After the campus shooting in Oregon, I thought of writing about the need for gun laws which would survive arguments about the U.S. Constitution.
I stopped for a while, disgusted with myself, when I caught myself wondering about timing this post before a mass shooting happens again. I hate thinking that. I hate worse that headlines on the radio this morning tell me that I missed -- it has happened again. Already.
I've gotten out my university political science book and looked up the Constitution. I meant to re-read the Second Amendment and write about its original meaning, which we need to get back -- but that's not my subject right now.
Before I even got to the amendments, I re-read the preamble. I have heard it called the basis of "American values."
It looked so foreign.
Here's the text:
"We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure of the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America."
Both the murder rate (particularly in Chicago) and the rate of multiple murders, most of them with guns, strike me as repeatedly unconstitutional.
The lack of gun control is unconstitutional -- it repeatedly violates the principles in the preamble. Let's look at them, one by one:
to form a more perfect Union
People are dying in "war zones" across this city and country. That seems to be the new term for what other countries call "bad neighborhoods."
While this continues, can we say honestly that the union (the country) is becoming more nearly perfect?
The justice of the mentally ill acquiring weapons of war, but not medications for cures?
The justice of one small child in Chicago not only being shot, but losing his mother, grandmother and unborn sibling -- in the same shooting incident?
insure domestic Tranquility
Another mass shooting. The shooter. Gang wars.
Murdered schoolchildren. Lockdown drills.
How many school shootings since Newtown?
What's tranquil about anything on this list?
provide for the common defence
Let's be realistic: There was no police force as we know it when the Constitution was being written. The Constitution was defending us against unchecked government -- not providing was for us to defend ourselves against one another.
promote the general Welfare
In my work, volunteering, and simply helping people on the street, I am asked often about addresses and neighborhoods.
Years ago, passing along help I received when traveling alone, I might tell a visitor, "I wouldn't go there alone" or "It's not a good neighborhood."
Now, I'm more likely to say bluntly, "It's not safe."
Not everywhere; not yet. But "the general welfare" isn't improving.
The general welfare of Chicago was in full view on page 1 of the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 30, with a headline reading "Chicago under the gun: The most violent month of the year."
and secure of the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
When I go home in the evening via the crowded sidewalks of Michigan Avenue, I feel safe -- when I pass a small group of police officers, once or twice, on the way to my bus. While they defend us downtown and keep the blessings of capitalism from being stolen from the avenue's shop windows, "ourselves and our posterity" are being shot to death in other parts of the city.
Do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION
How established is it? It is being betrayed, phrase by phrase.
for the United States of America.
For the sake of the country, unconstitutional laws are revoked. How about the unconstitutional lack of laws?
If you don't agree with this -- if you think that the whole murder-by-gun problem can be solved by stronger law enforcement, better mental health care, or any other factor -- it is your First Amendment right to say so. But do say so! Let's keep talking about this, and keep our politicians talking.
It's long past time for the problem to be fixed.
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