You know what? Fuck the Second Amendment. Oh, it was a perfectly fine amendment when it was written, but c’mon, it was written in 1789 (it was ratified a couple years later, in 1791). That was a long time ago. Things have changed. That’s the nature of things, isn’t it. They just change.
Look, the US Constitution has been amended 27 times. Why? Because things change. Because stuff that made sense at one point in time doesn’t necessarily make sense at another. Because even smart, reasonable, concerned people sometimes make a mistake or do something stupid. I mean, back in 1917 it must have seemed reasonable to amend the Constitution to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. But a decade and a half later, the American people thought “Lawdy, we fucked that up” and they had to repeal the entire 18th Amendment.
We can do that again, only with the Second Amendment. We could just repeal it. Or rewrite it so it’s not so fucking stupid. The 18th Amendment probably saved a bunch of lives by making it a lot more difficult to get drunk. But we’ve been able to find a somewhat reasonable balance between saving lives and being able to have a decent merlot with our supper.
We can do the same thing with guns. We really can. We can shitcan the 2nd Amendment. Hell, Thomas Jefferson (who knew a lot about writing Constitutions) kinda thought we could scrap the whole entire Constitution every couple of decades and cobble together a new and more timely one. You know, a Constitution that met modern needs. Seriously, Jefferson said, “The earth belongs always to the living generation.” Ain’t no reason for us to be locked into something written by folks 230 plus years ago.
Here’s what Jefferson wrote to James Madison in September of 1789:
[I]t may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, & what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, & consequently may govern them as they please. But persons & property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished then in their natural course, with those who gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, & no longer. Every constitution then, & every law, naturally expires at the end of 19 years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, & not of right.
And yes, usufruct is an actual word. It refers to the temporary legal right to use and enjoy the fruits or profits of something belonging to another. It’s from the Latin usus (meaning ‘use’) and fructus (meaning ‘fruit’). Let’s say your daddy dies and leaves you everything, including the house you grew up in, BUT because your daddy is a complete asshole, he stipulates the woman he divorced your momma for can continue to live in the house as long as she wants. It’s legally your house now, but your asshole dad’s girlfriend still gets to enjoy it. If she wants to paint the walls red, she damned well can, even if you think it’s a bad idea. Usufruct.
What Jefferson is saying is that the next generation can enjoy the Constitution their parents left for them but they’re not locked into it forever. When your asshole dad’s girlfriend dies (yeah, this is a metaphor), you get control of the house and you can repaint the walls.
What Jefferson was saying is this: we can paint over the 2nd Amendment. We can and we should. Because the walls have been red way too long.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Five people were killed and at least 18 were wounded/injured last night during a drag show at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the annual event honoring the memory of transgender people killed by acts of anti-transgender violence.
We shouldn’t have to live like this.
Tradition is the despotism of the dead.
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I’m pretty sure that Jefferson—if he were living today—would say, “Because the walls have been red way too fucking long.”
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It isn’t about the Constitution really, though, is it?
No, it isn’t … it’s all about the threat of violence to get their way.
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It is, and it isn’t. The 2nd Amendment offers a way to legitimize a gun fetish. Removing or changing it won’t stop the hate and the violence. It won’t even reduce the number of guns in the US. But hell, we have to start someplace.