By Jerry Mooney
Although there were many positive responses to my post yesterday, some found my idea to be less than satisfactory, calling me a "moron" and suggesting that I should be "hung by (my) short hairs". And although I don't believe that all gun enthusiasts are vitriolic and unreasonable, there is a definite loud, bully faction of intransigent orthodox gun rights advocates that hated the idea of bringing capitalism into the mix as a way of checking gun ownership and responsibilities.
I want to explore rights and responsibilities, for it seems that only the Second Amendment orthodox don't accept that rights exist within the realm of society and come with responsibility.
Let's take the First Amendment as our example: the First Amendment protects our rights of speech and to peacefully assemble. But it is well known, if you use, for example, hate speech, your right to do so is protected, but you might end up with a bloody nose. Or, it might be suggested that I be "hung by my shorthairs". Although it is my right to say what I want, I would be foolish to think that I can say anything without consequences. Similarly, speech is not protected if it directly insights danger. For example, yelling fire in a crowded theater has been rejected as protected speech as it would unnecessarily cause chaos and damage. The instigator would also become liable.
Also, with our right to peacefully assemble, it is not our right to do so at the disruption of normal societal activity. For example, if we assemble in the street or on a train track, we would be removed and charged with hindering transportation. Our right to assemble is still in tact but it requires certain adherence to the greater societal good.
Unfortunately, the extreme wing of the Second Amendment advocates consider any responsibilities that are associated with the right to bear arms to also be an infringement. In no other arena of constitutional consideration is there such orthodoxy. Forget that the first part of the Second Amendment says the right to form a WELL REGULATED MILITIA. Forget that all other rights, including the right to vote, the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the First Amendment all exist with legal standards: age, distribution, consequences etc. The orthodox Second Amendment advocate interprets the second half of the amendment only and views it with carte blanche.
This is not quality legal ground or a genuine interpretation of the meaning or intent behind the amendment (which when written was referring to single shot muskets that take a minute to reload and not weapons that can fire a more than a round a second). The reason it's not a solid legal argument, is that the first part of the Second Amendment states that A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state...a well regulated militia is significantly different than anybody with blood-lust can get a gun. Secondly, it says right in the Second Amendment that the militia (however loosely defined) should be "well regulated". This means laws and oversight. This doesn't mean building a doomsday arsenal in your basement with impunity. This doesn't mean you get to own, have and use your guns ad nauseam without any consequence or societal checks on your libelous activity.
It is only through superior propaganda and lobbyist organization that this interpretation of the Second Amendment has become an orthodox reading by so many. I stand by my suggestion of introducing the insurance lobby into the fight in order to have a Goliath create the standards of liability and accountability in our current gun anarchy. And for this, you're welcome to wish to hang me by my short hairs, I do understand that my words will offend some and I accept my responsibilities with my right to express myself. I also proudly accept that having the dialogue is the first step in hammering out the potential flaws in the idea as well as bringing new ideas forth. I'm not as married to my idea as I am the hope that we can forge a better society.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company that made him a millionaire before the age of 40. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter@JerryMooney