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David Katz, M.D. Headshot

Unfettering the Second Amendment

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In my entire series of commentaries on guns and gun control -- most since Newtown, but some prior -- I have, for one thing, indulged the prevailing fantasy that this debate really has anything to do with the Second Amendment. I have pretended that I actually believe this isn't about big companies wanting to make as much money as possible by selling their wares. I'm sure those who truly believe the NRA fears imminent acts of tyranny by our government of jack-booted thugs against which they are the last line of defense, rather than losing the funding of the gun manufacturers that fill their war chest, have great admiration for the emperor's new clothes as well. They may also be shopping for bridges in Brooklyn.

But let's leave that alone. I have pretended I believe it thus far, and in for a penny, in for a pound. I will continue to pretend I believe it. It's about the Second Amendment! I do believe, I do.

And then, given that this is actually about our Constitutional rights, I have merely argued -- reasonably and moderately, I thought -- that the Second Amendment requires interpretation. I have suggested we were obligated to decide what people, and what arms. Not all arms, for all people, surely?

But I have been soundly thrashed for my pains. I have been told in no uncertain terms that I am an ignoramus. No, we do not need to decide which people, and no, we do not need to decide what arms. If the founders wanted our opinions, they would, apparently, have demanded them of us -- presumably at gunpoint.

So, I surrender to the adamant friends of my gun-toting countrymen. I yield to the omniscient, future-forecasting prowess of the founders. I renounce my prior allegiance, and seek to join the ranks of the enlightened. I renounce the nonsense of thinking about actual consequences in the actual world.

I am now for a Second Amendment with no interpretation whatsoever. Let's fully, completely, and utterly unfetter the Second Amendment from the outlandish suggestions of the type of ignoramus I was until just now.

The Second Amendment, unfettered, makes no exclusion for incarcerated felons. It makes no exception for those convicted of violent crime. And so, neither should we.

Admittedly, it will prove inconvenient for the security personnel in our correctional facilities when they are obligated to indulge the Constitutional right of inmates to bear arms. But that's too bad. It's Constitutional, after all. A gun in every cell, I say. And by all means, make it a big gun, semi-automatic, high-velocity, with a large magazine. There is no mention in the Second Amendment of any reason not to do so.

The Second Amendment does not disparage armor-piercing bullets, so throw those in, too. Who the hell are we to add provisos and caveats to a Constitutional amendment?

There is no mental health test in the Second Amendment. So our psychiatric inpatients also should have their Constitutional Second Amendment right indulged. There is no indication in the Second Amendment that those upon whom commitment papers have been served are exempted. The unfettered Second Amendment does not exempt them, so neither should we.

There is no stipulation of age in the Second Amendment. Kids are people, too (more or less) -- and the Second Amendment says, simply and clearly: the people.

And so I raise my voice on behalf of the voiceless! There is no Constitutionally-safeguarded right to bear toys, or play with mobiles. Substituting those for guns is outrageous presumption on the part of parents everywhere.

Since we can't know whether or not neonates want loaded guns in their cribs, but they have a Constitutional right to do so -- the only reasonable default is to presume they do. It is a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Second Amendment to deny every 1-year-old the arms to which they are entitled. I damn well want a loaded gun in every crib!

And if you, like me, support a fully unfettered, unfiltered, uninterpreted, and unsullied application of the Second Amendment -- then so should you.

If you happen not to want a loaded Bushmaster in every crib, in every cell, and on every psychiatric ward, then you seem to be suggesting the need to make decisions about what people, and perhaps what guns.

Frankly, that seems very slippery-slopish to me. What next? How far can it be between denying felons the arms to which they are entitled, and yielding all of our liberties to those jack-booted government thugs carrying out pogroms because we use the wrong brand of laundry detergent, or fail to watch Fox News? Truly, I see no daylight between those perils, and the many others that are sure to follow.

Denying the people -- and I mean any people -- their right to bear arms -- and I mean any arms -- seems dangerously unconstitutional to me.

If you remain so unenlightened as to disagree, I pity you. You are in the dark, as I was until half an hour ago. I won't go so far as to call you treasonous, but you know I'm thinking it.

But I will say this to you if you are the kind of ignoramus that wants to go off in the direction of interpreting the Constitution: in for a penny, in for a pound.


Dr. David L. Katz;