Seconds, Anyone?

Steve Comus

July 1, 2017 — Does “Second Amendment” equate to “second class?”

Why is it that over the years the U.S. Supreme Court has been reticent to delve into gun rights? This question certainly didn’t get answered recently when the high court declined to hear two types of gun ownership/use cases.

There is something about the word “second.” The term “second fiddle” comes to mind, as does the title of Bill Jordan’s book “No Second Place Winner.” What about the “second” amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Seems as though the Second Amendment gets the stepchild treatment, even when it comes to the Supreme Court. The high court historically has made a habit out of not wanting to tangle with the right to keep and bear arms – one way or another, and hence has tended to ignore or avoid it more than one might logically expect.

That’s understandable, because the Second is the most revolutionary of all of the first 10 amendments (Bill of Rights). And why not? Those who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were revolutionaries. Yet the high court, by definition, embodies the concept of governmentally established order. Hmmm.

These kinds of thoughts came to mind recently when the Supremes declined to hear a couple of kinds of cases involving 2A. One (Binderup v. the U.S. Attorney General) involved protection of 2A rights following non-serious misdemeanor convictions and the other (Peruta v. California) involved restrictions on the right to carry guns in public.

Interestingly, the two cases were opposite in the respect that the Binderup case could be considered a pro-2A matter, while the Peruta case could be considered an anti-2A matter. Yet the high court decided to hear neither.

There is difficulty involved in what could be considered a very convoluted reality of 2A – a convolution that always baffles the antis because they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to guns.

The militia wording of the amendment indicates that the country needs to have an armed populace to help assure that it will always have the makings of an effective militia whenever the country is threatened. That’s simple enough.

But there also is the supposition that 2A is a form of insurance against tyranny. Makes sense. But also complicates matters for courts when they address the issue.

There ends up being two disparate concepts at play simultaneously – one to defend the government and one that defends the people against the government should things come to that.

There are fascinating dynamics here in that humans tend to be a puzzling bunch when dealing with one another. As much as some imagine that personal armament opens the door to unlawful attacks on government, history shows that reality is exactly the opposite. There have been no successful armed coups in the country since it began. ‘Nuff said.

It is much the same dynamic as is seen whenever “peace through strength” is discussed. Armed conflict is avoided when there are enough arms to annihilate opponents, which results in no armed conflict in the first place.

Similarly, history shows that where citizens are well armed and carry their arms with them, crime goes down, but where the citizenry is disarmed, crime blossoms. Antis may find these sorts of things counter-intuitive, but right thinking people understand them to be self-evident truths.

And that doesn’t begin to get into the whole debate over self-defense when it comes to criminals, etc.

Often courts can look elsewhere in the world to gain insight into matters before them. But since there never has been a 2A anywhere else in the world, ever before, there can be no such consideration.

The Second Amendment is uniquely American. These days that alone is enough to confound many in the legal system. Often it seems that those in power have lost track of what this country is really all about.

Yet there should be no fear that a properly populated Supreme Court will, in time, make the right decisions when they finally do decide to consider 2A matters.

It is a pretty safe bet that whenever the high court does tackle the question regarding the carrying of guns in public, it will come down on the side of the Constitution. This will be even more evident when one or two more right thinking jurists replace some of the eight-balls who are currently on the high court.

But for me, the really important outcome of recent changes on the high court is that the higher degree of certainty there is that the justices will make Constitutionally correct decisions, the higher the degree of certainty there is that lawmakers at all levels will pass Constitutionally proper laws in the first place.

The opposite, of course, has been true when the high court’s probable adherence to the Constitution has been in question.

No doubt, the questions raised in the two kinds of cases that the high court recently ignored will be addressed in the future. And, so long as the justices are mindful of the Constitution, all will be well. In the meantime, there are many other pressing things to think about – like holding legislators to task when they try to come up with unconstitutional laws in the first place. Face it: if no unconstitutional law were ever to be passed, there would be no need for a court to declare that it violates the Constitution. Pretty simple, really.

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