Anyone who tells you the words of the constitution are immutable... is a liar. Anyone who tells you that if the constitution gives an American a "right," there is absolutely nothing that the government can do to take it away, is also a liar. And, anyone who clings to only the strictest interpretation of the second amendment... is complicit in the murder of the 20 kids and 6 adults who have been senselessly murdered since the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution says: "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."
And yet, despite the constitution's language, Americans have their guaranteed rights infringed all the time.
Here's just a few examples:
The first amendment to the constitution says 'Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech.' "No law." It's pretty unambiguous. "No law." Not "a few laws." Not "some" or "one or two" laws. But rather, "no law." And yet... And yet!...there are dozens of laws that abridge a multitude of speech.
For example, it is against the law to:
1. Stand outside the White House and say: "I want to kill the President."
2. Call someone a child molester. If they are not, in fact, a child molester.
3. Hand out naked photos of yourself with a lasso lodged in your rectum.
Not only are those examples of speech against the law, but anyplace south of Hoboken, NJ, the punishment for taking Lynard Skynard's name in vein is... the firing squad. In San Francisco, after you say "NPR," you must make the sound of a choir of angels. And you will be beaten to within an inch of your life if you are within 500 yards of Madison Square Garden and you even whisper "Rangers Suck."
But wait! There's still more! It's against the law to incite people to riot. Meaning, your speech may not create a clear and present danger.
Neither slander nor libel are permitted, either. Meaning, there are criminal penalties for knowingly lying about someone in either print or verbally.
"Fighting words" also don't have the protection of free speech. Meaning, it is criminal to say something to someone that would reasonably result in violence. For example, if you walk up to say Chuck Liddel - the former Ultimate Fighting champion, and shout in his face that his mother is a whore... the law will not protect or replace the lungs Chuck Liddel rightly reached into your chest and mercilessly yanked out.
Obscenity is also illegal.
Plus, at the start of a civil or criminal proceeding, the judge in the case may impose a "gag order" on the participants in order to more likely guarantee a fair trial.
And it's not just the first amendment where our guarantees have been limited.
The Eight Amendment says that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." And yet, capital punishment is an option in 32 US states. Perhaps by firing squad. Or electric chair. Or more likely, a Rube Goldberg type electronic contraption with the sophistication of a Hillbilly moonshine still will automatically pump three types of sedatives into the arm of a convicted felon...after-which, he'll quietly go to sleep. Forever. That is, unless the drug companies that sell the sedatives refuse to supply it to prisons... and you have to buy them from less reputable European sources... after-which the guy struggles in pain for 30 minutes before finally dying.
That form of death appears to meet the definition of both "cruel and unusual."
Then there's the Fourth Amendment, which says "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated," and yet the NSA has been collecting meta-data on millions of Americans phone and internet use without justification or a warrant.
Then there's the limitations placed on some people who are supposed to be protected by the 5th Amendment, which says "No person shall...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;" and yet, thousands of Americans are on a "no-fly" list which both prevents them from leaving the US... or returning to it, despite the fact that they have not been convicted of a crime. Let alone charged with one.
I don't profess to know what new gun laws will help keep more kids alive... nor do I know which new procedures or treatments or interventions will result in better care for the mentally disturbed or the better discovery of the radicals and zealots determined to start a "revolution" by shooting up a Wal-Mart.
HOWEVER - I thing I am 100% certain of, is this: Complacency is no longer acceptable. Praying is no longer the answer. Wishing is pointless. Hoping is a fool's errand and the absolute guaranteed results of continued complacency, praying, wishing and hoping is... many more dead kids.
Jon Hotchkiss is the creator of This vs That, a new science series hailed as "revolutionary" and "hilarious." He invites you to see the 60 minute series premiere, FREE.