legal obfuscation used to imply anything to the opposite has been dispelled.

The article starts with the normal “plea to emotion”:

“No matter how much mayhem and tragedy may be caused by gun violence in the United States, such costs are more than an acceptable trade-off for many people who are determined to preserve ‘the right to keep and bear arms.’"

The truth is, far fewer people are killed by firearms than are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. I don’t see these same individuals decrying the “mayhem and tragedy” caused by vehicular traffic, even WITH the government certifying and licensing both cars and drivers. I don’t see them proposing an “assault car ban” or proposing a prohibitive tax on automobiles that would raise the price of an entry-level sub-compact from $10,000 to $80,000.

The author does get one thing right:

“Alas, those who believe that their gun-embracing compatriots pose a clear and present public danger by misinterpreting the true meaning of the Second Amendment will be disappointed to learn that some of the ablest legal minds in the land disagree with them.

“Even generally liberal law professors such as Harvard's Laurence Tribe and Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas offer no ideological or historical comfort to those who read into the Second Amendment the restriction that guns may be justified only under state-sponsored militia and not under a general liberty bestowed as an individual right.”

The author does, unlike the Brady Campaign, recognize that the Second Amendment does, and was intended to secure and affirm an individual right. However, the remedy the author suggests is what is draconian and dangerous:

“The Founders wrote what they wrote, but they wrote for a century and a nation for which the Second Amendment no longer is appropriate. Yet we should adhere faithfully to the letter and spirit of the Constitution: Quixotic as it may be right now, I propose that we begin thinking about invoking the Constitution's Article V and repeal the Second Amendment.”

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the call to REPEAL the Second Amendment has began. The Bill of Rights, which Madison, Hamilton and the other founders indicated was unnecessary because the government was given no power to regulate what they viewed as “inalienable rights” is now under attack by those who seem to believe if one repeals the Amendment, one destroys the Right. What next, Mr. Denton, do we repeal the First Amendment and set up a State Religion? Do we repeal the Fourth Amendment and seize all private property? Do we repeal the Fifth Amendment and create kangaroo courts with summary convictions and executions for anyone the government finds distasteful? It seems like he’s already started down a very slippery slope (we may even be skiing down it!), a slope that leads only to the destruction of the system of “free, fair elections and politically accountable representation” that we all value so highly.

Make sure you write the editor on this one.

Until next time!

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