Monday, March 12, 2007

A Militia by Any Other Name...

When pondering some of the hot button political issues of today -- gay marriage, abortion, voting, etc. -- I tend to side with those in favor of individual rights. It just seems logical, human, and American to allow for as many individual freedoms as possible; the burden should fall on the side of those who argue to limit our rights not those defending them. Why shouldn't two people in love be afforded the benefits of a legal and state recognized marriage? Why shouldn't it be left up to the pregnant woman to choose an abortion? Where I become a hypocrite, however, is with gun control. While one could (and many do) frame the pro-choice debate by claiming an abortion is tantamount to murder, I do not see this as grounds to make abortions illegal. Yet, I do see guns as an unequivocally threat to public safety. The Second Amendment reads:

"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."

At first, the economically phrased Amendment seems clear -- if you're not a well regulated Militia, then you don't necessarily have the right to bear arms. Yet, last Friday, a federal appeals court voted 2-1 in favor of the individual's right to bear arms, claiming, "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia." My reaction: anger, betrayal, disollution, and then I feel into a Vinny Barberinoesque stupor, saying outloud with hands to my face, "I'm so confused."

It appears as though this is, as The Second Amendment Foundation called it "a landmark for liberty", or a notch on the bullet carrying belts of America's gunlovers and their disconcertingly strong lobby and its figurehead, the NRA. Upon searching further, I did find some interesting information on the subject of gun rights and the founding fathers' plan (see links at bottom of post). Though I feel that there can be an positive and fruitful compromise here. I don't necessarily have a problem with individual rights allowing for someone to own a gun, but I fail to see why gun control is the negation of these rights. Why does someone feel that they must have a gun immediately and why the hell don't we all agree that if you do have this pressing need, then you probably shouldn't have a gun? So, please read the links below and figure it out for yourself, because the more I think about this, the more I feel the urgent need to buy a gun, and then I'd just be more of a hypocrite.

Links to read: The Debate Team (a good video with quotes that Good Will Hunting would have cited if caught with an unregistered weapon), Stuck on Stupid, and a good overview of what people are saying from Michelle Malkin.


Andy D said...

I fall on the other side of both of your arguments; I believe the 2nd amendment protects our right to own guns, and I believe abortion should be illegal. I heard many of the arguments made by the majority opinion on Friday and believe they are correct. In the words of the old phrase, “if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” I believe we have rights until those rights infringe on others rights. Abortion is a perfect example. If a woman has the right to decide what affects her body, why doesn’t the unborn baby get the same right?

CapeTownDissentator said...

Certainly these are issues that are hardly resolved by professional lawmakers and seldom by bloggers. I do agree with the old phrase about outlaws and guns, just as if we outlawed cigarettes we would create a black market for them. Regarding the rights or lack of rights for an unborn baby, your framing of the argument forces me to appear like an ogre and say that an unborn baby doesn't have rights, but an unborn baby doesn't necessarily have the rights of a living U.S. citizen. Biologically, it isn't even a self-sustaining life, entirely dependent on the mother. Taking away a woman's right to choose is not, in my opinion, infringing on the something without rights.
I didn't mean to be ambiguous concerning my views on ind. rights. I honestly do not want to ban guns or outlaw them. In terms of the ease with which one can acquire a gun, however, and the fire power of available weapons, the 2nd Amendment does not seem to be supportive in the case of a automatic weapon.
While the 2nd Amendment, I agree, should and does allow for an individual to bear arms, there remains no textual citation in the Constitution that affords an unborn child any rights.

Andy D said...

This is an arguement I have actually changed my opinion on 180 degrees. Before my wife got pregnant, I would have said almost word for word what you said. However, seeing pictures and hearing my daughters heart changed my mind. I truely believe she was a living individual before she was born. Becuase of that, I believe abortion is simply wrong.

CapeTownDissentator said...


CapeTownDissentator said...

Your change in view is certainly justifiable and, as I am not a father, I cannot argue with the sentiment. If you do not agree with abortion in your own life, I am curious to know if this would make you vote against it and decide this for others.
There are cases, such as the ones I see here in South Africa, where the child is born into a family where both parents are dying of AIDS, where jobs are scarce and few can afford proper care and schooling. There are too many cases like this in the states to just outlaw abortion, and because of this I could never agree with the pro-life sentiment. What I mean to say is that we should vote in our own self-interests but with compassion for those who do not feel the same or have the same economic and/or community support.