In Wake of Charleston, Amending the Constitution May be Our Only Hope

us_const_guns

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

You may have noticed the 2nd Amendment has been slightly, well, amended above. The new verbiage is the suggestion of retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in his 2014 book “Six Amendments.” Stevens points out that the 2nd Amendment was written in 1791 so that states could protect themselves against over-reaching governments at home and abroad. The British had effected an arms ban on the colonists not 20 years before (the 1774 import ban on firearms and gunpowder; the 1774-75 confiscations of firearms and gunpowder; and the use of violence to effectuate the confiscations). Fear that the US federal government could do something similar influences the amendment’s interpretation to this day.

But this means that the 2nd Amendment is now being used for quite the opposite purpose of its original writing, imposing foreign (federal) government on states rights. Special interests are using the current interpretation of the 2nd amendment to force reckless public safety policy on the states.

This is actually a very recent change in the reading of the 2nd Amendment by the Supreme Court. Before 2008, the courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. But in 2008, the court found Washington DC’s limiting of handgun ownership to be a violation of the 2nd amendment and in 2010 in McDonald vs the City of Chicago it extended this reading to the states themselves.

Google for gun from “1791”, the year the 2nd amendment was implemented, and this is what you get.

Understatement: we live in a different world than we did in 1791. There are more of us living closer together in a more culturally mixed, substance influenced, technology empowered sort of way than ever before. In order to adapt to the security threats of today, states need to able to regulate guns. But lobbyists like the NRA are using money to limit local powers.

The most recent imposition of 2nd Amendment rollback challenges is in none other than CA, where the “may-issue” policy of permitting people to have handguns in their home could be forced back to “shall-issue.” In other words, CA’s policy of requiring a permit for a handgun could be annulled in favor of just handing them out for self-defense – no permit necessary. Keep in mind that 88% of all deaths come from handguns.

A three person panel of the 9th District Court already voted the permitting of hand-guns in the house to be in violation of the 2nd amendment. Now, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris has succeeded in getting the ruling reviewed in an “en-banc” seating of at least eleven 9th District Judges. You can follow this hot case here: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/content/view.php?pk_id=0000000722

Gun Policy in California

California is one of the most restrictive states in the union when it comes to gun control. We require safety certificates (obtained by passing a written test) to purchase a handgun. This safety requirement was extended to long guns, namely rifles and shotguns, the more solidly recreational of the gun family, on Jan 1st, 2014.

Local jurisdictions like San Francisco have limits on magazine size. Since guns themselves can’t be limited these laws target the ammo. New handguns in the state even have to have micro-bullet imprinting so that shells can be traced back to the gun that fired them.

Thanks to all of this, CA has one of the lowest death rates in the country from guns.


Correspondingly, in states where gun laws are lax, like Louisiana and Nevada, death rates have gone up.

And still we haven’t been able to stop horrible tragedies like killing of six UC Santa Barbara students and the injuring of fourteen more on May 23, 2014 by Elliot Rogers. Rogers exclusively used handguns in his attack and was able to purchase the guns despite a history of mental illness and hateful postings online.

California has yet to pass legislation regarding mental health checks. However, on September 30, 2014 the state did pass a law which will allow a person to ask a judge to have guns seized from a family member who they feel is a danger to themselves or to others. The gun owner will have an opportunity to contest the seizure. Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, oppose the legislation, citing that the rights of regular gun owners may be put in jeopardy due to a misunderstanding. The law will go into effect in 2016. Clearly, more policy experimentation will be necessary in both blue states, and red before we resolve this issue.

I acknowledge my differences with red state citizens and if you want to legalize more guns, by all means do so. I hope it leads to a safer secure community for you. If it leads to more tragedy and you don’t have the insight to change your ways, God have mercy on you. But don’t you dare turn around and DENY OUR RIGHT to make our own gun laws in our own state. “Don’t tread on me” is right, and we got plenty of rattlesnakes in CA.

A New Federal Tradition?

What role then, does the 2nd Amendment play in our federal tradition? Our tradition as a country? Let’s make it something we can be proud of. A tradition of keeping a well regulated militia. Here’s a proposed rewording:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed and participation in the state militia is required of all citizens from ages 18-20.”

 

Revise the 2nd Amendment to include a specific militia clause and encourage service

Let’s update the 2nd Amendment to explicitly refer to militias, ensuring states have the right to create their own gun policies while also creating a federal tradition of service and education.



 

Think about the power of this heritage, millions of people who responsibly know how to keep and use guns. It will make our populace more educated about firearms and could reduce the amount we spend on keeping a standing military, because the population is ready to repel an invader at all times. That sounds like something the founding fathers would approve of.

Indeed, the Swiss have a rich tradition of gun ownership and service in the state militia and they have one of the lowest deaths by gun in the world. Not to mention, one of the longest histories of independence from larger powers.

Best about this plan, putting people to work actually might do more than anything to prevent the true cause of gun usage, lack of economic opportunity. In the graph below, “Poverty Level” and “Working Class” are second only to our own partisanship. The correlation of gun deaths to “McCain Vote Share” and “Obama Vote Share” demonstrate that this truly is a red and blue issue.

So what about a purple amendment? One that incorporates service to our country, education to our youth, and gives basic safety training to everyone in the population? That is an amendment I can salute for. Instead of spending money on foreign wars, we can spend money at home, in technology, fitness, medicine, energy use and more. Afterall, there’s no limit to the projects the new “youth force” could get up to.

It’s time Blue and Red states came to a truce. We must start by recognizing our common Americansim – “Don’t tread on me.” From there, we can decide how we want to build a common heritage, one that moves past violence and conflict, into a brighter future.

Pictured, a Peace Corps volunteer. The US Youth Force could incorporate practical training in agriculture, biology and sustainable energy as well as self-defense skills and gun usage, and conflict resolution.

 

Revise the 2nd Amendment to include a specific militia clause and encourage service

Let’s update the 2nd Amendment to explicitly refer to militias, ensuring states have the right to create their own gun policies while also creating a federal tradition of service and education.



Manu Koenig  Entrepreneur and Politician. cofounder CEO Civinomics, board member Digital NEST, Judge Start-up Chile, stanford BA ’07, California native.

 

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http://www.livescience.com/26485-second-amendment.html

http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Isla_Vista_killings

 

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