It’s important for every American to get some degree of education. People need to know things, after all, including how our nation was founded and what the Constitution stands for.
Once upon a time, this class was called “civics.” Now, most students hear that and they think you’re talking about a fleet of Hondas.
Today, we have “government,” which is supposed to do something similar, but based on so much of what I’ve seen, doesn’t.
Take this letter to the editor I came across. It’s an example of the kind of broken thinking we commonly see.
The Second Amendment, passed into law by Congress in 1791, is by far the most misinterpreted and controversial amendment in the Constitution. Clearly, the amendment was intended to allow the existence of a citizen-led militia in order to defend their towns, homes and families from an enemy attack. There is nothing specifically contained in the Second Amendment guaranteeing an individual the right to own or carry a gun.
Yes, all that wrong in just one paragraph.
It’s kind of impressive, really.
First, Congress didn’t pass the Second Amendment into law. Not by itself, anyway. It then went to the states for ratification, which they did.
But the writer claims there’s nothing “specifically contained in the Second Amendment guaranteeing an individual the right to own or carry a gun.” Are they right?
Let’s take a look and see.
“[T]he people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Found it for ya.
In every other part of the Constitution, the term “the people” refers to individual Americans. Yet our intrepid letter writer would have us believe that in this particular instance, with references suggesting a change, they actually meant this was for citizen’s militias?
If that’s the case, then what the writer is saying is that all we’d need to do is say we’re part of a citizen’s militia and no gun laws apply. Is that a road he really wants to go down? If so, how many gangs and drug cartels, arrested on weapons charges, will just declare themselves as citizen’s militias?
I could go on here, but it’s quite clear that our educational system failed this individual. He’s not the only one it failed, either.
Somewhere along the way, they were allowed to believe that the meaning of the Constitution was malleable, that it could be changed according to the times. They were led to believe that language has no real meaning beyond that which you really, really want it to have.
He and others were allowed to think “the people” meant individual Americans when it refers to a right they like, but somehow means “organized groups” on rights they don’t care for.
Not only did he not learn in government class, but his English class failed him as well.
If this was just one guy, I wouldn’t say much. I read a lot of letters to the editor and, frankly, a lot of them are filled with people who just don’t know what they’re talking about. Editors run those because they enjoy stirring the pot a bit and hopefully ginning up readership.
I mostly pass them by.
But sometimes, you get someone like this that illustrates a broader point.
This writer clearly wasn’t educated on the Constitution in any meaningful way. They weren’t taught how the rights were considered and why the Bill of Rights was passed. They missed that each of those amendments enshrined and protected a right that the British sought to undermine during their dominion and our Founding Fathers wanted to make damn sure their fledgling government couldn’t try to do the same.
Of course, it didn’t work out quite that way, but it’s better than people like the writer would prefer.
If we’re going to preserve our rights in the long-term, we probably need to take a good, long look at how our kids are educated. Otherwise, they’ll end up like this.