The right to bear arms is one of the more curious provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Why, in heaven’s name, should people in a civilized country have such a right?
I’m no historian, but the impression I have is that the reason the Founders put the article in the constitution in the first place is as a check on governmental authority. If the Brits couldn’t have restricted our “right” to bear arms, then the American Revolution would have been over much more quickly, and “justice” would have been done. So basically the “right to bear arms” is there so people can more easily hijack our constitutional democracy by means of brute force.
Let’s think how this would work in practice. Let’s suppose Bill Gates continued to turn the screws on his Microsoft Monopoly. Eventually he becomes richer than the U.S. government itself, and so he uses his “right to bear arms” to build his own personal army, in the unlikely event the government would try to curb his monopoly power. Stupidly, the American people elect a trustbuster to tame Gates’ wrath, but Gates exercises his “constitutional right” to overthrow the goverment so his monopoly can continue. Good thing we have a “right to bear arms.”
Of course, that type of arms-bearing has long since passed the wayside. Americans can’t own the same rifles our troops carry, let alone their tanks, bombers, and chemical weapons. Now the “right to bear arms” is all about whether it’s okay to carry a concealed weapon, or buy a sawed-off shotgun without passing some sort of security clearance. Since some drunk carrying a pistol isn’t exactly going to intimidate the U.S. military, why exactly do we want these rights?
It basically comes down to the same thing, doesn’t it? We want to be bullies. We want to walk into a bar and know no one’s going to mess with us. We want to scare “intruders” away from our homes. Interesting, isn’t it? Most of the rest of the Constitution does nothing of the sort — it’s designed to keep the bullies in check. Freedom of speech says the bullies can’t tell you what to say; freedom of religion says they can’t tell you what to think. None of these things makes us as individuals more “secure,” but it makes the nation much more secure, because new ideas always get heard, and innovative ways to solve problems can be found more easily.
The right to bear arms challenges those rights — it’s about might above right. Our nation is stronger when we band together to protect the liberties in the Constitution, not when we allow gun-toting thugs to repress them. Call me a reactionary, but I say the right to bear arms has no place in the U.S. Constitution. This is not to say Americans shouldn’t be allowed to own guns: I think they should. They just shouldn’t have a constitutional right to own them. By elevating a dangerous pastime to a constitutional right, we disproportionately prefer the bully over the team player. And that’s not right.