Friday, September 7, 2012

Second Ammendment 2.0

As someone who grew up overseas, the notion that gun ownership is a right extended to the American people in order to keep the government in check horrifies me - at least in these modern times. However in the same breath that I express my horror, I can freely admit that such attitudes towards gun ownership are in all likelihood exactly the same notions that the founding fathers had in mind when they drafted the amendments. I suppose I can even agree that gun ownership among the general population as a deterrent against abuse of power by the government was a reasonable approach. 

I humbly posit that a lot has changed since then.

Perhaps the most glaringly obvious and insurmountable difference is the imbalance of fire-power we see today. Go ahead, start your uprising against unwanted taxation and see how long your high-capacity ammo magazines, semi-automatic rifles and youtube combat training stands up against an assault by the masterfully trained career warriors that will roll up in acronym laden black armoured trucks, equipped with years of experience and the best armour and weaponry money can buy. And if somehow you are still free after that experience, then please, tell me how you plan to take on the most expensive fighting force ever devised by man. 

You see in these modern times we have a whole myriad of terms for this sort of Second Amendment rights use. We typically use terms such as hostage crises, siege, rampage and so on. Designating gun ownership as a legitimate and protected means of ensuring safety from the government gives legitimacy to anyone who disagrees with the government and wants to do something violent about it. If the right to bear arms is necessary for the security of a free State, than anyone who believes that their free State is being threatened and starts to fight for his free country is technically acting in accordance with the Bill of Rights.

Of course you might say that lone players represent the fringe and not the well regulated militia envisioned by the Founding Fathers. However at what point does a violent fringe group with a vendetta against the Government become a well regulated militia with a noble mission to protect freedom? The ambiguity sounds messy.

It is this ambiguity that creates the environment that brought us the likes of Randy Weaver, David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh and all those other historical boogiemen. They all lie somewhere along the continuum between lone, murderous madman and member of a legitimate militia uprising against the government.

And lets face it, in the history of this country not one person who has ever taken up arms against the government has been successful. Not one has been labeled by mainstream society as anything other than a psychopath. This, however, is the eventual result of operating politically by 18th century moral standards pertaining to might and violence.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are in impressive documents, but they are by no means comprehensive. They had the limited scope inherent to their time and therefore we can expect them to have considerable deficiencies when brought up against 21st century circumstances and problems.

Nor could they have possibly anticipated the 21st century's resources and solutions.

Take the Internet, for instance. It has only existed prominently for the past 20 years or so and in just that historical blink of an eye, it has managed to become ubiquitous and influential beyond even the wildest notions of any past futurist. No longer can secrets be easily kept and no longer can an individual be so easily silenced. If you are looking for a means for you, as an individual, to best affect the inertia of your government - to preserve your free State - then look no further. Think of the case studies of the Arab Spring. Think of all the Youtube videos uploaded that have caused public outrage and then change. Think of all the words written by ordinary citizens and have then gone on to find an audience of National scale.

Yes, these instances are rare and you are not guaranteed to be effective, but it does happen - and on a whole it is quite common. Much more common than successful armed uprisings, at least. So why is the NRA so powerful? Why do we still care so much about the Second Amendment. Why do we not see with clarity what our most valuable asset really is. At the very least the unprecedented equality of influence made possible by the Internet should be guarded with equal vehemence, hopefully more.

Perhaps, then, a superior wording would be:

Unobstructed access to the market of ideas, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and freely use the Internet, shall not be infringed.


  1. Keeping and freely using the internet is covered by the First Amendment, hopefully. As for the 2nd, the wording makes it clear that it was mainly to apply to the times, as keeping a militia was very much on the founders' minds. They could not have anticipated public availability of assault weapons. All of it turns on the "militia" clause, and the interpretation of the amendment was just waiting for the far right wingnut ideologues on the Supreme Court to interpret this as meaning we could keep any old gun we want. Oddly, Scalia is the justice who keeps carping on literal construction. Ironically, the only "malitias" we have today are groups who protest, e.g. having to pay taxes, folks who have been known to fight the government by, e.g. filing false liens against government property, lands and improvements on them that they only "own" vicariously, in the sense that their takes "built them" (you should pardon the current phraseology growing from an Obama speech taken out of context). Fair is fair they might say, since the government puts liens on their own homes. A more reasonable interpretation of the Amendment is that we should only those guns necessary for sports, including hunting.

  2. First amendment rights do not guarantee access to Internet services, which are typically provided by private companies and as such are allowed to decide what access to grant.

    Of course a certain amount of restriction on the part of these private companies is acceptable, but now there are little or no guidelines to determine what sorts of limitations are acceptable.

    Can Google make politically motivated modifications to its search engine code? Can ATT throttle bandwidth for particular customers based on the sort of information they are consuming? Can Facebook remove certain articles being forwarded on their service.

    Truth is that they can, and furthermore they can be pressured to do so. Take the case of Wikileaks - probably the greatest most salient litmus test for the sort of free speech issues I am talking about.

    All it took was a call from Senator Joe Leiberman's office to get Amazon to cut off access to the controversial website.

    This was later followed by denied access on the part of numerous financial institutions (Visa, Paypal and Mastercard, to name a few) - measures that essentially shut the website down and were clearly influenced by political pressure.

    If we have so thoroughly failed this test. This test of how to handle what is probably the most drastic and innovative use of the Internet's power for the improvement of government accountability - then something needs to be done about it. I guess an amendment would be ideal, but legal precedent or an enacted law would be acceptable as well. I only limited my argument to amendments in order to give a reasonable alternative to those who insist on government accountability through weapon ownership.

    It is true that Militias are on a whole benign and only a few lone extremists ever take up arms. That does not change my hope that these movements would become stronger activists for freedom of speech and leave all of this paramilitary training and gun stockpiling behind.

    I have no problem with firearm sportsmanship; there is a clear difference between guns designed for such ends and guns designed for combat.