Sovereignty 101: Why the Second Amendment is absolute (the short version)
By John Longenecker
As I have posted over the years, the Founders of this country defeated abuse of process as much as they defeated an army and a single person as the Sovereign. They learned from misery and tyranny what NOT to do. One thing was within their power, and that was to make certain things absolute. All they need do was declare it at the nation's inception, and they did; It rests in the words of art 'shall not be infringed.' How's that for Original intent?
Shall not are words d'art, and in law, when interpreting what the founders made for themselves and for posterity in original intent, we summon the language in framing-era terms. Shall is itself a legal term of some generations of Black Letter law. We do not interpret the law of the nation's inception in 2009 terms to suit political correctness or change, but in the wisdom of the framing-era experience and what they defeated, what they foresaw would recur in every coming generation, and how to prevent it. The Founders learned a lot, and the hard way. This is the purpose of the Second Amendment: to be independent of the foibles of our servants. Servants are hired to serve the sovereign in a nation of self-rule, not pure rule by the servants.
Today, we say that the Second Amendment protects all our other rights. I have said for years that in every generation, the health of the Second Amendment reflects the overall health of the nation, because it is either respected for its language of shall not be infringed, or it is not, and subtle infringements by the thousands mean that it is not. It is no wonder that government becomes more daring, more hostile to our way of life, more vicious to patriotism and matches it all with more gun control measures.
As gun control goes, so goes the nation. Or haven't you noticed the collateral procession of the two over time?
The Founders met this very same kind of abuses of due process in warrants and other abuses in need of citizen oversight. When they crafted the nation, when they finally debated everything out and arrived at what they would declare and pledge of themselves, it was that the citizen was to be the sovereign and that, as such, only the sovereign would have the monopoly on all lethal force. This was as it should be. Every nation's sovereign has the monopoly on lethal force. Other nations do not have the Constitution and its first ten amendments we have.
As gun control goes, so goes the nation.
In defeating the tyranny of one man, the Throne of England, the Founders declared the citizen to be the supreme authority in this country. To short-circuit tyranny of majority, we were declared a Republic. Republicanism is better for self-rule than Democracy is. Other safeguards were created, the armed citizen being one of them.
Whether we be a Republic might be a philosophy, but whether the lethal force which backs our sovereign authority is absolute is not. The Second Amendment is not a matter of philosophy, but a matter of survival in both personal self-defense, of course, but even more in national liberty and independence from the peccadilloes of our servants, and there is no two sides about that. For some, our survival might be a philosophy as some want the looming Statism over a Republic, but that is another issue.
The Second Amendment as a philosophy presumes that survival is an opinion, that the subject of who is really in authority debatable, and it gives away too much that need not be given away at all. Marie Parente said that once you sit down to negotiate something you already have, you lose. Do we sit down to negotiate who is in charge of this country and how that authority is to be ensured? We have no need to debate who maybe armed, for we have no desire to debate who is the sovereign. Any discussion at all on whether our sovereignty is clear is one of those equal-outcome views a free society will come to regret.
The Second Amendment is absolute because it is the everyman lethal force which backs the totality of our sovereign authority in this country, and, short of another amendment, it is impervious to ordinary due process. Until that very hour it is replaced, the Second Amendment is absolute, because it must be. It is not open to debate, and just because it is debated doesn’t change the truth of the framing-era original intent. It merely proves how it is genuinely necessary to the security of a free state always, and on whose say so, namely ours.
2A cannot be compared to 1A because 1A is not absolute. As I have posted, one cannot lie under oath and hide behind the right to free speech. One cannot falsely advertise and claim First Amendment. One cannot bargain in bad faith to enter a contract in order to gain advantage and hide behind free speech (or personal philosophy of doing business). One cannot disturb the peace and claim free speech. You get the idea of why the First Amendment can never be absolute. An absolute First Amendment for all its contents cannot serve freedom and justice for all if it were.
But the absoluteness of the Second Amendment can and does serve freedom and justice for all. 2A was written to be absolute by the Founders who experienced precisely what we are experiencing today and every generation. The real problem some have with the existence of an armed citizenry is in accepting that things have come to this. Whose fault is that?
The only way that all other rights are even protected at all is by dint of the truth that the Second Amendment is not supposed to be infringed. But then, it is infringed, and as gun control goes, so goes the nation.
Just as important is the one truth that as gun rights and our sovereign authority go, so also goes the nation.
John Longenecker is author of Safe Streets In The Nationwide Concealed Carry Of Handguns.