Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Second Amendment for Dummies

With all the hullabaloo lately about guns, and the Second Amendment being argued back and forth, I find myself wondering what part of “shall not be infringed” is so difficult to understand. With that in mind, I decided to break it down piece by piece so that we might, some day, all be on the same page.

Ignoring, for the moment, the whole argument about the grammatical usage of the word “shall” (about which even English professors can’t come to consensus), we are still left with the understanding that this right is not to be infringed.
Infringe means encroach or limit or undermine. This right is not to be limited in any way.

Who may not infringe upon this right? The Second Amendment does not say “Congress shall make no law...”, or in any way imply that the states have authority to make laws regarding gun ownership. It is quite clearly a blanket statement: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Period. By anyone.

It does say “a well regulated militia”, but that in no way authorizes the states to regulate gun ownership. It says as plain as day that it’s the militia that are to be regulated, not guns.

This right is extended to whom? The people. In every other instance of the word “people” being used (It’s also used in Amendments 1, 4, 9, and 10), it is fervently argued as meaning the people. Kind of quaint, I know. But still...

For the Second Amendment, however, some would inconsistently maintain that “people” actually means militia. In a way, they’re accidentally correct, being as the militia are the people. But they would have us believe that militia means army, or soldiers, or the police - despite the fact that elsewhere in the Bill of Rights it specifically mentions soldiers and land and sea forces, and goes on to distinguish them from the militia.

This right is constitutionally guaranteed for what purpose? The security of a free state. The alternative to a free state is a state where the people are subject to a tyrant. So, the writers wanted to be sure that “the people” had a means to defend themselves, their neighbors, and their state from tyranny. It has nothing to do with hunting or self-defense. 

This right includes which arms? Ah! Here the writers were very specific. It includes “arms”. All of them. We already know that the reason for the Second Amendment is to defend against a tyrant (who always has the military at his command). So, with what are we to be “allowed” to battle the military? A six shot revolver? That doesn’t seem very realistic. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The American Christian's Challenge

As Christians in America, we have a unique challenge with regard to the command in Romans to “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” We live in a culture where the people in political office were selected by us.

Until Saul, God’s people lived in a theocracy. Saul, David, and Solomon were human kings chosen by God. Since then God has stepped out of the direct choosing, apparently opting instead to turn all things to His good, regardless of how a given leader was put in place. 

Unless I’m mistaken, the only form(s) of human government mentioned at length in the Bible were monarchs (and perhaps judges and prophets, depending on how one defines government).

Despite the fact that, by the time of Jesus, democracy was well established in Greece, the Bible makes no mention of this as a form of government sanctioned by God.

In America, democracy takes the form of a democratic republic - representatives are chosen by the people to hold the various offices. This is true of legislators and of the president. So, the president is not the authority in the traditional sense. He is selected to represent the people by the people, themselves.

Add to this the fact that there are three branches of government, which are intended through checks and balances to be of equal power, then it can not be argued that the president is the leader or ruler.

As Lincoln pointed out, we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It’s difficult to imagine a more stark contrast to a monarchy, where the royal “we” is frequently invoked and it’s understood that the king or queen IS the country - basically relegating the populace to vassals of the monarch (which is, in fact, the legal situation).

So, if we are (Note: not “if we have”; but “if we are”) a government of the people, by the people, and for the people . . . if the people who hold political office (as public servants, by the way) are there to represent the people . . . even assuming we all agree on what it means to be subject to the governing authorities . . . then the question becomes, “To whom do we owe this subjection?”