To Defenders of the Second Amendment
It is interesting that so many are so passionate about the 2nd amendment:
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.
I wish they were equally passionate about the abridgement of so many of our other rights. The 1st Amendment right to free speech has become under Citizens United a mechanism for corporate speech, not individual expression. He who has the most bucks has the most speech. The 1st Amendment's right to peaceful assembly has been trashed. Any assembly that looks like it might seriously challenge our current political leadership, Democrat or Republican, is subjected to kettling, pepper spray, and police raids.
The 4th Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as its demands for probable cause and warrants, went up in smoke on 9/11. And they aren't coming back as long as we have the War on Terror and our national surveillance state. Indeed while the War on Terror creates more terrorists than it kills, it provides a wonderful pretext for endless, ridiculously expensive imperial wars and a justification for the elimination of our basic rights.
The 5th Amendment and 14th Amendments requirement for due process, the 5th Amendment's promise that none shall be held to answer for an infamous crime unless under indictment by a grand jury, and the 14th Amendment's equal protection of the laws have been blown apart by both the War on Terror and the failure to prosecute a war against the real terrorists, our nation's bankers. The neutering of the 5th and 14th Amendments was crucial to the construction of the two tier justice system we now have. For the rich and corporations, there are trillion dollar bailouts and immunity from all laws minus a few occasional cost of doing business fines. For the rest of us, it is a merciless, implacable system with draconian punishments straight out of Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.
The 6th Amendment's right to a speedy trial, to confront one's accusers, and to being given the resources to mount an adequate defense? All gone in our system where if you have the money to afford an adequate defense, you won't need one because our rich and elites seldom charge their own. The law is only there for those of us who can not afford it.
The 7th Amendment's right to trial by jury like the 5th and 14th is gone in national security cases and has been largely superseded by plea bargains in criminal cases.
The 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment died the first time our government tortured anyone in its regular wars or the War on Terror.
The 9th Amendment is what I call the forgotten amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people
Just because a right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, for example, does not mean there is no Constitutional guarantee of privacy. The Framers put the 9th Amendment in the Constitution, but having done so, they and all their successors among the powers that be turned their backs on it, and have ignored it for more than 200 years.
Habeas corpus, one of the few legal rights so fundamental that the Federalists included it in the body of the Constitution, is gone in national security cases. Boumediene affirmed habeas only because Justice Kennedy saw it as a turf issue. In practice, habeas petitions in national security cases go through the DC Circuit, they are routinely denied at the Appellate level regardless of the merits and the Supreme Court on which Justice Kennedy sits just as routinely denies them cert. So habeas corpus is preserved in form but not in substance. A right which is respected in theory but not in practice is no right at all.
All these rights, the very essence of who we are, what made us rightfully proud to be Americans, gone, done away with, without a fight, without a whimper. Yet the least of these, the 2nd Amendment, bent and twisted out of its original context, this is the one you embrace and hold on to? Guns do not make you safe. The law and the decency of your neighbors do. Guns are no protection against the state. What did your guns avail you when the government erased all your most basic human rights, the crown jewels of the Constitution? You. did. nothing. You are hollow men. Hold on to your metal sticks if you want. They can not protect you from your own moral vacuousness.
[This started out as a comment at Naked Capitalism on a thread dedicated to the Newtown massacre. The thread was filled with 2nd Amendment defenders recycling the standard arguments and I thought they really missed the point. The threading in the post had broken down and I wanted to keep what I had to say from being lost. I thought corrente would be a good place to post it, and it also allows me to try out lambert's site improvements.]