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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

While I'm On The Subject of The Constitution ...

and the United States Supreme Court, the "Supremes" finally clarified a question that's been in dispute for decades. Does the Second Amendment to the Constitution give private citizens the right to keep and bear arms? And the answer was ... (drum roll, please) ... YES! (I know that somewhere out there is a dyslexic who now plans to keep and arm bears, but that's a whole different issue). Although it was a close call, the 5-4 vote was a long-overdue victory for those of us who believe in the Constitution as it was written. After the revolutionary war, we didn't have much of a standing, professional army, hence: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The "Militia" were volunteer citizens who would bear arms for the public defense. Following the line of thought in my preceding post, once again the importance of this Amendment is emphasized by its being placed in the second position of the Bill of Rights - which are the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.

The Court, by majority opinion, ruled that the citizens of this country have the Constitutionally guaranteed right to own firearms, but stopped short of saying everybody has the right to "bear" them. One of the 19 definitions given for the word bear in the American Heritage Dictionary is "to carry from one place to another; transport". We are well aware that there are certain people who should not be allowed to even spell the word gun, much less own or carry one! Under what circumstances, and in what manner, should this 'right' be modified? I do not believe that convicted felons, or those persons adjudged mentally ill, or convicted of any crime of violence should be allowed to own or carry firearms. And that is, at present, the way the Federal law is written. I would add "gang members" to that list.

Federal requirements for registration of firearms ... I have mixed feelings about this one. I think the arms owning/bearing citizenry would feel more secure if the owner of firearms was registered, as opposed to registering by make, model, and serial number each weapon owned by the individual. The Feds could still require their $10 phone call, but only to verify that the applicant has been subjected to a background investigation by the FBI, and they could find nothing in that persons history that would disqualify him/her from purchasing an additional weapon. They do not need to know how many of what the law abiding citizen has in his/her possession. That would make a 'gun grab' by the government, or invaders, just too easy.

Those of us who hold a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon permit), issued by any state, should be permitted to carry concealed in all states, inasmuch as all CCW holders must have the same FBI background investigation, over and above the basic Federal authorization to purchase a firearm. As for variations from state-to-state for the qualifications (background investigation, training, and/or demonstration of proficiency, etc.) such requirements should remain within the purview of the Tenth Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") provision for "States' rights". However, the Feds have a way of leveraging states into submitting to their collective will - the threat of withholding Federal tax monies that have been earmarked for things like schools, highway improvements, and various "pork" projects.

Before it becomes a perfect system, there will have to be many concepts proffered, many definitions clarified, and precise procedures established to ensure the Constitutional application of the Second Amendment, while State governments ensure that the general population is protected from those who have, through personal actions, and adjudication, proven themselves to be less- than-good risks around firearms. There has to be a provision for the application of common sense for the common good involved.

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