Letter: Time to rewrite a right
In 1789, the right to bear arms guaranteed white, male, landowning voters that they could defend themselves against government overreach. But these slave owning landowners also needed a way to prevent slave uprisings and to discourage “dangerous” slave behavior. Many white men at the time wanted the right to bear arms for reasons which were not exactly altruistic.
At the time, the U.S. government wasn’t posing any threat to their freedom, but armed slaves who got a whiff of equality and inalienable Constitutional rights posed a serious potential treat to their wealth and position.
The Second Amendment could have been written as simply: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It was not and we should ask, “Why?” Well, it’s because white slave owners thought such a general wording would encourage slave uprisings.
The Second Amendment was also not written more specifically as: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, and to suppress slave unrest, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Presumably, this wording offended the same enlightened, progressive white men who initiated our Constitution with the idealistic phrase, “...all men are created equal...”
We must therefore conclude that stating the specific purpose of this right (to form and arm a well regulated militia) is relevant to the right itself. History verifies this. Women were not militiamen. Blacks were not militiamen. Only white, male landowners were permitted in the “well regulated militia.”
It is no longer clear who may have a gun and who may not, and which “arms” are not Constitutionally guaranteed (machine guns, grenades, bazookas, drones, etc.), and where these “arms” are appropriate in a free, civilized society. It’s time to rewrite this right.