Last Saturday morning I made the trek to the parks in downtown Norwich for the “March for our Lives”, and there were scores of people there, some on the right facing Lady Justice; others were on the left with their backs to the court house.
Over the years I’ve seen protests and demonstrations against wars, hazardous waste dumps, fracking, the naming of high schools and other social discrimination. But I’ve never seen a protest with a goal to take away people’s constitutional rights.
By the luck of an available parking space, I began on the east side of Broad Street among the pro-firearms group of people. I tactfully spurned the offer of free coffee and a donut to avoid the appearance I could have my opinion bought for the price of a maple glazed.
Once completed with the east side conversations, I made my way to the west side of Broad Street to chit-chat with those who stood together in favor of more controls over individually owned firearms. I politely declined the offer to carry a sign. Discussions were often interrupted by the noise of blaring car horns sounding off in favor of one side or the other.
Neither group of people wanted to see anymore mass shootings. Nor did either side want their children going to school in fear because of an active shooter drill giving them nightmares. Another common theme heard on both sides of Route 12 was “the Second Amendment” which was said with a tone of reverence on one side and disdain on the other side of the street.
One of the arguments I heard on the west sidewalk was the 2nd Amendment needs revision because it was written at a time before indoor plumbing and the authors could never have envisioned semi-automatic, magazine fed firearms.
For the record, here’s the Second Amendment; “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 people of the United States have tinkered with the Constitution in the past with disastrous results. The 18th Amendment to prohibit the manufacture of alcohol caused the biggest crime wave America has ever witnessed with bootlegging, murder and smuggling sweeping the country at a pace faster than our current opioid epidemic.
The pro-gun people gathered Saturday on the east side of Broad Street have good reason to worry about the camel’s nose poking under the tent flap. Currently in Oregon there is an initiative to ban semi-automatic weapons in that state. With enough signatures Oregon Petition #43 will be on the ballot in November.
And more startling for firearms aficionados is the recent declaration by retired Supreme Court Justice J.P. Stevens calling the 2nd Amendment “a relic of the 18th century” that should be wholly repealed. The Honorable Justice Stevens was not quoted on his opinion of another 18th century relic, the printing press, protected by the 1st Amendment.
With great foresight, the authors of our Constitution made it very difficult to make willy-nilly changes to the document. In order to modify the 2nd Amendment will require the near impossible two-thirds agreement of the members of the US Senate and Congress.
More arduous is the requirement for three-quarters of the States of the Union to agree the 2nd Amendment needs adjustments. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that means 38 states have to agree, or in others words, any group of 12 states could stop the movement. That makes those fly over states accused of “clinging to their guns and bibles” quite powerful.
Whether you like it or not, our Constitution’s authors were revolutionary people in their thoughts and deeds; the King called them mutineers.
Just prior to putting their quills to paper writing our Constitution, they had forcefully gained independence from an oppressive form of government; a tyrannical government that failed to represent its citizens which also possessed the largest army in the world. Our forefathers did this from scratch without a standing army.
Their only course to achieve independence and freedom was a fledgling citizen-led force that was able to arm itself. That most certainly was in their thoughts and deliberations when composing all the amendments to our Constitution.
If you don’t think so, read the Third Amendment and tell me what you think was on the author’s minds at the time. No one wants to use the force of a firearm to protect their safety or freedom, but that right is so enshrined if needed.