“The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.”
—The first sentence of “Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make America Great Again ...Donald J. Trump on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” released today.
You can debate the various policy ideas in this typically simplistic approach to a complicated problem; that’s not my purpose. My purpose is to point out that a position paper on the Second Amendment that begins by misstating that amendment while saying the amendment is “clear” cannot and should not be taken seriously. Nor should its author.
Is he stupid, and not know that it is ludicrous to state what is not the text of the amendment with the emphatic “Period” ? Is he ignorant, and unaware of the wording of actual amendment that he proceeds to say “is America’s first freedom”? Or is he lying, using a false version of the Second Amendment to mislead his many followers who either haven’t read the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, or can’t read at all?
The Second Amendment may be many things, but clear is one thing nobody with any knowledge of the subject believes it is. It is not clear. It is, by far, the least clear of all the amendments, and that is why it is still controversial after centuries. The fake Second Amendment that Trump’s position paper uses is clear; too bad that’s not the real one. If the Second Amendment read “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon,” it would be clear, and opponents of gun ownership wouldn’t have any argument except to insist that we repeal it. The real Amendment, however, reads,
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That could mean the same thing, or it might not. It would seem it was intended to mean something else, otherwise why wasn’t it worded as in the Trump version? The seas of ink that have been spilled over the interpretation of that strangely constructed sentence could flood Texas, and educated, thoughtful people who are honest, erudite and not simpleminded (unlike Trump) have written provocatively on the subject, often disagreeing, as in..
- Knives and the Second Amendment
- The Peculiar Story of United States vs. Miller
- The Year of the Gun: Second Amendment Rights and the Supreme Court
- It Takes a Militia: A Communitarian Case for Compulsory Arms Bearing
- Guns and Gay Sex: Some Notes on Firearms, the Second Amendment, and ‘Reasonable Regulation’
- The Great Gun Control War of the 20th Century — And its Lessons for Gun Laws Today
- Was the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Conditioned on Service in an Organized Militia?
- The Hidden History of the Second Amendment
- …and many more.
Has Trump read any of these? Of course not! If he had, he wouldn’t misstate the supposed subject of his position paper, which any of the scholars who wrote the research papers above would have told him cannot be discussed intelligently or honestly without at least trying to explain (or explain away) that troublesome first clause. Trump, as he does with all things, attempts to solve a problem by dishonestly framing the issue and acting as if the complexities that make the real problem a problem don’t exist. Then he tries to make sure everyone is as ignorant as he is.
“Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make America Great Again” never once states what the Second Amendment actually says. Instead, it falsely states that the Amendment is 13 words shorter than the 27 words that comprise it, in an attempt to mislead readers….or perhaps because it author has never read the Bill of Rights. That’s a real possibility.
The position paper doesn’t give them a fair or complete knowledge of the Second Amendment, but it tells them all they need to know about the integrity, intellect and character of Donald Trump.