Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Arms We're Not Allowed to Bear

Most Americans don’t know much about the Constitution*, but they know the Second Amendment (the one that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms) by heart; and they probably at least recognize the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination**). Indeed, many people over the years have found the Fifth Amendment to be quite useful after they’ve gone overboard exercising their Second Amendment rights in a way that attracted the attention of the local coroner.

It seems to me that we’ve gone totally nuts over the last few years on the topic of guns and the Second Amendment, with common sense, practicality, courtesy, and simple decency taking a back seat to paranoid political agendas. Nowadays it’s not enough to just own a gun … you’ve got to have a bigger one than anyone you're likely to meet, and carry it everywhere you go, just in case someone else might try to shoot you … not an unreasonable fear when people are allowed to pack heat in places like bars, which do not encourage self-restraint and prudence.

I think we need to take another look at what the Second Amendment actually says. Forget the part about “a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state” … the Supreme Court has decided the founders weren't really talking about militias, anyhow. Let’s look at the most important, but least-considered word in the Second Amendment: the word arms.

If you look up arms in the American Heritage Dictionary***, you will find one of the definitions to read, “Weapons, especially firearms.”

The key word here is especially, which acknowledges the existence of other types of arms as well … and that leads us to my question: why does the Second Amendment not protect our right to bear arms other than firearms? Why can’t I take my battleaxe, war hammer, broadsword, mace, or dagger to the local supermarket? Why can’t I carry falchions or cutlasses on the street? If I can carry an AR-15 rifle with a 100-round drum magazine into the nation’s busiest airport, why can’t I carry a crossbow there? If I can have a gun rack in my truck, why can't I mount a lance on it? Are these not arms, my right to carry them duly protected by the Holy Second Amendment, let me hear you say hallelujah?

A few days ago the Arkansas Times published a satirical article titled “A Modest Proposal,” which suggested that since the open carry of firearms was legal in Arkansas “as long as the person doing the carrying doesn't intend to commit a crime,” the next step in personal protection should be to legitimize the open carry of “large butcher knives, rusty machetes or razor-sharp hatchets.”

Using the same arguments put forward by supporters of the open carry of firearms, the article presented a tongue-in-cheek advocacy for the legal open carry of arms other than guns, such as the aforementioned “large butcher knives, rusty machetes and razor-sharp hatchets.”

Now, the article was clearly satirical and sarcastic to the point of being over-the-top, but the online comments posted to it were truly instructive. The howls of rage from gun advocates were deafening, and every single one of them missed the point … that the open carry of weapons of any sort can be frightening to those of us who can’t distinguish the people who don’t intend to commit a crime from those who do (the “good guys with a gun” from the “bad guys with a gun,” as so memorably described by NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre). When I see someone packing major heat in a public place, my first thought isn't that he (or she) is a well-trained, civic-minded protector of the weak, ready to blast away heroically at evildoers who would use their firearms for nefarious purposes ... he (or she) doesn't have a glowing halo, or wear a sign prominently reading "NRA-Certified Good Guy with a Gun."


What I see is someone who is carrying a deadly weapon, whose state of mind is unknown, and whose intentions and motives I cannot judge. As far as I'm concerned, that person poses a definite and potentially life-threatening danger to me and others around me.

So ...

Those of you who absolutely insist beyond reason and discussion that you absolutely must be permitted to carry your firearm of choice+ any place you wish need to understand that your actions - which are generally legal - can be interpreted as highly threatening to those of us who don't know your intentions and your state of mind.

Of course, you don't care ... and looking threatening is probably what you wanted in the first place.

Which is why if you want to be able to carry a gun, I want to be able to carry a sword.

Have a good day. Be rational. More thoughts tomorrow.


* And what they know is largely inaccurate. 

** That would be the famous “taking the fifth” so beloved of police and lawyer shows.

*** And it should not surprise you that I have.

+ Don't bother telling me what the Second Amendment says ... I know what it says. Explain to me why you aren't willing to discuss it rationally. Refusing to discuss it is not an argument.


Duckbutt said...

I'll assert my right to carry a machete.

It's interesting that the Second Amendment discussion does not include knives, swords, light sabers, and so forth.

Mike said...

Or the menacing pencil that can take out a eye according to my mother.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Does Silly String count a an arm that we have a right to bear?

Gonzo Dave said...

Or throwing stars... I want a bandolier full of throwing stars.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Would pitchforks count as an arm?

I support the right to bare arms, if it's warm enough.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

When I see someone toting a rifle in a public place, I get apprehensive. What if he or she is a homicidal nut?

allenwoodhaven said...

Good points, Bilbo. There would probably be less death, albeit more injuries, if people had swords instead. An advantage would be that swords can be quite heavy and cumbersome. They require a lot of stamina to swing, so they might be used less.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Even a spatula can count as an arm if used right.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Bare-chested and wielding a sword. That's the Second Amendment we can live with!