Regardless of which side of the gun debate you stand on, when you talk about guns and the second amendment, you’re compelled to speak a strange variation on English.
I’m not talking about the words in the amendment itself. They’re actually quite clear. In the context of a well-regulated militia being the arbiter, whoever the militia decides deserving will be permitted to “keep and bear” (not “own” – that perfectly good word did not get used here) the arms in question. The implication is equally clear: if that well-regulated militia decides one of its members no longer deserves to keep and bear an arm – or if the well-regulated militia goes and changes its own regulations out of concern for public safety – then that’s within their Constitutional rights to do so.
No, I’m talking about how people talk about the gun debate itself. It struck me this morning while listening to a responsible legislator take a responsible position on guns. He pointed out that he was a gun owner who “believed in the second amendment”. Never mind the responsible position he had already taken. In his mind, he still had to prove his bona fides to be taken seriously. Gun ownership – okay. It puts you in “both camps”. Can’t argue.
But the “I believe in the second amendment” is where it gets weird.
I’m sure that same well-meaning legislator would insist he “believes” equally in all the other amendments, too. But, if engaged in casual conversation about, say the eighth amendment (“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted”), I really, really doubt said well-meaning legislator would feel compelled to throw in “And, by the way, I’m a believer in the right to not have excessive bail throw at ya!”
See what I mean? I’ll bet that’s never happened. Not with the eighth, not with the sixth, not even with the Thirteenth Amendment – the one abolishing slavery.
Whatever anyone might say about any of the other amendments, no one says “I believe” in the amendment like it was some separate entity that had to be approached differently from every other amendment. Which is exactly what the Second Amendment is.
Of all the amendments to “believe in”. Of all the other freedoms to “believe in”. Of everything enumerated in the whole Constitution to “believe in”.
Only thirty percent of Americans own guns. So – right away, we’re talking from a minority position. Now, I’m just asking a question here. I don’t have an answer. Just suspicions that I hope you agree deserve suspicion. How did a word we use to discuss religion become associated with a product designed to kill living things?
The object we’re talking about – guns – regardless of whether you like them or loathe them – are designed from the ground up to send a hot, metal projectile flying toward a live target with the intention of killing it. If the person pulling the trigger is any good with this weapon, that projectile will find its mark and finish the job it was designed to do.
Yes, yes, defense and all that. Stone, cold reality says all those guns play a hell of a lot more offense than defense. Despite what anyone “believes”, people can’t seem to resist using guns to do what they were made to do: kill.
Like I said – I’m just here to ask a question. Isn’t “killing” a strange thing to “believe in”?