Yesterday was Independence Day observed. I can only speak for myself, but I’ll say these kinds of days are becoming harder and harder to handle. I’ve talked about this before, so I’ll try to specify my feelings now. One of the many things I’ve seen over the past few days is a celebration of our long history of gun freedoms. Allow me to quote the 2nd amendment.
“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.”
Even though I work primarily as an English teacher, I have to readily admit that there are probably more grammar rules I don’t know than ones I do. My writing has always been intuitive, so diagramming sentences is not my strong suit. That being said, it is pretty clear what is going on with the statement above.
Those that cling to the second amendment seem to hinge their bets on the independent clause at the end of the statement. Yet, the independent clause relies on the dependent clause for its truth. In other words, the right of the people to bear arms is dependent on the concept that a well-regulated militia is necessary for the defense of a free state.
It is important to ask ourselves why. We can derive a few clues from the rest of the Bill of Rights. The very next amendment in the constitution concerns the quartering of the troops. Today that amendment is a throw away. Students always asked me why it was necessary in the first place. Clearly, the framers of the constitution were concerned enough to address it not one, but two amendments of the Bill of Rights.
This is where history comes in. The framers came out of a situation where they had to deal with a large standing army every day of their lives. In many cases, they lived in the homes of those planning the revolution. They wanted to prevent that at all costs. So, they didn’t want a standing army.
It also was a fact of convenience. There was no way to mobilize a large standing army to defend individual citizens and police departments wouldn’t be a thing for quite some time. It is clear that they feared a large standing army and circumstances rendered them ineffective under most circumstances. Obviously, things changed.
When you consider nuclear arsenals as military might you would have to conclude that the United States currently has the largest standing army in the history of the planet. We have gone on and on in recent months about the strength of police departments and whether we need to scale that back. Clearly, circumstances are not the same.
So, we are left with the question of what is more important. Is it more important to respect the framers’ witnesses on large standing armies or is it more important to respect their wishes on guns? Unfortunately, they are wrapped up in the same question. Interesting that people that are so keen on respecting the original intent of the framers, but so willing to turn a blind eye to that intent. Faux patriotism is the worst of all.