The United States Constitution is the very fabric of our law and our lives. It should not be lightly modified. If we make a case for the changing effect of time and culture, we open a can of worms that may be hard to close.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution, written and polished by noble and fervent Americans living at a time when a new nation was coming into being, took measures to protect the rights of Americans to “keep and bear” arms. Courts subsequently ruled that the Second Amendment protected Americans’ right to possess firearms unconnected to a militia, although the need for a standing and present militia was then a real necessity, and the matter was discussed at length.
Some reports of these long-past events suggest that care was taken to avoid the unpleasantness of a “right of citizens to own arms provision” which might be used to provide armaments to those who would overrule a government, in a situation wherein that government no longer had the trust and support of the majority of people.
The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. Again, that’s December. Of 1791.
We may take a moment to call to mind what life in these United States was like in that early time. While civilization was booming in the east, life in the interior and farther west was far from civil. As Americans in covered wagons sought to make homesteads, farms, areas to breed cattle, they encountered Indians native to the region. The history of the defeat of the Indians is a tragic page in American history. The early settlers had to deal as individuals with bad men and rustlers. Gun-wielding bloodthirsty thieves, lawless criminals ran unchecked, out to take everything available for themselves. These lawless riders of the plains were often vicious; they worked in union with others of that ilk. When settlements turned to towns, and later, towns turned to small cities, there was little or no law. Some brave men rose up to protect the community; in some areas sheriffs were elected. Still we can imagine the plight of a man with a wife and children in those trying times.
One early sheriff and fighter for the people was the famed Wyatt Earp, believed to have been born on March 19, 1848. Earp worked for the law and helped to tame the west. He is remembered for a famous historical gunfight at the OK corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Earp’s birth was nearly 60 years after the passage of the Bill of Rights.
William H. Bonney, “Billy the Kid” started a life of crime with theft and horse robbery. He killed a man at the age of 18. He was a gunslinger known for his wanton violence. Billy is thought to have been born on November 23, 1859. That was 70 years after the Constitution was written as the law of the land.
Son of a preacher, John Wesley Harding was possibly the most bloodthirsty of the infamous in the Old West. He killed at least 42 people, including former slaves and gunfighters. He was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which enabled a faster draw. He was arrested at the age of 17, but was able to get a gun, kill a guard, and escape. John Wesley Harding was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, on 26th May, 1853.
The old west is gone, and a militia has been replaced with a vast and well armed military. People don’t ride in covered wagons, and they are in most cases well protected. In the United States, major cities daily are forced to defend the force of the special interest groups who openly profit from gun sales. Children are shot. Young people anticipate a short and violent lifetime.