Is the 2nd Amendment a 2nd Class Right?
Has the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution become a second-class right?
We all know the words: Shall not be infringed. So why is the right to keep and bear arms constantly under infringement, both in Massachusetts and in Washington D.C? Has the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution become a second-class right?
The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights for a reason, and the 2nd is right up there in importance. This shows just how important this right was for the founders of our country. Coming immediately after free speech, religion, assembly, and press…and just before the quartering of troops in private homes. Yet time and time again, we find this basic, enumerated Constitutional right under erosion, if not outright attack.
Let us consider what is required to obtain a firearm here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state where the American Revolution began, following an effort by British troops to confiscate privately held arms at Lexington and Concord. Ironic? You bet. But I digress…
In order to obtain any firearm, an applicant must first attend a state-mandated 4-hour License to Carry Firearms class. This costs approximately $125. Following that, there is a lengthy written application, which must be submitted to the local police department along with a check for another $100. Fingerprints and a photograph are taken. Some departments require a sit-down interview with the police chief, where the applicant must explain why he or she wants a firearm license.
After this, the wait begins. A deep background check is conducted, character references are checked, and the application is shuffled around through different bureaucracies. At last, the license is approved (or denied) and returned to the police department. But wait…if there is any discrepancy, issue, or question, the process comes to a shuddering halt. The applicant may be required to provide more information to satisfy the Commonwealth.
Finally, the new licensee can lawfully purchase a firearm. Now for another background check. Each and every time a purchase is made, there is a federally required “instant check”. This, however, may not be quite so instant. Due to high traffic, the system bogs down. Until the federal government says “proceed”, there can be no sale. Too often, the new licensee becomes the victim of a “delay”, and the purchase must wait several days. Oh yeah, don’t forget your pin number or the sale will not be able to proceed.
If a person were subject to all of the above in order to give a speech or attend the school committee meeting, we would have descended upon Beacon Hill a long time ago.
I think Justice Clarence Thomas said it best last year when the high court refused to hear any 2nd amendment cases: “The Court’s decision to deny certiorari in this case reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.” The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on New York’s restrictive licensing (or lack of licensing). Let’s hope they get it right this time.