The Metaphysics of the U.S. Constitution tends to baffle us Brits


From a UK point of view the possibility of walking into a shop and buying an assault rifle seems at odds with, well, living in the twenty-first century on the planet earth!The United States Constitution was written for the purpose of establishing an effective but limited national government, a government that would be capable of dealing with national and international problems, but that would not be able to violate the traditional liberties of the people. The Second Amendment stipulates that “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.” In Caetano v Massachusetts 2016), the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier rulings that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding” and that its protection is not limited to “only those weapons useful in warfare”. Therefore assault rifles are, by definition, part of the mix. In Teixeira v County of Alameda the Ninth Circuit ruled that the right to keep and bear arms included being able to buy and sell firearms. The court ruled that a county law prohibiting a gun store being within 500 feet of a “[r]esidentially zoned district; elementary, middle or high school; pre-school or day care center; other firearms sales business; or liquor stores or establishments in which liquor is served” violated the Second Amendment. The duty of care shown to a constitutional stipulation – even at the (apparent) expense of a school full of children points to the ‘sacred’, metaphysical -almost theological regard shown to such stipulations. In a society emphasizing a formal distinction between church and state, the human need to inculcate one’s (dry) laws with immutable, hard won ‘objective’ principles is crucial to understanding the inability of the US President – any President –  to change the law and, hence, offers the ongoing possibility of easy access to firearms with the atrocities that may then follow.

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