Thursday, December 07, 2006

The real meaning of the 2nd Amendment

The town council of Cherry, Pennsylvania is considering enacting a law asking all of its residents to own guns and train themselves on how to use them.

This, of course, was the original idea behind the 2nd Amendment. The United States was designed to be a society in which "the militia" was not a governmental unit such as a National Guard but rather one in which well-armed and well-trained citizens could protect themselves not only from violent criminals and foreign invaders but also from the tyranny from their own federal officials--a society in which the federals would be prohibited from interfering with this critically important prerequisite to a free society.

Of course, the gun-control crowd would argue that the 2nd Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, is an outmoded relic of the horse-and-buggy era.

Meanwhile, given that today is the anniversary date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we would be remiss if we didn't remember that during World War II the U.S. government rounded up thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent and place them in U.S. concentration camps for the duration of the war.

Why is this important today? Because that power to round up citizens and put them in concentration camps--say, Americans of Muslim faith--still exists. The Supreme Court decision (Korematsu v. U.S.) that upheld the power of the federals to do this, while largely condemnded in legal circles, has never been overturned. It is still the law of the land.

Don't forget also the federal position today, as ludicrous as it is, is this: we are at war, just as Americans were at war after Pearl Harbor--only this time against "the terrorists" rather than the Japanese--and this war will last indefinitely.

Don't forget also the Padilla doctrine, in which the federals now wield the power--today--to send military units across the land, arresting people off the streets as "enemy combatants", torture them, and hold them in isolation for years incommunicado and denied trial and due process of law.

Now, add the Padilla power to the Korematsu power and you might start to get a sense of how different and dangerous a society in which we now live, as compared to our American ancestors, who never would have permitted an omnipotent federal government with Soviet-like powers over the citizenry.

While the people of Cherry, Pennsylvania, might be thinking about protecting themselves from burglars by asking everyone to arm themselves, we should never forget the true underlining purpose of the 2nd Amendment: its purpose is not to enable Americans to shoot deer or burglars, but instead to ensure that U.S. officials think twice about becoming oppressive here at home.

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