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Monday
Feb182013

What's Wrong With the Second Amendment

In the United States, we tend to treat the Constitution as holy scripture. Something written long ago that we dare not change a word of, lest we burn in hell. This is the reason, and maybe the only reason, our nation has such lax gun laws. It is hard to imagine if we were talking about anything else -- cars, alcohol, illegal drugs, the internet, immigration, or even housing -- that anyone would be so adamant in his resistance to change as gun rights activists are.

Maybe the right of self defense is a basic human right. So is the right to health. Yet no one is arguing for a constitutional amendment to guarantee health care access, or even to prevent factories from pouring poison into our water. We accept that these issues of public safety can be managed through ordinary statutes and regulations, and we are fine with that. Just not when it comes to guns.

From a practical standpoint, the revolutionary basis for gun ownership is moot. Back during post-Revolutionary America, it was possible for a group of people, unfairly treated, to overthrow a government and create a new one.

But in today's America, such thinking makes no sense. Most people in the eighteenth century depended on the government for a limited number of things: currency, property rights, maybe a rare appearance in court, the local sheriff. And that was about it. Back then, when your national infrastructure consisted of a system of dirt roads and wooden bridges and a mail system powered by horses, overthrowing the government was possible.

Someone explain how we could overthrow our government today. We would lose Wall Street, the banking system, currency, the highway system, the national parks, national defense, policing, fire departments, most schools and universities, the list goes on and on. No group of usurpers, no matter how brilliant and enlightened, could possibly take up everything the U.S. government does and keep it running. We lose our government, we lose our civilization.

So we, and by that I mean certain people around here, need to find a drop of common sense and admit the truth. In the 21st century, no nation of people can throw off government rule without suffering a catastrophic setback. Russia, to take one example, didn't exactly emerge gloriously from the old USSR. In some ways it is a worse place to live now, and it wasn't so great back in the Soviet days. Look at governments in Africa, Central and South America if you want to see a blueprint for a post-revolution government. Modern life demands too many things for a government to cease to exist, even for a short time.

When the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution, they could not have foreseen that modern life would become so complex that government would become an integral part of it, like a nervous system is to the body, running through every aspect of it, keeping everything cohesive. But that is what the government is today.

There will be no revolution. So let's get over that ridiculous talk, and stop using defense against the government as an excuse for lax gun laws. We are a democracy; we vote. Let's concentrate on voting our way out of the mess we are in instead of shooting our way out.

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