Over two hundred years ago, James Madison wrote the original 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which was unanimously agreed to by the Founding Fathers. All were proficient in Latin rules of grammar, and Madison (who wrote Latin prose) used the Latin ablative absolute construction rule (also used in the constitutions of many states):
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
According to this rule, the first part (A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,) modifies the second part (the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.). The two parts of the statement are inseparably coupled; one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, one has the right to keep and bear a firearm if and only if one is a member of a well-regulated militia.
The two parts of the statement are inseparably coupled; one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, one has the right to keep and bear a firearm if and only if one is a member of a well-regulated militia.
Unfortunately, Supreme Court of the United States Justice Antonin Scalia (District of Columbia vs. Heller, 2008) took it upon himself to completely violate the rule by labeling the first part as merely introductory and superfluous, thereby retaining only the second part. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to accept this ruling. Thus, this decision gives anyone the right to keep and bear firearms.
In reality, this action created a totally different amendment that can only be ratified by a vote of at least three fourths of the states according to the U.S. Constitution.
Suppose the following statement were to be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
A well-regulated medical facility, being necessary for the health of the citizens of a free society, the right to practice medicine shall not be infringed.
If the illogic of Justice Scalia were applied to this amendment, it is clear that anyone would have the right to practice medicine. Such a decision would enable a proliferation of medical quackery as a source for the treatment of the health needs of people.
What does this all mean?
The past shows that we exist in a scary firearms culture. Here are some astounding supportive facts that reveal how out of control we are:
- The research of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the number of Americans killed by firearms on US soil during 1968-2015 (48 year period), was 1,546,863. This is more than the 1,316,733 million soldiers killed in over 80 US wars during our entire 242 years of existence.
- CDC reports that domestic firearm killings increased from 36,262 in 2015 to 38,658 in 2016, and that both counts exceed the annual number of highway accident deaths.
- The exhaustive research of the organization called the “Weapons Man” shows that the total number of firearms owned by the US population is between 412 to 600 MILLION! This is much more than the total number of small arms held by the US military forces!
- PEW Research reports that of the 44% of the population (142.1 million) who own at least one firearm, 3% (9.693 million) own half of all firearms (at least 206 million) for an average of 21.3 each, and 41% (132.471 million) own the other half for an average of 1.6 firearms each. PEW also reports that of the 56% who do not own firearms, there is a steadily increasing number who are acquiring them.
In recent years, there has been much talk about creating a “background check law” that would “weed out” the mentally unstable and violence-prone people in society so that none of these types could ever own a firearm.
Suppose such a law were in existence from 1968 onward. Would this have reduced the 1,546,863 killings by firearms to zero? It is highly dubious because there will always be people who pass the background check test who may unpredictably snap into a fit of anger and rage and kill someone with a firearm.
No one knows what the reduction could have been. However, one thing is certain: if none of the population owned firearms then this number would clearly have been zero.
Imagine if James Madison was resurrected from his grave, and was made aware of all of the preceding facts and history since his death. What might his reaction be?
“Madness, all madness! Put me back into my coffin at once!”