No, our rights shouldn't be cut up

(National Archives via AP)

Our rights are preserved in the Constitution, the one thing that keeps a tyrannical government from overstepping its bounds. While some think that’s not essential, they also tend to think that things like speech they disapprove of shouldn’t be protected.

Awfully shortsighted of them, really.

Yet few actually advocate for cutting up our rights. One did, though, and some folks are taking issue with it.

In The Boston Globe last December, Professor Mary Anne Franks did precisely this. As part of a symposium on the U.S. Constitution, Franks argued that Americans should seek to “edit” the “deeply flawed” First and Second Amendments so that they are less “aggressively individualistic.” The first two provisions within the U.S. Bill of Rights, she concluded, “are highly susceptible to being read in isolation from the Constitution as a whole and from its commitments to equality and the collective good.” And so, they must go.

Of course, if you interpreted either as collective rights or unaggressively, then they simply wouldn’t have any meaning.

That’s why so many anti-gunners argue it’s a collective right.

What they fail to tell us is just why would the government preserve the “right” for the government to keep guns? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, even if you ignore the fact that the phrase “the people” is believed to protect an individual right everywhere else.

And don’t get me started on the idea that rights should be considered in relation to “equality and the collective good.” What that will mean is that there won’t be equal rights at all. Some people will be able to speak freely or buy guns and others won’t because of some nebulous “collective good.”

However, Franks as a solution, such as it is.

Franks’ piece is filled to the brim with euphemisms that all mean the same thing in practice. She suggests that, instead of interpreting the First Amendment as we do currently, we should “resolve” any conflicts that arise “in accordance with the principle of equality and dignity of all persons.” This means that the First Amendment should have no teeth. She suggests that we should “provide stronger and fairer protections for the right of expression.” This means that the First Amendment should have no teeth. She suggests that the First Amendment should be “subject to responsibility for abuses.” This means—yes, you’ve guessed it!—that the First Amendment should have no teeth. As it currently exists, the First Amendment serves as the most-robust protector of speech and conscience rights that the world has ever seen. Franks wishes to change that—and not for the better.

Astonishingly enough, or perhaps not astonishingly at all given her treatment of the First Amendment, her edited Second Amendment wouldn’t protect the private ownership of guns at all. Having described the Second Amendment’s “focus on arms” as an “idiosyncratic and anachronistic” mistake that “degrades the concept of self-defense,” she removes any reference to firearms. Americans, she argues, should enjoy “the right to defend themselves against unlawful force … .” It’s unclear how that right would work in practice in Professor Franks’ America, where law-abiding Americans would have no right to the most-effective means of self-defense.

Of course, without guns, the right to defend yourself is often less than useless.

Is a 95 lbs woman supposed to use MMA on a career criminal weighing in at 300-plus lbs? What’s she supposed to use? Harsh language?

She won’t. But without the right to keep and bear arms being preserved for all, she may not have the means to defend herself effectively, especially if rights are interpreted based on “equality” and “collective good.”

Honestly, what Franks is suggesting is nothing more than an academic exercise for her own personal amusement. After all, there’s no way the majority of people will go along with this, even in this day and age of people looking at the Constitution as an impediment rather than the protective framework it is.

The whole thing is insane, but this is what we’re seeing these days. This is what we’re up against, and Franks isn’t the only person spouting this nonsense, either.

This is where they need to understand that our rights aren’t up for debate. We’re keeping them, particularly our right to keep and bear arms because there are monsters out there like this who would deprive us of them in the name of the false idols they worship.