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Second Amendment: Anachronism here to stay
By C. F. Baumgartner
Initiative 594 has made me think about the Second Amendment, the NRA and its 142-year history, its 4.5 million members and its $300 million annual budget, which may be unmatched in fervor, focus and funding. The initiative, requiring criminal and public safety background checks for gun sales and transfers, triggered memory of the recent massacre at Newtown, Conn., the NRA’s response to it, which suggested the principal and kindergarten teacher should have been armed.
The Second Amendment was not penned into the Constitution to allow the colonists to defend themselves against the federal, state or local government. The Constitution sought first to deal with a debt crisis resulting from the Revolution.
The Continental Congress borrowed a lot of money to pay for the war.There was no standing army.Washington won the war,but he had to depend on armed civilian militias and borrowed money.
The Continental Congress denied Washington’s pleas for an army.Sam Adams believed that a permanent standing army was “forever dangerous to civil liberties.”
“Soldiers,” Adams warned, “are apt to consider themselves as a body distinct from the rest of the citizens.They always have guns in hand.”However, “the militia is composed of free citizens.There is, therefore, no danger of their making use of their power to the destruction of their own rights.”
Many Founders agreed with Adams, and they penned the Second Amendment into the Constitution, ensuring that citizens, not a permanent standing army, would bear arms. The real reason for the SecondAmendment was to put down slave and Indian uprisings.
Today the U.S. has the largest army ever assembled.It also has a militia – The National Guard.The Second Amendment is now as anachronistic as Section 2 of Article I that permitted slavery.Both are national embarrassments.
The Second Amendment has succeeded in making the worship of guns a form of idolatry.Guns are not gods.They are tools designed to turn animals into carcasses and human beings in corpses, and it is time to become more selective about who we allow to buy them.
C. F. Baumgartner lives in Mercer Island .