Much has been said about the failed attempt to pass the gun background check law through the Senate recently, but I’ll say some more things about it since it’s hardly an issue I can ignore — especially since I’m a fan of good government. I find it hard to swallow that the biggest stumbling block in the way of generalized law, order, and a civilized society these days is our duly elected Congress, particularly the Senate 46 who voted against background checks. This is definitely not good government.
I guess I’m most troubled by the notion that law-abiding citizens need lethal weaponry in order to walk down the streets in 21st century America (and I’m not talking about you hunters and your shotguns . . . I know the deer herds must be thinned). On the other hand, I understand why criminals need guns. Heaven knows, I watched every episode of The Sopranos and it seemed quite sensible for Tony Soprano to carry a gun. He had every reason to fear for his life. Bank robbers, of course, need guns, too. But how many among us are mob bosses and bank robbers? And why would the Senate 46 want to help out the Sopranos and the Dillingers of America with their criminal lifestyles?
And what law-abiding citizen fears a criminal background check, i.e., a computer search for criminal arrests, convictions, sojourns behind bars, etc. To rent many apartments or buy a condo these days, one must agree to (and pay for) a criminal background check. Various jobs and nearly all licensed professionals require such an investigation. But we have 46 senators (and no telling how many House members) who think that this rather wimpy gun control measure is way too much control for individuals to suffer through in exchange for acquiring a killing machine.
Such a position, however, flies in the face of what polls tell us about the Americans the Senate 46 purportedly represent. It’s been reported that 90% of Americans said they were in favor of closing the gun show background check loophole and requiring all sales to be subject to background checks. In North Dakota, that number is 94%, which really makes me wonder who Heidi Heitkamp thinks she represents. It’s hard to believe that the Senate 46 are expecting to get re-elected from that voting block of 6-10% who most likely couldn’t pass a background check and probably aren’t registered to vote.
And what is really galling is that when election time rolls around, these 46 senators will be among those who sound off loudest and most often about the need for more law and order. And that’s because they know full well that big chunks of American voters are in favor of the law and order concept. In other words, coddling criminals is not something that gets you elected to office . . . just ask Michael Dukakis who was wrongly smeared on the issue.
So, if it isn’t the criminal element that the Senate 46 wants to cuddle with, maybe it’s that special group of so-called Americans who say they need lethal weapons to “protect themselves from the government.” That sounds so delusional, I assume these are the folks who are bogarting that medical marijuana! That’s, like so 18-19th century, man. If you missed high school history class during the Civil War chapter, here’s the Cliffs Note’s version: the U.S. government won. And surely you’ve read your Insurrectionist Monthly and feature on the more recent poster boy for insurrection, David Koresh, a.k.a. the Waco whacko. But as someone recently pointed out, you could have a compound with millions of rounds to shoot at the government folks, but they have, let’s see, hmmm . . . everything else? Yes, everything from bullets to tanks to nuclear weapons. And drones, too. So, the way I see it, any self-respecting insurrectionist needs at least a tank or two, but are we going to interpret the Second Amendment to allow tank ownership? And by the way, has anyone suggested that the Senate 46 could be accused of harboring traitors by empowering these insurrectionists?
Yes, maybe our country was founded by insurrectionists, but that was a one-time deal. A government of the people, by the people, for the people doesn’t last long if those people are gunning for each other and/or trying to ditch the duly constituted representatives of government. Maybe we should try convincing insurrectionists to self-deport to a deserted island where they can run their own show, grow weed and shoot as many fellow-citizens as they like.
And what about the misread of the Second Amendment’s plain language in the name of strict construction? I’m not sure whether it’s hysterical blindness or selective dyslexia, but there’s more to the second amendment than that single clause stating “ . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In fact, that clause is prefaced with — subordinate to — another clause, deliberately ignored by these so-called strict constructionists: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State . . . ”
Thus, if one adheres to the principal of legal interpretation – where every word in a statutory/constitutional provision must be considered to have been included for a reason and interpreted in harmony with every other word – the right of the people to bear arms assumes that those people bearing arms are part of a well-regulated militia. And just because militias are no longer part of the American military landscape doesn’t mean that we get to ignore the prefatory language and adopt a new meaning by taking the second clause completely out of its context. That is equivalent to re-writing or amending the amendment, which is impermissible without going through the amendment process in Article V.
Simply put, our founding fathers did not believe that guns were a good thing per se; the right to keep them in the wake of separation from Great Britain was inextricably linked with the need to have a well-regulated militia. And while I haven’t researched it, I bet George Washington had a word or two to say on the subject of “well-regulated” in the second amendment, given that his biggest headache in fighting the American Revolution, according to historian David McCullough, was that the state militias he commanded were a rag-tag lot, undisciplined, and certainly not well-regulated.
So, the more I considered the Senate 46 and their willingness to thumb their collective nose at the prospect of more dead children, citizens, theater-goers, and congresspeople, I realized that I had to turn to fantasy to understand these people. You Trekkies and occasional Star Trek watchers can guess where I’m going: Congress has been assimilated by the Borg, the alien race that periodically threatened the Enterprise. The Borg, as I now understand it, is the National Rifle Association which spends big ($32 million in 2012) to elect guns-for-all-anytime candidates and defeat those who don’t support these goals, people’s lives be damned. The Senate 46 have all bought into the notion that resistance is futile if they want to get re-elected, because having a career in Congress is more important than the lives of people and the NRA will get them re-elected. That’s the only reasonable explanation for this vote.
Here’s the only reasonable response: get the list and vote them out of office. Since the Senate 46 cannot, it’s up to us to resist the Borg.