The Myth of the Second Amendment

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

The Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud’, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” [1]
Warren E. Burger, Republican, 15th Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1986

Americans who think they have Second Amendment rights are deluding themselves, and they do so either knowingly in their blindfolded, uncompromising passion for guns, or in blunt ignorance of their own country’s history. The latter, in all probability, may present the larger segments of the population fascinated with gun smoke.

On that score, it is not easy to ascertain the mindset of a sole, highly educated county commissioner who found himself in the position to publicly expressing his personal support for the Second Amendment per resolution – as if his district of responsibility, Union County in North Georgia, had all of the sudden ascended to the hub of the universe. More likely, as an alleged Democrat in charge of an area where 81 percent of the constituents chose Donald Trump, the local man named Lamar Paris might have felt pressure from several sides alike to assure the gun freaks that nobody will take their toys away – just like a kindergartener would comfort her little flock.

In a packed meeting on January 21, 2021, the riflemen’s ardor took on overheated forms in such a way that Paris seemingly had to press every button of his appeasement skills to prevent his county possibly named a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.” Festus, Marshal Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, and Doc Adams – that’s for sure – would have gotten a real kick out of so much rampant devotion, had they only been able to attend such exceptional meeting.  

The alleged background of the commotion constituted fearful gun owners emotionally backfiring on imaginary government attacks directed at their “Second Amendment rights”, particularly after the political signals in their home state had just recently turned from red to blue.

In such an atmosphere, it is hard to imagine that historic facts, let alone rationality, will play any role to people still roaming through the woods in search for animals like once Daniel Boone. These folks take nothing but their own version of truth to their heart and will never be convinced about the functionality of any logical mechanisms in the human brain. And they will always and with all possible self-confidence stick to their own convictions or whatever they were told by their deluders, come hell or high water, and no matter how surreal these convictions to others might appear.

But, as is mostly the case, historic facts speak a different language and seldom neither match nor serve ardent escapist’s wishful thinking. The Second Amendment, written 232 years ago by a founding father named James Madison, who later was to become the nation’s fourth president, never gave any American citizens the right to bear arms – neither back then, nor today. The infamous lines were clearly born out of necessity, namely, the state’s then-insistence to maintain their own militias, responsible for their defense themselves in preference to a standing, federal army. At the will of the states, the state militias were to constitute the foundation of the national defense.

As a result, the draft for the Second Amendment Madison was working on, originating from Virginia, read as follows: “The people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper national, and safe defense of a free state. That standing armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided.” [2]

Warren Burger was not the first chief justice expressing his truthful interpretation of the Second Amendment. Alluding to the groundbreaking 2008 “District of Columbia versus Heller” decision by the Supreme Court, US-Historian Professor Joseph Ellis writes: “The Heller Decision by [Justice Antonin] Scalia purports to be an originalist interpretation of Madison’s meanings in the spring of 1789 and the meanings ordinary Americans at that time shared concerning ‘the right to bear arms.’ It is nothing of that sort. And no federal or Supreme Court between 1789 and 2008 ever reached the conclusion. Scalia did. Indeed, the true originalist opinion in Heller is by Justice Stevens, who argued that “bear arms” meant serve in the militia.” [3]

In this context, legalistic legerdemains within the branches of the US-government, conducted by some if not many of their representatives influenced by lobbying, have made this fraud possible and turned the Second Amendment and its true meaning literally on its head.

Epilogue: To me, chief justice’s Warren Burgers remarks from 1991, very likely aimed at the National Rifle Association (NRA), left an even deeper impression since he used the term “special interest groups” – an extremely applicable term from the beginnings of human history on, and distinctive as always. For thinking Americans living in present times, a careful observation of these special interest groups might lead them closer to a more realistic perception about the true reasons for the misfortune in their country. These are the groups (institutions) of interests (the few versus the many – see John Adams) that – undisturbed by law and government – take advantage of people’s widespread simplemindedness, and in addition they are perfectly skilled to clandestinely line their own pockets with billions, sometimes under the pretense of the Good Samaritan, and even referencing to God on their holy Sunday morning sessions. Restraining the veritable, greedy sources that cause bitterness for the majority in this society, is a better approach than according credibility to conspiracy theorists and any other blabbermouths – no matter where they place themselves in front of a seducible audience.

Notes

[1] The quote is taken from “Six Amendments – How and Why we Should Change the Constitution”, page 127; John Paul Stevens, former Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Also available in “American Dialogue – the Founders and Us”, Joseph J. Ellis, page 161. – On the subject: Interview Warren Burger/PBS News Hour on 12/16/1991: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eya_k4P-iEo

[2] See Joseph J. Ellis, “American Dialogue – the Founders and Us”, page 147.

[3] US-Historian Professor Joseph J. Ellis in a letter to the author of this article, dated 04/10/2018.

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