On the Right to ‘Bear Arms’ in 2012

by Seth Rogovoy

Let’s just for one brief hypothetical moment pretend to accept the view of the gun-rights crowd that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to bear arms, and that this was encoded in the Bill of Rights as an outgrowth of early America’s war against tyranny, when a citizen-based militia overthrew a Colonial power using, primarily, guns against guns.

Presumably this Constitutional “right” was spelled out so that citizens could forever defend themselves against a theoretically overreaching, tyrannical government (as opposed to the democratic one outlined in the Constitution) in the same way they did against the British.

So the implication here is that citizens need a guarantee that at all times they have the means to defend themselves. (Let’s even give a pass to the argument that in actuality, it’s a “well-regulated militia” they need. Just bear with me for a second while I spin this one out to its illogical conclusion.)

At the time of the Bill of Rights’s passage, the so-called “right to bear arms” would have meant gun ownership of some sort, guns at the time being the state-of-the-art weaponry that the American populace needed and used to fend off and defeat the British. That Second Amendment has always and commonly been understood to mean that citizens have the right to gun ownership.

But in fact, the essence of the Second Amendment is to guarantee the citizenry the means to defend themselves against tyranny. But the means itself to do so has changed over time. So taken to its logical conclusion, those who insist on the primacy of the Second Amendment over all other claims to safety and security of the citizenry should now be insisting that every American has the right to nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry; pilotless armed drones; nuclear submarines; surface-to-air missiles; Iron Dome-style defensive missiles; and cyberweapons – yes, we each have the Constitutionally guaranteed, inalienable right to be supplied with our own private hacker who can bring down a tyrannical government at any time.

Tell me momma – where’s my nuke?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.