"And that said Constitution be never construed to
authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of
conscience, or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable
citizens, from keeping their own arms."
~ Samuel Adams, 1789 ~
There’s been much discussion over the years, as well as recently on the SASS Wire, about whether or not felons should be allowed to keep and bear arms after serving their prison time. I don’t know if we will ever come to a national consensus on this issue but being the Absolutist that I am, I’ll just offer up the view from my saddle and you all can take aim at it.
I encounter questions of human rights such as this one, I first look to see if
our founders had anything to say about it by searching both the Constitution and
throughout their personal writings—such as the Federalist and other letters.
I believe these men were as close to divinely inspired as anyone could come when
drafting our Constitution and giving birth to America, I don’t think we can go
far wrong following their advice on much of anything.
Adams, one of the more passionate of our founders, addressed this issue and
clearly stated his version of the Second Amendment Absolutist philosophy that he
and I share. Adams
unambiguously said that those who are “peaceable citizens” should not be
barred from keeping their own arms. That’s
pretty clear in my view!
it occurs to me that violent felons, as opposed to non-violent felons, are not
the "peaceable citizens" to whom Adams was referring where the right
to keep their own arms is concerned.
Violent felons have proven incapable or unworthy of retaining many of their rights. By their own choice of life’s many possible career paths, they have removed themselves from the "peaceable citizen" category...if I understand Adams correctly.
My Absolutist philosophy applies to that same
peaceable citizen to whom Adams referred—always has and always will.
Throughout my years of thinking about, speaking on and writing about such things, I have always maintained that criminal behavior is what should be the basis and focus of punishment, not the peaceable citizen or the tool used in the commission of a crime. My columns over the years never wavered from that absolute stand and, as demonstrated by Adams, the founders shared that position.
By its very nature, a felony is the more serious of crimes—serious enough that when one decides to follow a felons' way of life, they in fact choose to surrender many of the rights peaceable citizens inalienably enjoy.
Does the felon surrender them forever? I think it depends on the crime. Is there a difference between a little milk toasty weasel who dipped his hands into the cash drawer and a cold-blooded killer? I’d say so.
If the felony is a non-violent crime such as a first
and one time conviction for embezzlement by that little weasel let’s say, and
he pays his debt to society and it is determined he can rightfully resume his
role as a peaceable citizen, then I agree with Adams, as I always have.
If however, one leads a violent life of murder,
robbery, rape or assault or he is a career felon with a record as long as your
arm and it’s determined he has not shown or cannot resume the life of a
peaceable citizen then the answer is no to keeping arms—again, just as Sam
Adams sees it.
Common sense judgment about human shades of gray is needed here in terms of convicted felons and their particular nature and crimes.
Can these shades of gray be argued, discussed, pondered and adjudicated where felons and the seriousness of those crimes are concerned? Absolutely, and they will and should be in a country like America. In fact, our founders provided for just such latitude when establishing the basis of the legal system we have in this country.
Now are there any shades of gray in the right to keep and bear arms where peaceable citizens are concerned? Absolutely Not!
In terms of the peaceable citizen, there’s no question in my mind and never has been a question or even the slightest doubt of my personal conviction—"...shall not be infringed" is absolute. That's exactly what the founders wrote because that's exactly what they meant and no amount of gun-grabbing legal babble can ever change the truth of that. On this, Sam and I are again of like mind!
Just the view from my saddle—absolutely.
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