Second Chances – Part II

In response to my post a few days ago about the general misunderstanding of Second Amendment, I was steered to this CNN story, that simply presents the text exchange between two sisters, one of whom was trapped in the high school.

Please take a moment to read it.  If it doesn’t move you to tears and anger, well. . .

My friend Jack Altschuler also steered me to a dissenting opinion on a Second Amendment case written by Justice John Paul Stevens in 2008.

The salient paragraph reads:

“The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

You can read the entire opinion here:

It’s a slog, but I recommend reading it.  In case you don’t, here are the headlines:

  • The Second Amendment was intended specifically to give you the right, and almost the duty, to keep a musket in your house in case you were called upon to join your state’s official militia, which is how they envisioned the new nation defending itself, and the states defending themselves.
  • The Framers considered and rejected proposals to make that right broader, but chose to limit it to possession of weapons for military use.
  • It was intended only to limit the Federal government, and was not intended to prevent the states from passing whatever laws they saw fit regarding the possession and use of weapons for non-military purposes (which a few states did, mostly by sanctioning the possession of weapons for hunting and self-defense).

Again, the notion that the Second Amendment is in any way about you having the right to own any firearms you want in order to protect your fierce American independence is a myth.

What we’re really dealing with is not an unlimited right, but bad grammar.  Bad on you, James Madison. (Yes, he wrote the damned thing.  Think “D-; see me in my office.”)

Now, a little common sense about this.

I once heard the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom I’m citing here because he was as conservative a judge as we’ll ever see, say that we should reserve our effort to interpret the Constitution to cover things the Founders didn’t know about, and on which they could therefore not express direct views.

Here’s a partial list of things they didn’t know about:

  • A standing army that has existed for 200 years
  • The institutionalization of state militias in the form of the National Guard
  • The operation of those militias in complete cooperation with, rather than in opposition to, the aforementioned standing army.
  • Bullets (they only knew musket balls)
  • Cartridges (projectile and gunpowder in a single casing)
  • Breech-loading weapons
  • Weapons that could be fired at a rate faster than once every 20-30 seconds
  • AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons
  • 30-round magazines
  • Tanks
  • Missiles
  • Nuclear weapons

A strict interpretation of the back half of the Second Amendment (the front half is where all the confusion exists) would permit individuals to own all of those things because they’re all “arms.”

It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that this isn’t what the Founders had in mind.  They certainly didn’t have in mind dozens of dead children on the floors of our schools.

Repeal of the Second Amendment is a pipe dream. I know that. But I would rather see us spend our time on that than on arguments over exactly what it does and doesn’t allow.  That would free us up to apply common-sense restrictions to gun ownership that would couple entitlement with responsibility.

I would also like to see an insurrection against our real oppressor, which is the NRA.

This is not some noble organization that defends a precious American right.  As described above and in my last post, that “right” is a myth.

The NRA spends around $70 million per election cycle to ensure that we will continue to have dead children on the floors of our schools, on the floors of concert venues, in churches, and elsewhere.  Plain and simple, that’s what it does.

Very little of that money takes the form of actual campaign contributions.  It’s mostly spent directly on ads supporting or, mostly, opposing candidates based on their spinelessness.  That form of spending is largely unaccountable.  Try Googling “how does the NRA spend its money” and see how little of the $70 million you can account for.

If you know how to make the hashtag #NRAmeansdeadchildren go viral, please let me know.  I’m serious about that.

There is a bright spot in all of this.  I’m delighted to see that brave students who survived the Parkland shooting are banding together to organize a nationwide student protest to start making NRA-backed members of the House and Senate face the music.

They picked March 24 in order to eliminate any “now’s not the time” objection.  They are wonderfully, stunningly informed and articulate.  And they have a moral compass of which our elected leaders are sadly devoid.

They are also credible in a way that no one like me will ever be.  I fervently hope that this will start a long-overdue grassroots movement, and bring about a change in the national consciousness.

Perhaps they will be able to accomplish what I wish I could and almost certainly can’t.

6 thoughts on “Second Chances – Part II

  1. Dave Lindgren sent an email to about a dozen and a half Warriors with a link to my post. I offered to them:

    Dave, thanks so much for sending my message to warrior brothers. I’d like to take this one step further.

    In all cultures, protecting the children, the family and the village was and is a primary job of the warriors. We may no longer wear primitive dress, but we still wear the responsibility. We’re not doing a good enough job if we’re allowing children to be ripped apart by AR-15 bullets (17 dead kids and teachers in Parkland, FL) and Bushmaster assault rifle bullets (Sandy Hook Elementary School – average of 4 bullet holes in each of 20 little six-year-old children and 7 teachers).

    There is room for discussion about our attitudes about guns, but over 90% of Americans want universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people, convicted violent felons and those on the terrorist watch list. An overwhelming majority of us want a ban on assault rifles. Both will help to stem the blood flow. All that’s stopping We The People – we the Warriors – from getting what we want is the influence of NRA money on our politics.

    Please make my video go viral so people all over America get the message to oppose politicians who accept money from the NRA.

    Dan, I’ll appreciate any forwarding of that and/or a link to my post you can do.

    See below for comments. I’s possible I’m a bit too wired about this – but probably not. It’s about your kids and mine and everyone’s.


    Jack Altschuler Chief Alive Officer

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    1. Jack, I’m not well set-up to link/forward, etc. since I do very little Facebook and no Twitter. I’ll figure something out.

      One important point. . .per today’s post. Only about 1.5% of the political money the NRA spends consists of actual contributions to candidates. So while figuring out which politicians “take money from the NRA” is easy, it’s woefully incomplete. By “woefully,” I mean 98.5%. Most of the money they spend is on TV ads that support or opposed candidates they do or don’t like, respectively. See

      Two notes about that link: 1) It shows about $55mm of NRA spending. Other reporting says it was more like $70mm. So even THAT is unclear. 2) No one should think this is some anti-conservative rant site. They report spending regardless of political leaning, including spending of labor unions, liberal groups, both parties, etc.

      That “outside spending” doesn’t get reported as a contribution to the candidate who benefits from it. For example, they donated $9,900 to Marco Rubio but reports say their total spending on his behalf was over $3 million. Other than one-off news reports like that, I don’t know how to tie their “outside spending” (or anyone else’s) back to individual elected officials and candidates. I truly wish I did. If you know, please don’t keep it a secret!

  2. WOW. I cried!

    Good post.


    Doug Doolittle | Vice President
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    From: “Carp Diem (Fish of the Day!)”
    Reply-To: Carp Diem
    Date: Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 11:20 AM
    To: Microsoft Office User
    Subject: [New post] Second Chances – Part II

    Dan Wallace posted: “In response to my post a few days ago about the general misunderstanding of Second Amendment, I was steered to this CNN story, that simply presents the text exchange between two sisters, one of whom was trapped in the high school.

  3. So impressive how the students instead of feeling like victims immediately decided to go on the offensive against the NRA and their minions. No diverting the issue to it’s all about mental illness or the horrible saying of the NRA that the only way to stop a bad person is for a good person to have a gun. How about we do what Connecticut did after their horrific school shooting. The passed tougher gun laws and found that since the laws murder by gunshot is way down. Imagine that. Ban assault rifles and magazines bigger than 10 cartridges, be tough about gun and gun owners registration, and do your best in other ways to decrease the number of guns floating around and shootings diminish. Less powerful guns, less guns, and better licensed and controlled guns equals less shootings. Such a simple equation. Sad that so many of our elected officials seem to be unable to comprehend this. And that they are willing to be bought off by the NRA and become complicit in the carnage.

    1. Thank you, Michael, both for your kind comments and your decision to share it. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I believe we are now going to have to rely on our children to discipline our adults. But this has to stop.

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