Monday, October 12, 2015

5024 Gun control blather

Monday, October 12, 2015

I don't understand why there's so much talk about gun control at a federal level.  That's absolutely unconstitutional, but not for the reasons people think. 

When the second amendment was written, the states very much considered themselves individual entities.  You know, that "states' rights" thing?  They each had their own government.  They were jealous of any power another state might have, and that's why the District of Columbia was created.  They didn't want to be completely subservient to a federal government, and that's why many of them insisted on the first ten amendments before they would ratify the new constitution.  It was to be a union of states for purposes of defense, trade, major projects and the like, not a homogeneous country with counties or departments, like England or France or whatever.  That's why the name is The United States, not just Columbia or something.

The individual states figured they had a right to self-defense, defense from any internal or external threat, whether it be natives, another land-grabbing state, another country, or even the federal government, so they had a right to maintain their own defenders.  States had their own militias.  Look at the military companies fighting in the Civil War.  They fought under the union or confederate banner, but each company carried the name of their state.  They were members of their state militias.

So a state is constitutionally allowed to have and maintain their own "well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State".  That's what it says.  It's plain English and doesn't even need interpretation.  It refers to a state (not referring to the federal "state", but to a state as understood then) and its need for defense.  A state can define a militia in any way they want.  I don't understand why so many people are confused by the "well regulated militia" words in the amendment.  It simply means that states are allowed to arm themselves, the federal government can't mess with that, and the states are allowed to define who makes up that militia and how it's regulated.  The militia  can even consist of every person in the state capable of wielding a club, and at one time, in many states, it was.  And the state can regulate that militia any way its people decide.

That means if a state decides everyone in the state with a gun is a member of the militia, they can regulate it any way the people of that state decide.

So gun control is a states' issue, not a federal issue.  And the states have every right to regulate guns.

Now that's all well and good and pretty clear.  But after the Civil War, in a series of confusing and contradictory decisions, the SCOTUS redefined it as an individual right that even the states can't infringe upon, and that's when it got all messed up.

The Feds were pretty bummed by the whole Civil War thing.  The general consensus was that this "states' rights" stuff was a load of crap and had to be stomped a bit.  Maybe the states needed to be reminded who's boss.


I also hold an unpopular opinion on the Civil War.  

My opinion is that the southern states had every right to secede from the union.  The federal government was dead wrong to use force to stop them.  That doesn't mean I in any way agree with their reasons for secession, just that I believe they had every right to leave the club if they wanted to.  I don't believe the original intent of forming a union was to create a national homeowners' association where the only way to get out is to emigrate or die.  Do you suppose that if the northeastern states knew that once they joined the union, they could never ever get out, that they would have joined?  Nah.  We'd have a country called New England up there in that corner.  Those folks were fiercely independent.  They'd want the right to take their ball and go home if they had to, to maintain that independence. 

The states need some way to control the arrogance of the federal government.  Threat of secession is the most drastic option, but other means are built in.  Note that it's not the people who elect federal officials, it's the states.  The state legislatures actually control who gets elected to federal offices, and it was designed that way.  The Electoral College, for example, is very unpopular, but getting rid of it will weaken states' rights and give more power to the Federal government.  States are (or perhaps were) not even required to hold general elections for federal offices.  They just do it to gauge the preferences of their populace so they don't have a mob burning down the state capitol buildings.

You can take this all as blather, but I hope maybe someone will think about it.


Lisa :-] said...

I think you have a point about states being allowed to secede...I would actually LOVE to see Texas bow out of the union and try to become an independent country about now...

But when it came to the Civil War, I think it was as much about whether the Great Experiment of a Democratic Republic should be allowed to fail less than a hundred years in as anything else--see the Gettysburg address: "Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now, we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

So, though the fight to keep the South from seceding may have been at odds with some of the intent of the founding fathers, I think it was necessary to hold the pieces together and keep the experiment going for another century or two, if only to prove it was indeed a noble endeavor.

Becs said...

Free the slaves - yes, of course. But it's not such a bad idea to have a bunch of countries divided up from this one big one. It seems like the screwiest parts of government come when trying to govern such a very, very big country.

The Danes don't have these problems.

~~Silk said...

Well, here we are 150 years further on, and I think the north would be more than happy to kick the south out, and the south would be more than willing to leave if they thought they'd be allowed, so nothing was proven by making them stay.

Becs, that was kind of the point of states' rights - states were supposed to be like little countries, and the federal government was supposed to be just a federation for free trade and combination of services and so on for those little countries. Sort of like the EU on this continent.

Lisa :-] said...

Actually, I think that, though the south is ideologically vastly different from the north, the southern states understand that they have no economy upon which to base an independent nation. Especially now, since trade agreements of the past three decades have exported what manufacturing there WAS in the South--notably textiles, furniture manufacturing,etc.--and exported those factories and jobs to the Far East. Eight of the ten poorest states in the nation are located in the South. So they may WANT to be separate from the North, but they know it's economically and strategically (where are they going to get the funds to create their own military?) unfeasible. It's much easier for the South to remain a boil on the butt of the rest of the country.