Let’s Amend the 1st and 2nd Amendments

This is part 2 of the challenge posted previously to Rewrite the Constitution. It is probable that, with the first part, my approach was too much in asking for responses on how the Constitution should be changed to clarify and reflect one’s opinion. Even with the ubiquitous and often fractious nature of online debates about the meaning of different aspects of the Constitution, thus far, no one has offered any suggestions as to how they would change it. Surprise, surprise.

Therefore, I present in this post only the First and Second Amendments and give suggestions as to how one might amend them. Other Amendments in the Bill of Rights will follow if the response level for this post merits.


First, let’s get the biggest, most absurd issues/suggestions out of the way, of interest mostly to libertarians.

Repeals:

1. Repeal the entire Constitution and dissolve the federal government such that each State becomes a sovereign nation.

2. Repeal the entire Bill of Rights, leaving the rest of the Constitution intact, thereby leaving civil and social protections up to the States.


Now, for more thoughtful issues.

Revisions:

Text of the 1st Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Suggestions:

1. Repeal the 1st Amendment and leave social and civil protections up to the States;

2. Revise the religion clauses to say, “Congress shall make no law contrary to biblical law, or prohibiting the teaching thereof. 

3.  Revise the religion clauses to say, “No government institution, local, state, or federal, shall make laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting its free exercise without ecumberance on others;

4. Revise the free speech clause to say, “or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press except in cases of blasphemy* against the Christian religion;

* Suggestion for a definition of blasphemy as is defined by the Massachusetts Blasphemy Statute (unrepealed), Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 272, § 36:

Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

5. Leave the 1st Amendment as is.

————————–

Text of the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Suggestions:

1. Repeal the Second Amendment and leave gun possession rights up to the States.

2. Eliminate the first clause (“A well regulated militia”) such that the Amendment reads, “A means of protection, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

3. Revise to say, A means of protection, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be revoked, but well regulated.

4. Rewrite to say, “Since a standing army is now maintained by the government, negating the necessity for a militia and unfettered civilian ownership of arms, the right of the state to licence and regulate arms is necessary for public safety.”

5. Leave the 2nd Amendment as is.

*   *   *

Comments and ferocious debate appreciated–but be civil.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hampshirehog
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:00:16

    (4) recognises the state of affairs as they currently are in the first part, but the second part.. hmm. The deal is to minimise threats through correct regulation, by for example making sure that bad guys don’t get guns (through the loophole in private sales, for example).

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    • Max T. Furr
      Mar 24, 2015 @ 14:28:14

      Hi hampshirehog. Thank you for your thoughts.

      Are you suggesting that blasphemy laws are currently constitutional in the U.S.? If so, please state your case.

      I agree with you on the 2nd Amendment. I think, however, that a short clause, such as (3) is all it would need to clarify a government obligation to make laws to the effect that they reduce the gun violence and trafficking in the U.S.

      I think it could be done in large measure by every gun having to have a unique “title,” very much like that of an automobile. Sell it, and the title must be officially transferred. Lose it or have it stolen, it must be reported to the proper licensing authority–and stiff penalties for lying about it.

      That would not be an infringement on the right to possess and bear arms for qualified people.

      As for defining who is a qualified person, it should be quite clear and logical that our founders did not intend that incompetent and/or insane people should have guns, therefore they didn’t actually intend to mean all people have the right to own firearms.

      Too, when the Second Amendment was written, as you know, we had a very sparsely populated, wild back-country and, of course, no grocery stores :D. We are now far too populated and therefore the necessity for firearms is behind us. The 2nd Amendment, then, is outdated and unnecessary as written.

      Certainly not everyone would abide by a law requiring that guns have titles, but eventually the unlicensed guns would be filtered out of the system since the penalty for the unlicensed owner, if caught, would be about the same as an unlicensed driver driving an unlicensed car.

      Whattayathink?

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  2. BroadBlogs
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 15:42:43

    I’m going for “Leave as is.”

    Funny how the right-wing relies on “original intent” in interpreting the constitution, but only when it suits them. So use it with the 14th amendment but not with the 2nd.

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  3. Max T. Furr
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 19:03:28

    Very good observation. I was having an argument with a lawyer some time ago and, astonishingly, he was doing exactly that. I pointed out to him Jefferson and Madison’s intent as recorded in Jefferson’s Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, the document from which the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause crafted, and to his credit, he acknowledged it. Rarely do I have a conservative admit he was wrong.

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