Thursday, February 14, 2013

Checks & Balances and the 2nd Amendment

I was recently asked an interesting question.  I had heard the question before in the media, so it was no surprise that someone was quoting it back to me.  The question was: “Do you think our Founding Fathers envisioned AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines when they drafted the 2nd Amendment?”

It is an interesting question because the logical answer is: Of course our Founding Fathers did not envision AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines when they drafted the 2nd Amendment.  Of course, it is logical to assume that the Founding Fathers also did not envision horseless carriages (automobiles), microwave ovens, space travel, nuclear energy, computers, or any of the other modern conveniences that we take for granted today.

But the real implication of the question is that the 2nd Amendment is frozen in time and that the People only have the right to “keep and bear” the arms that were in existence on the day the 2nd Amendment was drafted, namely muskets.  So, the real answer to the question and the implication is: Does it really matter whether the Founding Fathers envisioned AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines when they drafted the 2nd Amendment?

Once again, you have to look at the purpose for which the 2nd Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.  The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to permit the People to overthrow the government should the government ever deny the rights to the People that are contained in the remainder of the U.S. Constitution.  In other words, the 2nd Amendment provides the People a check and balance on the power of government.  The People may never need to use the power retained by them in the 2nd Amendment but the mere existence of the 2nd Amendment is what prevents the government from denying the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to the People.

With that in mind, it would appear that the Founding Fathers were very shrewd in their drafting of the Bill of Rights.  Not only did they not envisioned AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines when they drafted the 2nd Amendment, but they also understood that they could not envision the future.  For that reason, they did not state that the right to keep and bear arms was limited to muskets or whatever other weapon was available to the government on the date of the drafting of the 2nd Amendment.  In order for the 2nd Amendment to work properly, the 2nd Amendment had to be drafted in a more flexible manner to retain its usefulness into the future.

When you combine this flexibility with the intent of the 2nd Amendment, the only logical conclusion you can draw is that the Founding Fathers intended the People to have access to the same technology that is available to the government.  In today’s society, that means that if the government has the technology to build and arm government representatives with AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines, the only way to ensure that the check and balance of the 2nd Amendment remains intact is to permit the People to own the same technology, namely AR-15 style rifles and 30 round magazines.

The unfortunate reality is that some of our government representatives want to take away a power that was expressly retained by the People, thus removing one of the most important checks and balances of our U.S. Constitution.  By removing the right of the People to possess the same technology that is available to the government, the government becomes more powerful than the People.  We cannot let that happen.  We must maintain the line.

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