Ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the emotional aftermath of the Parkland, FL, school shootings, thinks it’s time to discuss the 2nd Amendment.
She’s right, but for the wrong reasons. She’s right because it’s always time for We the People to discuss our Constitution and every part of it, and not only in the 8th grade Civics classes we all slept through at the time.
She’s wrong, too.
I think it is time to have a conversation about what the right to bear arms means in the modern world. I don’t understand why civilians need to have access to military weapons. We wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank.
Seemingly contradictorily, Rice also said this in response to a Hewitt question about her father, while Rice was a young child, sitting on the family’s porch with a gun across his lap:
I remember so well bombs going off in our neighborhood one night, and my father said, he put everybody in the car and we’re going to go to the police. And my mother said the police probably set that bomb off. And that’s the way that our community, therefore, the men in our community, protected us. And I think it’s a pure version of the 2nd Amendment, as a matter of fact, the right to bear arms.
Because then (and in the era when the Constitution with its Bill of Rights was ratified, and now), government was a much a threat to our individual liberties, rights, duties, as any thief, home invader, or murderer.
That’s why, also, the 2nd Amendment does not allow government to dictate to us our purpose in bearing arms. Government’s lack of understanding about why we want this or that weapon simply is irrelevant. And frankly, so is Rice’s lack of understanding. We wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank. Why not? Keep in mind, the heavy weapons of our Revolutionary War, cannons, often were privately owned. It was very impractical for a host of reasons for ordinary men to own cannons then, and it’s just as impractical, for the same reasons, for ordinary men to own tanks today. True enough, what we were pleased to call a government in that war owned most of the cannons, just as our government today owns the tanks. But the purpose of private ownership, for all those impracticalities, is irrelevant to government consideration.
…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There’s nothing in there that says unless Government disagrees with the people’s or any person’s purpose, nor is there anything that says Arms are limited to these specific ones, nor is there anything that allows a private citizen—a neighbor, say—to block the keeping or the bearing.
The text of the 2nd Amendment is inviolate and not open to reinterpretation at will. Like each of the clauses of our Constitution, the text provides a very clear meaning, and that meaning does not change with the winds of grief any more than it changes with the evolving standards view of a judge. If the meaning of the 2nd Amendment needs to be changed, it must be done legitimately, by the will of a majority of We the People in each of a supermajority of our several States. That’s what Article V is for.
And for the record: I don’t agree that the 2nd Amendment needs change; it’s fine the way it is. What is needed is for the Feds and the State government to enforce the—constitutional—laws that are on the books. To have law enforcement actually perform instead of tarrying outside by a stairwell support column, instead of gathering law enforcement persons dithering until law enforcement officers from another department arrive. To allow the real first responders—those already on scene, whether school, store, or public square, and whether trained and armed for the purpose or private citizen(s) who happen to be present and carrying when an incident starts—actually to respond.
It’s a wide-ranging interview, covering much more than just the 2nd Amendment. RTWT.