Letter to the editor
Alan Johnston’s Open Forum on Jan. 28 certainly contains some seriously flawed reasoning.
He is right about the role of the militia in early America, but his contention that the national military is the modern-day militia is wrong. The role of the armed forces is not law enforcement. The state National Guard can be called into action by the governor in times of emergency.
One of the most recent examples of citizens assembling and taking armed action was in Athens, Tenn., in 1946 when returned veterans of World War II took up arms and overthrew a corrupt local government the Justice Department had done nothing about. Not one person who took part in the uprising was prosecuted. It should be taught in our history, but is not.
Mr. Johnston cites the Declaration to explain the term “the people.” The Declaration is a wonderful historic document, but it is not the law of the land. The Constitution is.
The First Amendment gives people the “right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This may seem like a collective right, but it gives each individual the right to join with any other individual or a group. The right to petition the government is certainly an individual right.
The Fourth Amendment says people have the right to be “secure . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This can only be interpreted as an individual right. So we can see that “the people” and “person” both refer to individual rights.
Mr. Johnston’s reasoning that only arms that existed when the Constitution was written should be allowed is flawed thinking. Technology does not stand still. The only means of communication in the 18th century were the spoken and written word. The First Amendment certainly applies to radio, television, and yes, the Internet, which did not exist in the 18th century. The Constitution was written by wise men who created a document flexible enough to still be viable more than 200 years later.
The Second Amendment is ambiguous language but the Supreme Court has interpreted it as giving an individual right to keep and bear arms. That’s the law of the land.
John D. Bly