THE SECOND AMENDMENT — A SECOND LOOK
Its time to take a fresh look at the Second Amendment. The amendment, which allows Americans to “keep and bear arms” is more than two centuries old and looks older every day.
I’m not advocating gun control. In the wake of recent shootings, it’s too late for that. The guns are out there and no one can bring ‘em back alive. If pressed, the Supreme Court would likely rule that random gunfire, like campaign spending, is free speech. But with guns about as likely to be restricted as smart phones, the least we can ask for is an amendment that explains all this shootin’ goin’ on.
In case you haven’t read it lately, the Second Amendment reads: “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.”
It sounds so simple, so reasonable, so open to any first-grader’s misinterpretation. Yet the words have wrinkles and crows feet. “Arms,” which in 1789 meant flintlock rifles, now means 9mm Glocks and AR-!5 Bushmasters. And in an age of drone strikes and dirty bombs, the idea of a militia being “necessary” is as relevant as Yankee Doodle. To bring it up to speed, the Second Amendment needs a second look. Consider the following rough drafts.
“A loosely regulated lunatic fringe of raging white males being the by-product of a free State, the right of all disturbed individuals to wield semi-automatics shall not be restricted.”
Naaah. Too angry. Perhaps:
“A Congress in the hip pocket of the NRA being necessary for its own re-election, the right of anyone who can button his shirt to be armed to the teeth shall be ranted and chanted across the Internet.”
As our forefathers learned, when you’re writing an amendment, phrasing is everything. You need just the right words, elegant yet wide open to any clownish, seething, Yahoo-comments type interpretation that may arise. We need an amendment so elastic, so vague that it can be stretched from Orlando to San Bernardino and back. We need wording such as:
“A culture of random, senseless violence being necessary to TV ratings and the gaming industry, the right of all children to have their homicidal fantasies reinforced on a daily basis shall not be infringed.”
Getting close. But what about the victims? Don’t they have rights? Here’s one for them:
“Massive denial about deadly weapons being necessary for the serenity of the average citizen, the right to proclaim ‘It can’t happen here’ shall not be given serious thought — until it happens here.”
When you write an amendment, the devil is in the details. Leave out just one point and all your careful wording is like so many spent shells. Have I forgotten any technicality? Oh yes, there’s this one:
“The likelihood that a law-abiding citizen ‘packin’ heat’ will be shot being four times that of an unarmed citizen, the right of every anti-social nutcase to own enough guns to mow down everyone in his neighborhood shall not be infringed.”
With Congress on recess, some combination of the above can perhaps be forged into a new, improved Second Amendment. As we move onward into an angrier, open carry America, this amendment will protect the right to bear arms for all Americans, be they law-abiding, terrorist, or just deeply troubled. And such an amendment might even help us make sense of the next shooting. And the next… And the next… And…