QUARTERING TROOPS AND THE 2nd AMENDMENT: UP TO DATE STUFF.
Many years ago, when young enough not to know better I was impressed by a politician who said something like “The constitution is the most perfect document in the world.” My reaction was in the line of, “Wow!”
Well, the aging process has changed my cynicism quotient from 1:1000 to 1000:1; that naive youngster was happy with such certitudes while the oldster that I have become does a bit of sneering. Let's face it, in spite of its wonderful work, our constitution is getting a bit creaky. I mean, back in the good olde days when King George number three was in charge, he had the habit of quartering British troops in civilian homes. I don't know whether it was in order to remind the locals of the majesty of British rule or because he was too cheap to build barracks for them.
Whatever his purpose, time has put quietus to that idea I don't think American revolutionary troops were ever quartered in civilian homes and the constitution has a clearly stated ban against such practice. Clearly, it is an archaic practice. With a standing army quartered in private homes, you'd have young soldiers roaming the streets causing general mayhem among the citizens. Not only for training reasons, but barracks and camps have to be built to protect society from testosterone laden young men. Clearly, the prohibition had meaning only for that specific time, but now clearly past.
If you haven't yet gotten my drift, the same is true about the second amendment, the one that gives anyone the right to own any weapons in the name of fighting tyranny, self-protection and the sheer fun of shooting animals. Oh yes, there are some limitations having to do with the mental status of purchasers or their past history but those only apply if you try to buy a gun in a shop. At gun shows there are no such impediments to owning as many as you can afford and certainly, private sales are outside the pale. In essence, anyone with perhaps only a bit of hassle can get a weapon … whoops, I mean weapons.
What were those paragons of political wisdom, George, Tom, John, Ben, et al, thinking? How come they stuck the opaquely written second into the law of our land? If we accept they were not maniacs who cheerfully anticipated the proliferation of public slaughter we can try to understand what they were trying.
In the days after the revolution, there was general hostility to having a standing army. Armies served tyrants; we had had too much of that. The colonies, not well protected by the British army developed militias. They did not form, except for desultory practice in drill, until some hostility was upon them; at the call, male citizens were expected to grab their rifles and meet in the town square with the anticipation of fighting off marauding Indians. (You know, the people who were pissed at us for stealing their land.) I don't know if they served the purpose, but that was the best the colonies could provide. During the revolutionary war, the militia was useful for shooting from behind trees but could not stand up to trained British regulars. I mean, we had to have an army trained to stand in line, stand firm in the face of the British volley and fire back.
Pretty soon, states in cooperation with the feds developed the National Guard. They serve as a ready reserve for the feds and to maintain order during public disasters. You know, after a tornado, call out the guard. No one calls out the militia.
In truth, the concept of a militia is as dead as the dodo, the dinosaurs and spats. But, having said that, there is the second amendment, written at a time when muzzleloaders were the best available. If you wanted to kill, say 20 children and 6 adults you'd have to load twenty-eight times. Of course, this was impractical because there would be plenty of time for the potential victims to jump on you and kick your ass . . . many times over. In these days of semi-automatic weapons the killing task, as we have learned over and over is rather simple. Still, after emptying his weapon, the killer would have to reload, that's when he was most vulnerable and could be taken down. If he had a thirty cartridge drum before reloading, that means lots of dead people.
The NRA wants more guns in the population as a method of gun violence control and armed guards in our schools. I wonder how many would be victims of road rage. Well, if you have your own weapon and a vest you could shoot it out with the nut with a gun. And, all a school shooter needs is his bulletproof vest . . . so much for the capacity to shoot back. The NRA hero is John Wayne, but you'd have to be better at the draw or you get drilled.
We ought to accept that the second is as antiquated as quartering troops in civilian homes, no longer meaningful in modern society. Alas, our constitution has become more a sacred writing than a legal compact and the second will be with us for next fifty years or so. In the meantime, let's ban civilianized assault weapons, magazines that hold more than five bullets and require that all purchasers be vetted to weed out the undesirables.
There are many who think it a hoot.
To whip out their side arm and shoot.
Some foolishly think freedom brings
The need to put up with such things
Number two? Let's just give it the boot.