Sandy Hook… Uvalde… Las Vegas… Orlando… Marjory Stoneman… Columbine… Every-damned-day-in-America! How the hell did it come to this? True Fact: we have been bamboozled into accepting a bullshit framing of the Second Amendment. We have it in our heads now that the 2A is a gun *rights* amendment. It’s the exact opposite – there is no right to individual gun ownership – and it’s right there in the amendment’s text.
“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 as written
Notice something? A missing word? Cos one word IS missing & it’s pretty damned important.
The word “own” appears nowhere. Repeat – N O W H E R E !
That isn’t an accident. The word “own” was perfectly good back then. It meant the same now as then in fact!
The Language Of The Constitution
Now, remember – the Constitution is written in contract English. It’s not meant to be poetry or opinion or fiction. Specificity is very, very important. Words must mean specific things. Vagueness is the enemy of good contract law and our Constitution is the basis for our contract law.
James Madison – the 2A’s author – understood what “own” meant. And he understood what “keep” and “bear” meant, too – and that neither “keep” nor “bear” equaled “own”. And that’s why he avoided “own” in the 2A.
The 2A does say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”, but there are words that precede it. And those words create the context for the “keeping” and “bearing” (not owning) of said arms.
What Madison called “a well regulated Militia” we now call “the National Guard”. The issue Madison was dealing with wasn’t individual Americans demanding guns. The states – not its citizens – wanted the right to protect themselves from armed federal over-reach. More context: a deep division between federalists and the states’ rights crowd. As written – and in the context Madison wrote in (not some imaginary person) – individual gun ownership is never – repeat NEVER – on the table. That’s why he never used the word “own”.
Keeping & Bearing v Owning
If I join my National Guard, when I show up for training, I won’t bring my guns with me. The Guard will provide arms – as needed and when needed. When my time with the Guard is over, will I take my gun with me? No. It isn’t mine., It belongs to the Guard – and they will demand that I give it back.
While I was in the Guard, that well regulated Militia allowed me to “keep” and “bear” those arms. The Guard owns the guns. Period.
There is NO right to individual gun ownership in the Second Amendment. It just ain’t there. That we act like it is there? That’s a perversion foisted on us by the gun manufacturers and their servant the NRA.
Kudos to them for being clever. They convinced America that the 2A says something it absolutely does not.
Meet My Witness: Tony Scalia
Want proof that I’m right about this? Here’s my witness: Antonin Scalia. Here’s my evidence – his Heller Decision.
We have been further bamboozled into thinking Scalia’s Heller decision shoots down most gun control laws. Scalia must still be laughing at us all because he pulled the ultimate linguistic sleight of hand on us. Know what word isn’t in Heller – anywhere? “OWN”.
Go read it. The whole thing. The word “own” isn’t there. And that’s not an accident either. In his conclusion, Scalia uses the word “possess” instead of “keep” or “bear”. He doesn’t dare use “own”.
Now, if you look up “possess” in the OED, one of its definitions is indeed “own”. One could connect those dots in that way. But not in a contract. “Possess” cannot equal “own” in a contract!
I Now “Own” Tony Scalia
Ask any rent-a-car company. Or any company that rents out equipment. Or space. If “possess” truly equaled “own”, we’d live in a state of perpetual chaos. That’s why – in a contract – “own” and “possess” are different things. They do not equate.
Scalia knew that if he used the word “own”, first he’d have to explain why it wasn’t in the 2A to begin with. He knew that was a can of indigestible worms. He’d have to point out that individual gun OWNERSHIP is not a Constitutionally guaranteed right.
Never was. Isn’t now. Shouldn’t be going forward.
Assignment: Think Differently
We need to fix this. It IS fixable but it requires all of us to demand that our legislators read the damned 2A and explain where the word “own” is.
What does this mean? If gun owners want the Constitutional right to own guns, they’ll have to have their legislators write legislation that gives them the right to own guns WITHIN THE CONTEXT of the Constitution & the 2A. Gun control advocates shouldn’t be the ones trying to make deals, the gun owners should be! They’re the ones with the Giant “Ask” – to own death machines.
That’s what guns are by design, don’t forget. They’re literal death machines. Their whole design is focused on sending a piece of hot metal flying at speed at a living object so as to kill it. That’s a gun.
And – per the Constitution and the 2A – no one in America has the individual right to own one.