Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:06 PM
thomhartmann (3,474 posts)
Thom Hartmann: Do you really need a rocket launcher to defend yourself?
I get it - Americans want to have their guns. And I can understand a lot of the arguments in favor of gun ownership. You can build a case that someone has a right to a gun to protect him or herself and their family. You can build a case that someone has a right to a gun to go hunting. You can build a case that someone has a right to a gun for competitive shooting. You can build a case that someone has a right to a gun if they're in the business of protecting the nation - like the national guard or the reserves. In fact - that last one on the list was the real original reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment...it was to protect the nation.
Rewind back to the early days of America - even after the British were beaten back in the Revolutionary War there was still tremendous fear that American was vulnrable to attack. It could be the Spanish coming up from Florida. Or the French - or the British again - coming down through Canada. And most of our Founding Fathers also had an enormous fear of standing armies during times of peace - after all, thousands of years of history showed them that great nations that kept a standing army during times of peace were often taken down by that very army in a military coup. Jefferson wrote exhaustively on this - even threatening to blow up the Constitution since it didn't include protections from standing armies. As Jefferson wrote to James Madison in 1787: "I do not like the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly... protection against standing armies." And as Jefferson wrote in 1814: "The Greeks and Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended themselves...Their system was to make every man a soldier and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so."
And that's why they formulated the Second Amendment, which would provide for a well-armed militia that could be called on should the nation be under attack. Again - the second amendment is there to protect the nation - and, in part, to protect it FROM a standing Army during time of peace. In fact, it was modeled on the Constitution of Pennsylvania, the state where the Framers met, in Philadelphia in 1787, to write our Constitution. Article 13 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, adopted in 1776, says it pretty plainly: "XIII. That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power."
But recently - especially since President Obama took office - that rationale has been flipped on its head - and many - particularly on the Right - believe that the Second Amendment is there to protect the people AGAINST the nation. As though militias in South Dakota armed with rifles, handguns, and shotguns could somehow beat back the U.S. government armed with cruise missiles, tanks, and drones. They can't - and this idea that the second amendment is a protection against tyranny from our own government is a lie - a lie that's increasingly used today to paint President Obama as a radical who wants to take away our freedoms.
But leave it up to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to give creedance to this outrageous - and dangerous - belief. In an interview earlier in the week, Scalia said the operational word in the Second Amendment was "bear," as in "bear arms" - in other words, if you can carry it in your arms, you should have the right to own it. Including, he said, shoulder-fired rocket-launchers capable of taking down commercial aircraft. If the Second Amendment was REALLY there to protect the people from their own government - then they'd would need more than just handguns - they would need heavy-duty weaponry - like rocket launchers. Scalia is making the argument that since the Founding Fathers specifically said the right to "bear arms" - then any weapon that can be carried by someone's hands is good to go. Unclear if the same logic applies to a remote control for a weapons-loaded drone - since someone can "bear" a joystick. Or if it applies to nuclear weapon - since someone can "bear" a triggering mechanism. Or just nuclear weapons that many believe will soon be able to be fired from someone's shoulder. This is the sort of whacky logic that comes from Scalia when he clings to his originalist argument of the constitution. It's the argument that the Constitution is dead, it's not living and breathing to adapt to a changing nation - it should be interpreted based solely on the words the Founding Father wrote at the time.
So in the debate over gun control - Scalia doesn't care about new weapon technology that our Founding Fathers couldn't have dreamed of - or mass shootings that would have sickened the Founding Fathers today - he only cares about the words - in particular the word "bear." It seems silly - especially since - for all Scalia knows - the Founding Fathers may have not have meant we have a right to bear arms - as in own guns - but rather simply just a right to bear arms - as in the arms of bears.
There's an originalist argument for you, Justice Scalia. But jokes aside - this is a serious debate - literally, life and death. And for a Supreme Court Justice like Antonin Scalia to say this issue is settled because of one word used by our Founding Fathers - the word "bear" - is not just irresponsible and intellectually lazy...it's dangerous. Saying Americans have a right to hand-held rocket launchers than can take down airplanes does serve a purpose though - and Scalia knows it. Which is to add more legitimacy to those who believe the Second Amendment was written to protect the people from their government - and thus the people should be just as well armed as their government. That's not what our Founding Fathers intended. The second amendment was there to protect our government from foreign invaders - not from President Obama who's just trying to give healthcare to more Americans. And if you think it's bad that we have a Supreme Court Justice who doesn't understand that - just to think how many more whacko Supreme Court Justices we may have if Mitt Romney wins the White House
The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann on RT TV & FSTV "live" 9pm and 11pm check www.thomhartmann.com/tv for local listings
11 replies, 2766 views
Thom Hartmann: Do you really need a rocket launcher to defend yourself? (Original post)
|A Simple Game||Jul 2012||#4|
Response to tclambert (Reply #1)
Wed Aug 1, 2012, 08:09 AM
GreenStormCloud (12,072 posts)
7. Rocket launchers are legal, it is the rockets that are controlled.
Rocket launchers are nothing more than empty tubes with a hand electric generator attached. Completely legal.
For larger rockets one can use a rope between two trees as the launcher, as long as the rocket does not have fins that stick out.
Response to thomhartmann (Original post)
Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:27 PM
friendly_iconoclast (13,784 posts)
5. The Taliban in Afghanistan is still extant. We've got cruise missiles, tanks, and drones. They don't
Yet there they are, and apparently not going away.
I do not agree with Scalia on this, but to use Robert McNamara's argument that "the side with the most and best armaments inevitably wins" against his claim is dangerously ahistorical.
(Added on edit) And if (God forbid) things in this country ever got to that point, I rather doubt the 'legality' of whatever armaments the combatants used would matter a whit...
Response to baldguy (Reply #6)
Wed Aug 1, 2012, 12:49 PM
friendly_iconoclast (13,784 posts)
9. Just can't get seem to get rid of "those people", can you?
This is a discussion board, not an amen chorus just for people that agree with you.
Response to thomhartmann (Original post)
Wed Aug 1, 2012, 11:20 AM
jjewell (618 posts)
8. It'd kinda funny how Scalia...
focuses in on the two words - "bear arms" in the Second Amendment, but completely disregards two other
words in that same Amendment: "Well Regulated"...