Executions of the Third of May, by Francisco Goya, 1814
El Sueño de la razón produce monstruos, by Francisco Goya
Allow me a few more comments on “entitlement” or “self-entitlement,” a state of mind that currently numbs reason among members of the National Rifle Association. As I have written before, the spirit of the Second Amendment is to protect the American people, which it no longer does despite the presence of a “well regulated [sic] militia.” Consequently, by virtue of the Second Amendment itself, one cannot allow the bearing of firearms by civilians as it now endangers “the security of a free state.” Matters have turned around and the law should reflect current needs.
El Tres de mayo 1808
Francisco Goya (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828)
Museo del Prado (Madrid)
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (second image)
Photo credit for both images: Wikipedia
Entitlement or Self-Entitlement
“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 Second Amendment)
Citizens all over the world are entitled to safety. In other words, they have “rights.” However, entitlement, when carried too far, may and does stand in the way of reason. In fact, at a certain point, self-entitlement constitutes a mental disorder. Let me quote Wikipedia again:
“In clinical psychology and psychiatry, an unrealistic, exaggerated, or rigidly held sense of entitlement may be considered a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, seen in those who ‘because of early frustrations… arrogate to themselves the right to demand lifelong reimbursement from fate.'” (Entitlement)
The initial purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure “the security of a free state,” the “free state” lacking a “well regulated militia.” If members of the National Rifle Association cannot see that the United States now possesses “a well regulated militia,” i.e. the necessary law-enforcement agencies, and that the bearing of arms currently threatens “the security of a free state,” they and their supporters have lost the ability to use “reason” and imperil “the security of a free state.” Thousands of Americans die from gun violence every year, including children, thereby making it obvious that people who bear arms threaten the safety of a “free state.” If Americans did not bear arms, no American could shoot another American and potential killers could not purchase the powerful firearms that enable them to shoot innocent schoolchildren.
The Social Contract
Interestingly, by threatening “the security of a free state,” the NRA also threatens the Social contract and, therefore, the very concept of nationhood. The purpose of nationhood is safety. In its entirety, the United States Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) and adopted by the Second Continental Congress, reads as follows:
“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”
There may be flaws in the United States Declaration of Independence, but it would be my conviction that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” are “unalienable Rights.” Consequently, members of the National Rifle Association are at odds with the United States Declaration of Independence. Because of guns, lives are lost. If I were a parent living in the United States, I would fear letting my children attend school. Moreover, those parents who have lost children to a gunman, the parents of Newtown, grieve profoundly and will probably do so until they reach the end of their own journey on earth.
In short, given that they live in defiance of the Social contract, members of the National Rifle Association cannot be considered fully fledged citizens, no more than the rich people who deposit their money in offshore accounts. Such people also threaten the concept of nationhood. In fact, it could well be that Americans who once owned slaves and now refuse to pay their fair share of taxes feel they are entitled to a measure of compensation for a “right” they have lost. Yet, slavery is not consistent with the declaration of independence which holds as “truths” that “Life, Liberty [my bold letters] and the pursuit of Happiness” are “unalienable Rights.” Slavery was an aberration.
A Quotation from the Boston Globe
May I quote the first paragraph of an article by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby entitled: ‘All men are created equal’ is not hypocrisy but vision and published on 4 July 2010 (please click on the title to read the entire article).
‘HOW IS it,’’ the great English man of letters Samuel Johnson [my link] taunted Americans 235 years ago, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?’’ His fellow Englishman Thomas Day [my link] remarked in 1776 with equal scorn: “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature it is an American patriot signing resolutions of independency with the one hand and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.’’
The Spirit and the Letter of the Second Amendment
We owe Montesquieu (18 January 1689 – 10 February 1755), a political thinker, as were Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the useful distinction between the spirit and the letter of the law. Within bounds, the letter of the law does not always reflect faithfully the spirit of the law. Yet, the letter of the law cannot contradict the spirit of the law in its totality. That would be a mockery of justice.
In my opinion, worded in full, the Second Amendment should state that “a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, [in the absence of a well regulated militia] the [current] right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That would be its spirit. Statements need not always be worded in full because parts are inferred (see inference) and, therefore, understood.
There is currently in the United States a well-regulated militia.
I will conclude by writing that certain goals remain, such goals as “the security of a free state.” However, the means can change. Before the invention of airplanes, a New Yorker’s goal may have been to go to Paris, but his means of getting there was to board a trans-Atlantic or Ocean liner.
Similarly, a former means of ensuring the safety of citizens, the use of firearms by civilians, has changed. Given that the United States now has “a well regulated militia” and because the former right to bear arms currently threatens the “security of a free state,” bearing arms should be controlled to the fullest extent. At the moment, the goal, i.e. the “security of a free state,” or its safety, has rendered null and void the former “right” to “bear arms,” firearms threatening the “security of a free state.” The means, bearing arms, must therefore be changed, and, as I wrote above, it must be changed by virtue of the Second Amendment itself: “the security of a free state.”
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Luigi Boccherini (February 19, 1743 – May 28, 1805)
“Quintetto In Do Maggiore La Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid Op. 30, No. 6 (G. 324): Il Rosario – Largo Assai – Allegro – Largo Come Prima”
Rolf Lislevand, Le Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall
(My dear colleague Stefania has used this piece of music. Allow me to praise her excellent taste.)
The painting is by Francisco Goya and is entitled: “Dance of the Majos at the Banks of Manzanares.” (Photo credit: Goya, The Complete Works).
Los Desastres de la guerra. Y no hai remedio
(The Disasters of War. And there is no remedy),
by Francisco Goya, Museo del Prado
Photo credit: Wikipedia
June 11, 2013