Second Amendment

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To keep and bear the right

bill of rights” . . . The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Since the Supreme Court affirmed (in the District of Columbia v. Heller) that the Second Amendment applies to individuals, there’s not much room in that statement for a need to justify *which* arms to keep and bear.

In fact, you have the right to your guns because of the inalienable right to life, not in spite of it. The right to defend your life is a corollary of the inalienable right to life, which is actually the right not to be killed.

“But,” someone asked me last week during an online discussion, “what about owning an AK-47, an armored tank, or even nuclear weapons?”

A gun or a tank in my neighbor’s yard is not a threat to my life, liberty or property until it’s pointed at me, by an imminent threat or in actuality.

On the other hand, nuclear materials are a real threat to the possessor and those around him, even without a trigger. Because they give off dangerous radiation and decompose (making them even more dangerous) it’s not unreasonable to regulate who may and may not possess nuclear materials, how they’ll be manufactured, stored and transported. Governments may ethically limit their possession because, like biological or chemical weapons, they’re hard to contain, much less accurately aim. They all are able to threaten people nearby, downwind and may even harm future generations.

Inalienable rights aren’t decided by government, much less personal opinion. They are negative and necessarily hierarchical. You may not enjoy a liberty that endangers the life of another, and the government can’t limit rights without prior evidence of a clear infringement of another’s rights.

(For more on rights and ethics, see “Why Ethics?“)

Panel approves assault weapons ban; Cruz, Feinstein get heated – The Hill’s Video

Be very proud of our Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn. They are fighting for rights — the right to speak, the right to read books, the right to keep and bear arms.

Watch the video! “Do they need a bazooka?” Senator Feinstein could just as well ask, “Do they need those books? Do they need all those words?”  I say, Ma’am, rights are not to be limited except to save life in the case of immediate threat.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a ban on the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of semi-automatic weapons with military-style features Thursday in a party-line vote.

The 10-8 vote came after a heated exchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who Feinstein scolded for giving her a “lecture” on the Constitution.

It’s the fourth piece of gun control legislation to make it out of committee and perhaps the one with the longest odds of becoming law, given opposition from Republicans to a new ban on the weapons.

Committee Democrats first beat back four amendments offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would have carved out exceptions to the ban. Cornyn asked for exceptions for victims of domestic violence, military veterans and those living on Southwest border states that he said were affected by Mexican gang violence.

Feinstein, the sponsor of the underlying bill, called the amendments “an effort to nip it and tuck it and create exceptions.”

Cornyn said it would Feinstein’s bill would leave citizens with “peashooters” and outgunned by criminals.

via Panel approves assault weapons ban; Cruz, Feinstein get heated – The Hill’s Video.

Mental Illness and the Second Amendment

The recent killings have exposed a lack of ability on the part of family, doctors, mental health professionals and the legal community to determine in advance of their crimes that the men who murdered were a danger to others.

When there was evidence of mental illness – as in the case of the Virginia State and the Colorado movie theater killers – there was no legal way to protect others from harm.

This is where our State lawmakers should focus their energies.

I’m not sure about the legal precedent – maybe it’s the “every dog gets a bite” theory. (Remember the movie, “Minority Report?” There’s still a healthy belief in free will in our society.)

Physicians are trained to evaluate the evidence not only of our treatments, but of our screening and tests. Is there a way to diagnose and treat those who are a danger to others before they hurt someone? Are our markers for who is a danger to others sensitive enough?

Then, we need to address treatment of the individuals, themselves. is there effective treatment?

The mental illness of these very few individuals doesn’t change the right of everyone around them to defend – and to prepare to defend – themselves. If there isn’t a reliable marker or treatment for the individual, is there justification for “treating” the entire population by infringing on the right guaranteed in the Second Amendment?

History in Australia, China, and other countries where  limits on gun possession are strong – or in Switzerland or Israel, where a large percentage of citizens are armed – does not support the efficacy of disarming law abiding citizens as a means to make everyone safer.

Those who question the right to keep and bear arms need to read about the Founders’ purpose in ratifying the Bill of Rights in the first place and review the process for amending the Constitution. If the right of the People to defend ourselves against any aggressor has changed, there is a Constitutional means to repeal the Second Amendment.

In the meantime, deciding who does and who does not have the right to keep and bear arms is equivalent to deciding who is and who is not “the People.” I don’t believe we want to begin a movement to base any limit – any infringement – on that right, any more than we want to limit the rest of the Bill of Rights.

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