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How the Second Amendment Differs From the Rest of the Bill of Rights

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 14/03/2016 Mike Weisser
AUSTIN OPEN CARRY © Erich Schlegel via Getty Images AUSTIN OPEN CARRY

Having secured the right to own firearms without being required to do military service, Gun Nation is busily trying to widen the boundaries of the 2nd Amendment by claiming that 'open carry' is also a legal right. Now let's forget for a moment that the 2008 Heller decision specifically referred only to keeping a handgun within the home, even though most states also grant residents concealed-carry privileges with or without any special approval process, so for Gun Nation uncontested concealed-carry has also become an unquestioned 'right.' But in some states, Texas being the most newsworthy in this regard, gun ownership now also includes openly carrying guns which has become a further extension of gun 'rights' today.

So the bottom line is that Gun Nation is pushing the idea that walking around with a gun would be no different than walking around with a droid. Except it's pretty hard to hurt yourself or anyone else with a cell phone, while it's pretty easy to hurt yourself or someone else with a gun. To which, of course, Gun Nation replies that: a) guns are important 'tools' for self-defense; and b) the 2nd Amendment gives us the Constitutional 'right' to own a gun. Incidentally, when I was in USRA, nobody ever referred to my M-1 rifle or my 1911 pistol as a 'tool.' Of all the ways that Gun Nation tries to disguise the fact that guns are simply a lethal product that do a lot more harm than good, the notion that all those armed citizens are protecting us with their 'tools' has to be the dumbest and most childish justification of all. Anyway, back to Constitutional rights.

Even though I own more than 60 guns and would hate to see the day that I couldn't own any more, I have never felt the slightest desire or concern to protect or even believe in the 2nd Amendment as some kind of Constitutional right. Obviously it's in the Bill of Rights, so my guns are protected by Constitutional stricture whether I like it or not. But when the NRA tells me that the 2nd Amendment is my "first freedom," when an amateur huckster like C.J. Gresham says that restricting open carry is an 'infringement' of his 2nd Amendment rights, I think it's time to sit down and once and for all try to figure out what the 2nd Amendment really protects.

I'm not a Constitutional expert and I certainly wouldn't presume to know more about the 2nd Amendment than what has been written by eminent jurists like the late Antonin Scalia or respected scholars like Stephen Halbrook, Sanford Levinson or Don Kates. But when I look at the 2nd Amendment as an Article in the Bill of Rights, one thing jumps out at me which the gun debate seems to have overlooked, namely, that it is the only Article in the Bill of Rights that protects only a certain group of individuals: people who decide to own guns. Every other Amendment guarantees protections to everyone, whether it's speech, religion, assembly, due process, trial by jury or payment for private property that is taken for public use. But if I decide not to own a gun, and that decision happens currently to be shared by a majority of Americans, then the 2nd Amendment means nothing to me.

Which is why the claim by Gun Nation that the 2nd Amendment guarantees 'our' freedom is nothing but pure bunk. Which is also why the open-carry idiots who paraded around the SXSW festival in Texas were supporting nothing more than the right to act like jerks in public which, thanks to the 1st Amendment, is a Constitutional right we all enjoy.

If the pro-gun community wants to pretend that everyone derives a benefit from the 2nd Amendment, that's all fine and well. But the GVP community should make it clear that because the 2nd Amendment only protects people who own guns, it doesn't protect them at all.

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