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By Neal Ross
I often take copies of my articles to work and leave them laying around for people to read. So it was with my article entitled "A Few More Thoughts On Gun Control". Today, as I was getting ready to leave, someone mentioned that I had 'just missed it.' Just missed what, I asked. This person told me that someone had been reading my article and made a few comments. Supposedly, this person said something along the lines of, "I hate it when people quote the founding fathers when talking about issues.' This person also seemed to be of the opinion that the amendments, I am guessing he was referring to the Bill of Rights, were not needed anymore, particularly the second amendment. His reasoning, from what I could gather, was that the second amendment was passed because at that time we were fighting the British and every one needed to have a gun. Those days are gone and everyone does not need a gun anymore. His words, not mine.
As I said, I missed it, so this is all just hear say and cannot be confirmed by me. However, if it is true, if this person said these things, I cannot understand how they could come to such asinine conclusions.
It appears that this person feels that the thoughts of the founding fathers are irrelevant in today's society. From my conversations with others, I believe that this person is not alone in that belief. Unfortunately he is sadly mistaken. Who better to understand the intent of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, than those people who wrote it, or championed it during the ratification process? Do we honestly think we are better qualified to discern the reasoning behind the clauses and amendments than those who wrote them? What arrogance, especially when we, due to our lack of understanding of those documents, have allowed our government to grow far beyond what it was ever intended to.
It may be a waste of time to use this quote, seeing as how this person does not like it when people use quotes by the founders, but it is, nonetheless, essential that people understand what George Washington said about our Constitution, "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."
What part of sacredly obligatory is hard to understand? If the Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all, and by all I mean the people, and those elected to represent us, then they must govern within the limitations it places upon them.
Since I was not there to question this person as to what he meant, I am guessing that he meant that parts of our Constitution are no longer relevant? Who is to say which parts no longer hold relevance? The government? Isn't that a precarious assumption, that the very government which was created by said Constitution, is able to decide which of the limitations it places upon them are no longer relevant. That is a recipe for tyranny if there ever was one.
Why don't we just consider what would happen if the tables were turned, if we the people just decided to see what would happen if we chose a law, that our government had enacted, which we decided was no longer relevant to us? How about the income tax, what would happen if we just decided to stop paying income taxes?
Our government is very good at enforcing the laws they impose upon us. Why should we not be any different by enforcing the Constitution upon them? However, since the topic of my article that started this whole discussion was gun control, let's take just one second to consider the second amendment.
If the Constitution not only grants government its powers to govern, but also places limitations upon them by specifically enumerating the powers that document grants them, what is the purpose of the Bill of Rights, of which the second amendment is a part?
Not many know that the Bill of Rights also has a preamble, which states, "The conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution."
Let us take a moment to examine that. The states expressed a desire to prevent abuse of the powers contained within the Constitution by creating "...further declaratory and restrictive clauses..." In other words, the Bill of Rights are declarations of further restrictions that are above the Constitution itself. Those ten amendments protect the rights, of the kind described in the Declaration of Independence as 'unalienable rights', that is to say that no one, not even our government, have the right to infringe upon them.
Our second amendment rights have nothing to do with the fact that the people of this country needed guns to fight the British. If this person recalled their history, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, were ratified AFTER we had won our war for independence.
So, to fully understand the reasons why these ten amendments were considered important enough to be added as further declaratory and restrictive clauses we can only rely upon the writings of the very people who added them, our founders. Therefore anyone who says that they hate it when someone quotes them, has no desire to understand their intent, and is due to their ignorance, a consenting partner to our governments abuse of its clearly defined powers.
June 4, 2008
The Author - Neal Ross can be reached for comments at email@example.com. Visit Nealís Blog at http://www.neals-soapbox.blogspot.com
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