WILCOX: 2nd Amendment Relic Of Early Republic


2nd Amendment Relic

Of Early Republic

To the Editor:

Otsego County is facing a proposal to declare this county a “gun sanctuary.” This would mean that our county board would ban compliance with the Safe Act passed by the state Legislature in 2013.

That act promoted, among other things, background checks, banning assault weapons, and limiting ammunition. It was not anti-gun, rather it was pro-gun safety.

However, the Safe Act has been perceived as a violation of Second Amendment rights by citizens who feel that guns are a vital part of their protective system and feel their right to buy any gun and any amount of ammunition is being blocked.

They cite this Amendment as if it were intended to be unchangeable for all time. They seem unaware that the Constitution was drawn up in the turbulent period of seeking independence from England’s exploitive hold on its colonies in the New World.

Too, the war for independence relied not only on the Continental Army but well-armed militias.

Though the Constitution reflected important visionary, democratic rights, there were flaws in it such as lack of democratic regard for women and African-Americans. It was not a perfect, untouchable document. In fact, amendments were soon being made.

The Second Amendment was in the historical context of relying on well-armed militias to defeat lingering efforts of English troops to subdue the rebellious colonials, a condition that no longer prevails.

Yet, pro-gun citizens abetted by the National Rifle Association seem to believe the Second Amendment simply established forever the inalienable right to own guns and ammunition with no restrictions.

Fast forward, and we have a supposedly sane, First World country like the U.S. condoning its populace being armed by guns and unlimited ammunition, even those designed for warfare. This condoning of the vast arsenal of guns in our country ignores evidence that the more guns possessed in any country, the more deaths there will be by gunfire.
No wonder we are among the seven countries of the world with the highest rate of death by gunfire from murder, accident, suicide and mass shootings. It is as if we extol weapons of mass destruction.

Please, let us not take a step backward from the Safe Act by becoming a “gun sanctuary.” We accept many restrictions for car ownership and operation. Why? It lowers the motor vehicle death rate by making driving safer. Why should we not accept similar restrictions about guns?


9 thoughts on “WILCOX: 2nd Amendment Relic Of Early Republic

  1. James

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776
    “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
    “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
    “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776

  2. Gala Poola

    Banning scary rifles will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Limiting magazines to 10 rounds will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Let some time go by then: Banning semi-auto rifles will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Limiting magazines to 7 rounds (it happened in NY) will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Let some time go by then: Banning rifles will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Limiting magazines to 0 rounds will save lives, it’s only reasonable. Does anyone doubt that the death by 1000 cuts is the playbook? The people enacting these bills and laws will never be satisfied with the last infringement, because it’s only reasonable.

  3. Barry Hirsh

    The Second Amendment is no relic, it is a founding principle of this nation.

    Times change; principles don’t.

    They are not subject to Monday morning quarterbacking.

  4. John

    Mr. Wilcox arguments seem to be misinformed of basic facts concerning firearms and the laws of this nation. I will address his comments serially here.

    It seems as if you think the 2A is a grant of permission from a benevolent government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like ALL the articles of the Bill of Rights, the 2A tells us that the newly formed federal government has NO jurisdiction over the arms of the people. This is amply observed simply by reading the document itself.
    “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.” Preamble of the Bill of Rights.

    To whom are those “declaratory and restrictive clauses” directed?

    And what does the phrase, “…in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers…” mean in the context?

    Several Supreme Court cases have told us that those rights enumerated are bans on the power of government. Odious though the cases were, they still stand as an explanation and guide as to the relationship of our rights to the federal government. Take for instance, the case of U.S. v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875), when the court tells us exactly how that Amendment is to be looked at by the Federal government,
    “The right there specified is that of “bearing arms for a lawful purpose.” This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress.”

    The right is NOT granted by the Constitution, and it’s existence is NOT dependent upon the Constitution.

    Note the very last line in the text…”but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress.”

    In 1866, the 14A was ratified, which the Supreme Court ignored until the 1920s, when the court started to hold the states to the same standard as the federal government was held when it came to the rights enumerated.

    So, the 2A right is just as strong and important as any other right enumerated. The right could be deleted from the BoR, and the right is not cancelled or voided–because the right is inherent to Americans as a consequence of being Americans. The only thing that would do is to change the relationship between gun owners and government–and not for the better, would be my guess. It would seem your “belief” is irrelevant.

    I have no idea of where you got your numbers about gun deaths. There are way too many errors in that one sentence to cover completely here, but I will address a few points.

    According to the Small Arms Survey of Gun Ownership and Homicide, of 192 nations surveyed, the US was NOT in the top 7. In fact, the US was below the average AND the mean. I invite you to look for it yourself.

    As for suicide, the UN and WHO studied this world wide. The statement from them was a simple and succinct statement that those in the anti-gun tribe simply detest.
    “[R]emoving an easy and favored method of suicide was not likely to affect substantially the overall suicide rate because other methods would be chosen.” World Health Organization, Changing Patterns in Suicide Behavior.

    Now, in the 1990s, the CDC studied self defense incidents, to counter the results found by researcher, Gary Kleck, claiming that there were as many as 2.5 MILLION self defense incidents annually. When the results of their survey were investigated, the results closely tracked with research done by Mr. Kleck. The data was promptly buried, until uncovered by Mr. Kleck. Here is a statement from him, which has been pulled so he can refine his methodology.
    “In 1996, 1997, and 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted large-scale surveys asking about defensive gun use (DGU) in four to six states. Analysis of the raw data allows the estimation of the prevalence of DGU for those areas. Estimates based on CDC’s surveys confirm estimates for the same sets of states based on data from the 1993 National Self-Defense Survey (Kleck and Gertz 1995). Extrapolated to the U.S. as a whole CDC’s survey data imply that defensive uses of guns by crime victims are far more common than offensive uses by criminals. CDC has never reported these results.”

    I apologize for this being so long.

  5. Bruce McDonald

    It’s not that it isn’t interchangeable, instead nobody has actually amended it. Until they do it is the law of the land. If you don’t like it don’t ignore it amend it.

  6. Jonathan VanderSchoor

    You’re absolutely right, our Constitution wasn’t great, even adequate, for everyone. Change, and a Civil War, was necessary. But our Founding Fathers were coming from Europe, where the King was able to tell you what religion you had to be. So there’s that…would you like to get rid of all of the amendments, like freedom of speech as well? Or just the ones you find inconvenient now? If you don’t like what it says, you are free to join a movement to amend it at any time. Or you could read a little about what those wise men had to say.

    It is undoubtedly true that with more freedom comes more risk. It is also undoubtedly true that many lives are saved by firearms every year (the estimates range from a couple hundred thousand to millions). It is also undeniable that governments are the true villains in world history, slaughtering their own populations by the millions.

    So as long as we live in an imperfect world, (which you can surely appreciate with a little history reading), where the criminal, or the rogue government, will always be looking to exploit a weak person or population, a firearm in responsible and good hands will always be the great equalizer. It turns a man or woman from a subject to a citizen, from a victim to a survivor.

    Finally dude, if nothing I said sinks in at all. . . grow a pair. The cops will not be there in time. Hope you never have to find out.

  7. Hiro

    Three points. First, malicious use of firearms in the USA is NOT proportional to the number of firearms in civilian hands; it’s much lower. Citizens in Switzerland also have a large number of firearms in their private homes without the problems that might be expected.

    Second, not every shot fired or life taken is equivalent. Shooting with the intent to defend is not the same as shooting with the intent to harm. Brandishing a firearm to deter a crime is not the same as brandishing to commit a crime. Killing to defend is not the same as killing due to hate or insanity.

    So, do more guns mean more gunshots and deaths? Possiblely. What matters more is who is shooting and why. An assailant who attempts to take a life forfeits their own safety in doing so, if the victim has the power to resist effectively. The more people who can effectively resist, the less likely the attempt is to be made.

    Third, more guns can mean less crime if more good people have them, know how and when to use them, and they’re willing to use them with the blessings of the authorities. Regardless, we have a natural right as living beings to defend ourselves by any means necessary. That right IS proportional to the threat. Sometimes the threat is great enough to justify death by firearm.

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