Since Orlando, there has been a lot of talk about doing away with the Second Amendment, for example: here and here. A Facebook commenter put it this way: “And I don’t give a damn about the Second Amendment, and I think the ‘self-defense’ rationale as it is usually presented is wrapped up in a mix of racist horseshit and delusional male power fantasy.”
The above video features ex-cop Michael Wood, who is very much in favor of gun control of the sort that would eventually see guns being all but completely unavailable to the average citizen. Wood begins this portion of his interview with Joe Rogan by plainly stating that the average citizen does not have the right to own a gun (approx. 1:53):
“OK, you set up a couple premises there…one of them is that they [citizens] have a right to that weapon, which I’m gonna argue to the end of the day that they don’t.”
Wood says that the Constitution makes it clear that gun ownership is only for the “well-regulated militia,” and explicitly and clearly gun ownership is not permitted to Joe Average. Because the Constitution says so.
In the very next sentence, however, he says this (approx. 2:17):
“I’m not a big fan of the Constitution and leaning on it because the world has changed dramatically…”
So on the one hand, he’ll argue to the end of the day that the Constitution limits gun ownership to a militia, but simultaneously doesn’t want to “lean on” the Constitution. Um, okay…
Then Rogan reads the complete text of the 2nd Amendment (approx. 31:00) and points out correctly that the Amendment also clearly states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Rogan and Wood then try to flesh out what that means, even though it’s crystal clear. And not to get off into the 2nd Amendment weeds here, but my interpretation of the text is this: you’ve got to be able to get a militia together if you’re going to protect a free state, and the only way to get a militia together is if individual people own guns, so we recognize that personal ownership and use of firearms is an important right.
Even those who use the argument that guns can only be used in the context of a well-regulated militia because of the clarity of the clause which says that—as Wood does—must concede that the second clause about not infringing the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms is also equally clear. The problem comes in when the gun-control people want to make the two clauses mutually exclusive, i.e., the argument that the 2nd Amendment only refers to militias and not to general private ownership.
But enough about that.
The question is, is the Constitution meaningless or not? Are we going to take it seriously, or are we not doing that anymore? We all know the answer to that question—we’re not doing that anymore. For example, just this week, the 4th Amendment was de facto repealed this week (again) by the Supreme Court:
“The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government — or that’s how it works in theory, anyway.
In practice, though, court decisions over several decades have created so many exceptions to this constitutional principle as to render it effectively meaningless in many real-world situations.
On Monday, the Supreme Court further weakened the Fourth Amendment by making it even easier for law enforcement to evade its requirement that stops be based on reasonable suspicion. The justices ruled 5 to 3 that a police officer’s illegal stop of a man on the street did not prevent evidence obtained from a search connected to that stop to be used against him.”
Now, it’s of course in the text of the Constitution itself that it can and should be changed as needed. Amendments are a good thing—as long as they protect freedoms, which they have, for the most part. OK, not really, but also—kind of. When courts feel like interpreting them that way. When they don’t, we might as well not bother having a Constitution. Why should we, if even the courts don’t follow what it clearly says?
The trend is clearly toward ignoring and/or misinterpreting the Constitution. Somehow, “unreasonable searches” and “probable cause” means that unreasonable searches are just peachy and improbable cause is just as good as that other kind. Y’know, whatever. The right of “the people” to “keep and bear arms” doesn’t really mean that the people have the right to keep and bear arms, apparently. Such thinking is not just a war on the Constitution, it’s a war on reality, where words are treated as meaning the opposite of their dictionary definitions.
So for all practical purposes, there really isn’t a Constitution in any real and lasting sense. There is only an oligarchy that wants cover—i.e., the “Constitution”–for its nefarious purposes, and sometimes the oligarchy calculates that said nefarious purposes are best served by allowing a bit of freedom for Joe Average. But that’s the exception to the rule, of course.