Ok, here's another one:
Liberals believe the NRA is bad, because it supports certain parts of the constitution, while the ACLU is good, because it supports certain parts of the constitution.
I think this myth gets "liberal" and "libertarian" mixed up (a lot of liberals abhor the ACLU, but I tend to sympathize with it). At any rate, this gives me an opening to discuss the constitution and various interpretations. I'm a believer in the idea that the Founding Fathers (hereafter FF's, meaning Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, et al) intended the consitution to be a living document. They knew that it would have to change over time as the country grew and evolved. The history of the Supreme Court has been such that this need has been mostly obviated by a combination of changing interpretations of the law and by amendments.
So, how about the 2nd amendment, the right to keep and bear arms? It is very clear from their writings that the FF's intended for every American to be sufficiently well-armed so as to violently overthrow the government, if needed. That's the original purpose of the 2nd amendment, and if you want to be consistent today, I believe a correct literal reading of the 2nd amendment allows individual citizens to own military hardware (and yes, I'm familiar with the arguments on both sides about the history of the language, about "well-regulated militia", etc).
I don't know about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD's), though. Those were never really taken into consideration back then. Does this mean every American should have the right to own a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile? Yikes. Obviously, the constitution needs updating somehow for things like this.
I don't necessarily like the idea of judicial review being the main avenue of governmental evolution, but given the vast stupidity that the American public has repeatedly displayed throughout history, I accept the possibility that the "mob rule" alternative may be worse. More and more, I find myself believing that judges, who are the least susceptible public servants to the pressures of campaign finance, elections, etc., are probably among the best people to exercise power (even the kind of wingnut judges being nominated by Bushco these days). Not to say there aren't some hideously inept or corrupt judges, but the fraction is lower than among ordinary politicians.
In the end, then, I'm not too troubled by evolving interpretations of the 2nd amendment, and I'm not too troubled by increaing restrictions on handgun ownership (because some people feel the judicial review process isn't going fast enough to keep up with the evolution of firepower). It's not a make-or-break issue for me like it is for the "you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" crowd.
And, yes, I know those willing to exchange a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security deserve neither, etc. And by that argument, we should never impose any gun control laws at all or evolve beyond the original intent of the FF's. Whatever. I also believe that there are far more serious threats to our liberties (Patriot Act, anyone?) and that you need to choose your battles wisely (something the ACLU may need to do more).
As a side note, the only reason I don't really like the NRA is their tactics, which are known to include death threats to and/or actual physical, violent confrontations of elected representatives or anyone else in the public sphere promoting a gun control agenda. I've personally seen death threats used as a debate tactic three times in my life (once recently to me personally), and in every single case, the perpetrator of the threats was a hopeless, ignorant moron (or maybe a nice, decent upstanding citizen who is just really good at acting like a hopeless, ignorant moron when it comes to politics ... who knows?). I wouldn't broaden that to include the typical NRA member, though. I've personally known too many generally nice, normal, cool, level-headed people who are also NRA members. But I guess you have to have a bit of a paranoid streak to support an organization with such well-documented scare tactics.Posted by Observer at November 25, 2003 06:40 AM
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