After a two-week hiatus, the Wednesday Word is back! (Waits for applause to subside. Hey, allow my delusions of grandeur without laughing quite so loudly, please.)
I do have to warn you that today’s entry isn’t related to romance (or even fiction) writing at all. No, today’s blog is overtly, shamelessly political. Not in the sense that I’m taking sides, though. In the sense that I get annoyed when I see language so blatantly misused by everyone, up to and including justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yes, today, I am talking about the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case stemming from a Washington DC ban on individual licensing of handguns.
Naturally, the debate falls along the usual lines: those who want to interpret the 2nd Amendment as granting a broad, individual right to gun ownership and those who want to interpret it in light of the preceding clause, which mentions the necessity of a “well-regulated militia to a free state.”
But see, I don’t take sides in that battle. Because as far as I’m concerned, the 2nd Amendment doesn’t say anything about guns at all. It says “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Guns are arms, to be sure. But so are rocket-propelled grenade launchers, tanks, fighter jets, Scud missiles, and ICBMs. As are swords, knives, spears, and bows and arrows.
Now, call me a semantic hair-splitter, but I have yet to understand how this particular clause in the Bill of Rights is always, always read to grant individuals the right to own guns, but not (say) nuclear bombs. It says arms, and that the right to keep and bear them shall not be abridged. Just because the framers weren’t capable of foreseeing nuclear fission (any more than they were capable of foreseeing Uzis, given that in their time, the only guns available were of the single-shot variety) doesn’t mean they didn’t intend to give individuals the right to own A-bombs, does it?
And really, if the purpose of this clause was (as many “strict” constructivists believe) to give people the ability to resist the tyranny of a government run amok, then you know, guns alone are probably not gonna cut the mustard. Just sayin’…
You might think from the above rant that I oppose gun ownership. Far from it. (Although we don’t own guns ourselves for a number of practical reasons, my son has been target and skeet shooting many times, and I fully approve.) But I do think it’s rather silly that so many people stridently hold to the position that the 2nd Amendment gives people the right to own just about any type of gun known to the hand of man, but not the right to own other types of weaponry that would be, frankly, a heckuva lot more effective in the event of a breakdown of our system of government.
Funny, ain’t it?
YOUR TURN: Are there any words you see persistently misused or misinterpreted in political (or other forms of) speech? I’d love to hear your thoughts.