Friday, April 27, 2007

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

First up I must say that I have no real right to delve into the US constitution. I’m not American or a constitutional lawyer. But having stuck my toe in these troubled waters, and been attacked for how others perceive my stance, I will follow the advice of Lysander Cadwalader (The right to kill indiscriminately"), and clarify.

The difficult concept, apparently, is that I hold that some provisions of the constitution are anachronisms, if interpreted in their original form. For example, the 2nd amendment was framed in an era of slow loading and largely inaccurate arms.

There is no doubting the intentions of the founding fathers, within the culture of their time. But that aside, the 2nd Amendment relates to a well-regulated militia as well as an associated right to bear arms.

I doubt the US government would entertain any militia, well regulated or otherwise. Yet they fail to address the issue of dangerous assault weapons in the hands of crazed nuts. Speaking of nuts, I can agree, to a small degree, with this self confessed gun nut:

First and foremost—it’s about handguns and concealable firearms—not long guns, shotguns and rifles. The National Rifle Association (NRA) must be reminded of its middle name. And let’s not blame the victims. It’s the shooters. Yes, there may be some peripheral blame to distribute, but keep it in perspective. Confessions of a gun nut
by Tony Bouza

I’m not so enamoured of the NRA position:

People are often surprised when I tell them that the National Rifle Association is a civil rights organization. It's true. The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is a civil right. And what's more, it's the right that protects all the others.
Sandy Froman: an immediate past president of the National Rifle Association of America

The ability to exist in a relatively safe and secure society must equally be a civil right. The problem with these anachronisms, out of time and place, is the conflict they set up between various civil rights.

So here we have the right to bear and used modern assault weapons while we put aside the provision for a “a well-regulated militia”. Let me remind you of the words of Thomas Jefferson:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Is there not a conflict in those several statements which are held so dear in the US?


romunov said...

A lot of exceptions there. For example, death penalty.

You're a bad person if you shoot someone, but you're hailed as a firm leader if you fry a few 100 of them on death roll.

Not to mention the conflict with the so called "religious beliefs" some claim to have, but really don't.

Me, I follow the words of Christ. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
To frame that in modern wording. Your liberties end when my start. You can carry a gun, as long as you don't shoot me. You can smoke, as long as it's away from me. You can fire explosives, as long as no one gets hurt. You can drive a car, as long as you don't hit someone or something, etc.

Cartledge said...

Rom "You can carry a gun, as long as you don't shoot me. You can smoke, as long as it's away from me. You can fire explosives...etc."
I agree entirely. That is one of the more acceptable aspects of the political/economic theory of Liberalism (not the US version).
I don't believe you can legislate good behaviour or morals, it must be part of a wider understanding.

romunov said...

Exactly. That's why you need huge campaigns propagating good behaviour and morals. Changes are possible, but only with persistence and a few decades of time. Unfortunately for us, politics in most of the Western world don't work that way, so we can expect very little help from there.

abi said...

I read recently that since 1968 when Martin Luther King was shot, well over a million Americans have been killed by guns - more than the number of combat deaths in all the wars in US history. That's pretty pathetic.

Cartledge said...

Pathetic? yes. An awesome statistic all the same.

Anonymous said...

I doubt the US government would entertain any militia, well regulated or otherwise.

Conversely, the biggest advocates of so-called "gun rights" would never consider using their firearms to actually defend the Constitution, despite all their overblown rhetoric.

reality-based educator said...

Good post, good comments. Romunov hit it on the head.

Praguetwin said...

Expanding on the point about militia's. I believe (and a lot of gun advocates agree with me here) that the purpose of the militia clause of the 2nd Amendment was to preclude the Feds from needing a large standing Army. The founders feared a strong central government, especially one with a large standing Army.

They did, however, understand that a nation must defend itself. Thus, "a well regulated militia, being essential for the preservation of liberty," means that a nation must defend itself but large standing armies allow a central government to enslave its citizens.

Funny how these gun advocates believe in the right to arm themselves but fail to argue for the reinstatement of the State Militias and the drawing down of a standing army.

Cartledge said...

PT, it is the essential conflict in the way 'advocates' tend to interpret documents like the constitution, or the bible.
It appears an easy thing to ignore one aspect while highlighting another.

Lysander Cadwalader said...


The existence of a large standing American army would only give the Founders more satisfaction that they did indeed guarantee an individual right to arms.

Did we not already have this discussion and did you also not agree?

X Faktor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm an American. The whole, "Pathetic? yes. An awesome statistic all the same." comment really pissed me off.

I'm sorry, but we're all living in countries with screwed up pasts and even worse futures.

America and its civil wars, Germany & Hitler, the USSR (enough said, asshole commies), France & its pansies, Japan and Kamikazes. 'Nuff Said.

Cartledge said...

You are right, and I had no intention of pissing anyone off. Yet none of your comment really addresses those needless gun deaths, in the US, Australia or anywhere else.
The idea is that we mature into adult who can deal with the assaults in a reasonable way.
Australia just did that by getting rid of an immoral uncaring government.


Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence.
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But To-day well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!Nice Comment!