, , , , , , ,

Trumbull's Declaration of Independence depicts committee presenting draft Declaration of Independence to Congress. Adams at center has hand on hip.
Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence depicts committee presenting draft Declaration of Independence to Congress. Adams at center has hand on hip.
John Trumbull (June 6, 1756 – November 10, 1843)
Photo credit: Wikipedia

* * *

Dear Friends,

You may ignore what comes after the Great Seal.  It’s the list of documents I examined.

Yesterday, the 17th, I browsed through information concerning the United States.  I needed to know more about the Declaration of Independence ( 6 July 1776), the United States Constitution (created on 17 September 1787, ratified on 21 June 1788) and the United States Bill of Rights, passed on 25 September 1789, ratified on 15 December 1791.

It was a slightly limited search as I need to keep my foot up and lie down frequently.  What I have discovered is that the Second Amendment is obsolete, not to say vestigial.  It belongs to an age when the United States did not have the protection it has acquired since 1788.  In my opinion, it should be revised or removed.

There are certain elements contained in documents such as the United States Constitution and the US Bill of Rights[i] that become obsolete or are eventually considered inappropriate.  That is perfectly normal.  In fact, the United States Constitution (June 21,1788) has been amended seventeen additional times (for a total of 27 amendments).  Times change.  For instance, we have left the age of the horse and buggy.

Here is the text of the Second Amendment.

“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.”

Given that the United States has its various Law Enforcement Agencies, its Armed Forces, its National Guards and, perhaps, other policing agencies I am not aware of, it does not need to allow people to own and carry firearms.

I don’t have to remind anyone that the US Military found and killed Osama bin Laden. That event is fresh in our memory.

I also remember the story of the poor gentleman, kidnapped in a boat, being saved by a marksman or sharpshooter.  You perhaps remember the details.  President Obama did not dally.  He authorized measures that would free this man.

So the Second Amendment is like a fossil as are parts of the Bill of Rights (see footnote [i]).  The Bill of Rights constitutes the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution It therefore includes the Second Amendment.  It was authored by James Madison (16 March 1751 – 28 June 1836), the fourth President of the United States.

Moreover, the United States Declaration of Independence guaranties certain rights:

Under the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826), Americans have:

Moreover, the United States is under the protection of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (UDHR)

I most certainly would not recommend a revolution.  But it would be my opinion that, because of the National Rifle Association‘s successful advocacy of the right to bear arms, the United States all but put a firearm in the hands of shooter Adam Lanza.

Members of the NRA will have to accept that the Constitution of the United States no longer justifies ownership by a civilian of a firearm.  The Second Amendment has become a lame amendment that allows aberrant behavior.  It made it possible for Adam Lanza, a civilian, to gun down twenty children and six adults, not to mention the murder of his mother and his suicide.

As I wrote on the 15th, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is therefore complicit in all the mass killings that have taken place in the last twenty years or so.  However, on second thought, I must qualify my statement because the system itself, Washington, has shamelessly given in to the NRA’s advocacy of the “right” to bear arms.  In other words, it is legal for civilians to own and carry firearms even though there is no need for them to do so and despite the fact that they now imperil innocent lives.  I am already hearing myself say: when and where will a massacre happen again?

In short, last Friday, Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and 6 adults not just because Adam Lanza broke down, but because he broke down and had a powerful firearm.  And if he had a powerful firearm, it is because the system, i.e. the nation, is letting itself be ruled, not by reason, but by the NRA.  So the nation allowed an egregious violation of the basic tenet of its own Declaration of Independence: the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

President Obama is right.  The nation must change.  But there is a difficulty.  Does the nation want to change?  I believe Americans are divided on the issue of gun ownership, but that a growing number of US citizens will now want change.  Last Friday’s massacre was heart-breaking.  Children died.  Therefore, I hope sincerely that those who want change will carry the day.  Quite frankly, if I were an American mother, I would be tempted to keep my child home until it is illegal for civilians to buy and carry firearms and all firearms have been confiscated.

This idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration (Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900) was widely reprinted.

This idealized depiction of (left to right) Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson working on the Declaration (Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1900) was widely reprinted.

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) a Founding Father
John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826), 2nd President of the United States
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826), a Founding Father and the 3rd President of the United States
US Great Sea;

US Great Seal

The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776)

Wikipedia tells me that the

Declaration of Independence justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution. Since then, it has come to be considered a major statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

From the Declaration of Independence

1. Natural and Legal Rights

“Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. In contrast, legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by the law of a particular political and legal system, and therefore relative to specific cultures and governments.” (Natural and Legal Rights, Wikipedia)

2. Human Rights

Human rights are commonly understood as “inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.” (Human Rights, Wikipedia)

3. The Right to Revolution

“In political philosophy, the right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Belief in this right extends back to ancient China, and it has been used throughout history to justify various rebellions, including the American Revolution and the French Revolution.”  (The Right to Revolution, Wikipedia)

From the Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), (10 December 1948, United Nations).

Article 1 (UDHR)

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

From the Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States (full text)
The United States Constitution (Wikipedia entry)

The Second Amendment:

“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.”

The Bill of Rights before revisions

“Originally, the Bill of Rights implicitly legally protected only white men, excluding American Indians, people considered to be “black” (now described as African-Americans), and women. These exclusions were not explicit in the Bill of Rights’ text, but were well understood and applied.” (United States Bill of Rights, Wikipedia)

[i] Please read the above quotation.

* * *

© Micheline Walker
December 18th, 2012