Quid De Cogitatione?

Glenn Rose
Sifting Through The Rhetoric

Next Monday, Jan. 20, the Virginia Citizens Defense League is organizing what it calls “the most important Lobby Day Rally that [they] have ever had,” saying, “If you care about your gun rights in the slightest then it is vital that you show up at this rally.”

I own guns. I also have a concealed weapons permit, although I never carry a weapon on me in public.

I won’t be attending, even though for $35 a bus ride as close as Staunton might be available.

I’m not fearful of the government taking away my guns. I’ve had a driver’s license for over 55 years. I’ve owned a registered car for over 50. No government has tried to take away my right, or more correctly, my privilege, to drive.

I doubt any government will unless I’m arrogant enough to drive drunk or finally too aged to drive safely.

I’m not moved to hysteria by the gun lobby’s incessant propaganda war against even studying the problem of gun violence.

I’m not persuaded by the farcical cliché that “depriving law-abiding citizens of their God-given rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution will not curb gun violence anywhere.”

I’m not sure what religion these proponents profess or what god they worship, but there is nothing in the Christian Bible that guarantees gun ownership. The first thing that comes to mind about weaponry in that Bible is the Prophet Isaiah’s admonition for people to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

The omission of assault rifles and high capacity gun

magazines doesn’t mean Isaiah thought his God was okay with them, seeing as how Isaiah is believed to have been written around 700 B.C., some 1,700 years before the first Chinese “gun-owner” shot the first firearm, a bamboo tube that was packed with gunpowder to propel a spear, probably doing more damage to the shooter than the wouldbe-“shotee.”

The U.S. Constitution signed Sept. 17, 1787, had 39 signatures of men. “God” was not among those signatories.

God isn’t a gun advocate. God didn’t guarantee any of the rights in the constitution of the United States. They were guaranteed by men then and are guaranteed by a broader group of citizens now and can be amended, added, or deleted by vote. Consider prohibition, ratified in 1919 and repealed in 1933.

Most of those opposed to gun laws seem to be conservative and Republican.

Conservative Republicans from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush, angry about “activist” judges who “wanted

to legislate from the bench,” have advocated for strict constructivism in interpreting the Constitution.

Publisher Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary defines strict constructionism as “Interpreting a legal provision (usually a constitutional protection) narrowly. Strict constructionists often look only at the literal meaning of the words in question, or at their historical meaning at the time the law was written. Also referred to as ‘strict interpretation’ or ‘original intent,’ because a person who follows the doctrine of strict construction of the Constitution tries to ascertain the intent of the framers at the time the document was written by considering what the language they used meant at that time.”

There is a vicious irony here for those who try to have it both ways.

If we were “to ascertain the intent of the framers at the time the document was written by considering what the language they used meant at that time” wouldn’t we have to determine that, with the

most advanced firearms for both civilian and military use being muzzle-loaded, singleshot muskets, they meant only that type of weapon as a “right of the people to keep and bear Arms, [that] shall not be infringed”?

The founding fathers could not have envisioned what the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and the advances in technology of the 20th and early 21st centuries would bring. Could they have anticipated that a country’s military might would far outstrip the citizens’ ability to resist it?

They imagined a citizen army, a well-organized militia, that, like Cincinnatus, would come to the country’s defense and willingly return to civilian life when the threat was vanquished.

What we have had is a military pledged to our Constitution and subservient to civilian rule of a democratically elected government.

The founding fathers understood that the greatest threat to our democracy was the concentration of too much power in the hands of too few.

It feared an imperial president and wrote the remedy for one who would lie to the people and abuse presidential power by exploiting our fears, ignorance, and gullibility for a personal agenda.

Strict construction of the

Constitution doesn’t work, of course. Interpretations must be subject to the changes and challenges of the day, within its framework and overall in


Gun violence is the challenge of our day. We all must be part of a solution that continues “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Those of us who own guns must share in that responsibility.