In today's highly charged rhetorical political world, the Second Amendment probably gets the most lip service. Although the "debate" is relatively new, both sides like to root their arguments in history, cutting and pasting from the Founding Fathers or simply inventing passages to suit their purposes. The "quote" in the political cartoon came from a draft by Jefferson for the Virginia Constitution in 1776, and is often cited by gun advocates. However, the passage was not adopted.
James Madison is generally credited for the second amendment, which makes it pretty clear that the main purpose was to ensure the means to form a militia. In reading Pauline Maier's book, Ratification, the amendments were an afterthought, used to win the favor of crucial states like New York and Virginia, which the Federalists felt would turn the other states. Madison initially felt there was no need for amendments at all. All though, I don't remember her spending too much time on the Second Amendment.
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.
Michael Waldman tries to cut through the debate by offering a "biography" of the constitutional amendment, but Garrett Epps argues in his review that Waldman presents an opinion more so than a biography, castigating pro-gun advocates for their ridiculous views, including some well-noted scholars. Epps feels that Adam Winkler's 2011 book, Gunfight: The Battle Over the Rights to Bear Arms, is more even-handed.
However, there appears to be no middle ground in this debate. Whenever the issue is raised, hackles rise on pro-gun advocates who fear the government will come take their guns away. Any legislation regarding gun control is seen as the "first step" in a total repeal of gun rights. Among the many conservative advocates is David Barton, who himself wrote a book on the Second Amendment, vociferously arguing that the Founding Fathers intended everyone to have access to firearms.
Unfortunately, blacks still seem to be more often the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators. What made the McDonald v. Chicago case particularly hard to swallow is that the 5-4 decision essentially said the US Constitution trumps state laws on the matter of gun control and that it is an inalienable right for a US citizen to arm himself or herself. It seems that McDonald and other Chicago residents represented in the case were little more than a Trojan horse pushed into the Supreme Court by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association to get their desired outcome.
|Apparently they thought there was discount|
for firearms at Chipotle that day
It is not likely that Waldman's book will make any impact on this debate. Instead, these competing gun laws appear to have created a veritable "Gunfight at the Golden Corral," as Stewart not so comically pointed out.