Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let's Treat the Second Amendment like the First Amendment:

This morning I weighed 222.2 pounds. Apparently I really am dieting. I'm hungry, I still eat too much sometimes, but things are getting better. (I started dieting two weeks ago, at 225.)

Now I would like to turn to a serious topic. Here are the first two amendments to our constitution:
Amendment 1
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2
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.

Note that the first amendment says “no law” regarding freedom of speech. But we have laws that regulate speech. In fact, we have hundreds. We may have started with the observation that it should be illegal to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater.

Laws regarding what this amendment says shall be “no law” have multiplied. Today we have an extreme case: the Patriot Act makes it legal to charge a person with a crime and forbid them from discussing the charge with anyone, except “in person” with their lawyer (not by email or phone, etc.). Many of the laws restricting free speech make common sense. Some seemed good at the time. They are there by the hundreds.

The second amendment does not specify “no law” regarding the bearing of arms, but says those rights must not be infringed. Common sense has eaten into this amendment as well. For example, our rights to bear a machine gun on a passenger airplane have been sensibly infringed.

Here's my plea: why can't we turn common sense loose on the second amendment as much as we've done to the first? Just as “no law” means “lots of law”, let “shall not be infringed” mean “shall be sensibly infringed”.

Bring it on.

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