Monday, February 4, 2013

Weapon restriction is not a violation of the Second Amendment

Limitations exist on all natural rights

One of the deepest criticisms I receive, especially as of late, is that I continually and consistently attack the Second Amendment. The “right to bear arms” doesn’t seem to be my favorite of the Bill of Rights, as I’ve posted regularly on the need to restrict certain weapons that were originally designed for military use but have since seeped into civilian use as well.

I don’t take these criticisms lightly, defending my position constantly in the heated (but mostly cordial) arguments on the rights of citizens.

I look at the Second Amendment in a literal sense: and, if we read deeper into the second clause of it, I don’t think that my views necessarily conflict with the intent and meaning of the law.

“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.”

What is necessary to preserve the “right of the people to keep and bear arms?” To the most ardent gun rights proponent, it means that every weapon ought to be available to them. It means that any restrictions, and any laws barring individuals from owning certain weaponry, is an infringement of the right.

Yet, the right being bestowed here isn’t an unlimited arsenal to be owned by individuals, but rather the right for people to keep weapons for their own self protection. Restrictions of certain weapons don’t infringe upon the rights of the people, so long as they have adequate access to other means of securing and defending themselves.

To use an example, barring the future sale and distribution of an AR-15 wouldn’t infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of the people because it doesn’t remove the rights for owning other weapons. An outright ban of arms would be an unnecessary and despotic move; but limiting what the public can own, if it’s deemed to be a weapon of significant damage, is a reasonable response to a growing trend of violence while still keeping true to the words of the Second Amendment.

To be sure, the right of the people to “keep and bear arms” isn’t derived from any document, from the pen of any man’s quill; but rather, the right to defend oneself is a natural right, as are all rights we are entitled to having.

Still, this natural right doesn’t mean we should have an unlimited access to weaponry -- as with other natural rights, there are restrictions that are put in place to keep the populace protected. For example, a person can’t use their speech rights as a defense for shouting “BOMB!” on a plane or divulging state secrets to enemy states. Such actions cause potential harm to others, though the harm produced cannot be measured directly.

So it is with gun rights as well. When society deems that certain weaponry, when made public, can wind up causing more harm than good, it’s justifiable to restrict their use solely to the military and police.

Who determines what weaponry should be restricted and to what extent is up for vigorous debate. It shouldn’t be a matter taken lightly; there can be overreaches, and when those occur they should be remedied immediately.

But to say that ANY restrictions on weapons violates the Second Amendment is an opinion I take exception with -- certain restrictions, when done reasonably, do not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. So long as the people retain the ability to keep themselves safe and secure, with reasonable weaponry they feel will work to achieve that end, the Second Amendment is not being violated.


  1. Chris,

    You're basing your argument here on the claim that the 2nd Amendment grants "the right for people to keep weapons for their own self protection", and that it is thus limited in scope. I'm not sure where you're getting that from. Not only is the scope of the amendment not defined and thus cannot be derived from the text, but if you can't even honestly base that argument on the intention of the amendement. If we are going to look at the intention - which we don't need to do, but just humor me here - we can assume that the purpose was to allow people to protect themselves, their families, their properties, their businesses, and their communities, all of which came under attack by the British. Your entire argument is based on a claim that is completely unsupportable.

    You also need to understand what the word "infringe" means. Any restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms - ANY restrictions - infringe upon that right by simple definition. I don't have the right to yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater. That restriction is an infringement upon my rights. It is, however, a reasonable restriction. Now, I don't disagree with you that it is reasonable to ban assault weapons. It is, to be sure, incredibly reasonable. However, it's still unconstitutional. If there was an amendment that read, "The right of the people to shout things in crowded theaters shall not be infringed", then banning me from shouting "FIRE!" would, while still reasonable, be unconstitutional.

    You're thinking too small. The 2nd Amendment is in place precisely to prevent the government from restricting or in any way infringing upon the rights of people to own any guns. As long as the 2nd Amendment is in place, any attempts to ban or restrict the bearing of arms will be unconstitutional. That's just a reality. The only way to settle this debate once and for all is to amend the amendment. If it read, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms deemed necessary and sufficient for the protection of themselves and their families, limited by Congress, shall not be infringed.", then your argument would hold water.

    You're conclusion is not wrong, but your arguments and assumptions weaken your position by making you appear foolish and ignorant. Think before you write, Chris.

  2. The previous writer seems to define "arms" as "firearms", but such a restriction is not mentioned in the 2nd Amendment. Surely if this was the original intent, the Founding Fathers would have written "… the right of the people to keep and bear FIREARMS shall not be infringed", but of course they didn’t. If we accept the most common definition of arms as "weapons", with no qualifiers (since no qualifiers are specified in the Amendment) then it follows the 2nd Amendment can be interpreted as "… the right of the people to keep and bear nuclear arms, biological arms, any and all arms, shall not be infringed".

    Most folks would find this absurd.

    If the previous writer happened to my neighbor, I wonder how he/she would react if I explained I exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by keeping a large cache of dynamite and weaponized toxic chemicals on my property?

    The 2nd Amendment is NOT an unlimited right (as affirmed by SCOTUS in Heller) and restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms do not necessarily infringe.