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The Founding Fathers Would Merit Altering the 2nd Amendment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/9/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 592 times Debate No: 118095
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Many 2nd Amendment proponents point to some idea that the founding fathers of the US would "roll over in their graves" if they knew we changed or otherwise abolished the 2nd amendment. Although the amendment was largely uncontroversial in its ratification, My opponents would suggest the amendment is immutable and debating it would be offensive to the founding fathers.

My Platform:

1. Although quoted in favor of gun control many times because of his Anti-Federalism, Jefferson's other quotes strongly suggest he'd be willing to consider changes to the 2nd Amendment. Here's perhaps the strongest quote on that, One ingrained in his memorial in DC:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, More enlightened, As new discoveries are made, New truths discovered and manners and opinions change, With the change of circumstances, Institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. "

Jefferson was keenly aware of the folly of humans and our rules. He also believed context and morality change over time, And rules should change with them. Much of his Anti-Federalism was based on the premise that laws should be alterable and even mutable.

2. Also a Jefferson point, This shows up in a draft of the Virginia constitution that he chiefly authored:

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements]. "

While this did not get ratified in this form, It suggests Jefferson immediately saw the need to set limits on gun rights and use. Jefferson in 1776 already saw reason to prevent concealed carry or the rights of citizens to possess a gun outside of their private property. Thus, Since Jefferson was already willing to reconsider the reach of a 2nd Amendment in his own time.

3. The biggest sponsor of the 2nd Amendment was James Madison. The entire basis and intent of the amendment was to emphasize the militia clause. The right to bear arms was fundamentally based on it. This is why it shows up first in the amendment as such:

"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. "

A well regulated militia within each state never fully came to fruition. States never became a physical check and balance for the federal government, Regardless of anyone's intention of making them so. If James Madison could see that the US failed to incorporate this idea successfully, He'd likely be willing to reconsider.

4. Federalists themselves were originally opposed to a 2nd Amendment and would remain so today based on how the country evolved. The issue of federal power is fundamentally different than it was when Madison sponsored this text. The interpretation of a free state, For one, Is far eroded from its original meaning. Power is very consolidated at a federal level. As the country progressed, It became clear that we needed to unite to participate in the global stage. Our credibility was secured by ensuring we weren't fighting against each other, But instead working together. This is actually tangentially related to the cause that Federalists were fighting for from the beginning.

5. This point also implicates all of the founding fathers, Both federalist and anti-federalists. They found other ways to concede power to states in the Bill of Rights, In part because they themselves had uncertainty and doubts about how this country would actually form. Redundancy is baked into the Bill of Rights, And states today retain power by largely managing their own affairs, And by participating in both the House and Senate legislative bodies.

6. The Bill of Rights was largely shaped by the context of 1789, One that is unrecognizable today. This quote from Richard Henry Lee is a good microcosm:

"A militia, When properly formed, Are in fact the people themselves, And render regular troops in a great measure unnecessary. "

Our national military grossly out powers any domestic militias. While opponents may argue that this military power could be distributed among militias, I find this point weak and illogical. First of all, The idea of militias scaling to be able to purchase aircraft carriers or jets is already a far stretch, And one that would actually favor cash rich "Federal" states over provincial states even if it were true (this would nullify the intent of antifederalist proponents of the bill). Secondly, If militias held that much power, They would defeat their original purpose. The entire point of militias is to: A. Represent civilians, And B. Prevent consolidation of power. A militia with 1/50th of the power of our national military would still realistically be massive and largely disconnected from citizens. Regardless of the likely objections our founding father's would have to our current military size and structure, They'd still be stuck considering whether or not the 2nd Amendment could achieve it's original goals.

7. War and power struggles have fundamentally changed. Nuclear weapons are the first point. Global leverage is largely acquired by the possession of nuclear weapons. This situation is already extremely dangerous, Which is why non-proliferation has been largely universally adopted, Prevent manufacturing of more nuclear weapons. The idea of state militias simply do not scale up to the current geopolitical power struggle, And enabling them to would only make the situation even more volatile. The entire face of war has become less about brute force, And more like a game of cards. Infantry is no longer a primary weapon, It is at best a pawn. Warfare is about presence, And sabotage. Often adversaries opt for hacking each other's computers, As this is far more effective in the grand scheme than troops on the ground are. The leverage militias may have once had is completely erased in today's international theater. Thus, Founding Fathers would be forced to reconsider the 2nd Amendment.

BONUS: **I chose to frame the argument this way because I think it dismisses this entire argument. **

We deify the founding fathers and lose sight of the fact that they were humans and equally fallible and capable of mistakes as we are. If our founding fathers were morally and intentionally pure, Slavery would be abolished upfront, Regardless of how much it cost the country to make that decision politically or economically.

This point suggests that we seek approval from equally fallible people when we defer to the founding fathers, Which nullifies this entire debate. However, It should be noted that the points above heavily describe how situational context in 1789 and prior largely shaped how and why the 2nd Amendment was ratified. We today, Are equally influenced by the present situational context, And are equally entitled to create or change laws based on that. Thomas Jefferson even said so, See point 1.


First place:
Even though some Federalists/founding fathers didn't want (/wanted a different wording) the 2nd amendment the majority of people in the Continental Congress did agree and signed it.

Second place:
It wasn't INTENDED to change with the times, New political philosophies, And modern philosophies.

The Founders conceived of the Constitution as a perpetual contract by and between the several states and including the People as parties. A contract does not "morph" with time. It's provisions remain unmoved by years or changes in fashion or public sentiment.

As an example: a deed is a type of contract. Perhaps the deed on your house which you inherited from your grandfather, Which was drawn up in 1875 ( a long time ago) described your West property line as being from a certain monument, Thence North 0 degrees West a distance of 500 feet. That's your deed, Your land, The distance is immutably fixed. Anyone who can read English at the second-grade level can understand it. You would think it outrageous for a neighbor to tell you " I need 50 more feet to build a swimming pool in my backyard where it butts up to your West property line. Your deed is old and needs to change with the times; lets "interpret " the clear words ""500 feet" as really meaning, In these modern times, "450 feet" ; that way I have space for my pool. "

You would see this new ""interpretation" as attacking YOUR rights-your neighbor, By word twisting is simply planning on stealing YOUR land.

Thats why the American Left and certain politicians since Woodrow Wilson, Have argued vigorously for the bizarre concept of the " Living Constitution; they can pretend to honor it but can twist it by "reinterpreting" the plain words to mean anything they want in favor of their current policy desires.

Second Place;

The idea that the Second Amendment just covers muskets and " surely the Founders didn't think of faster firing weapons " is ludicrous. The Founders were smart men. For this argument to even pretend to have merit, You must have me believe that they were idiots. They saw enormous advances in technology during their life times and they would have to have been absolute fools to believe that technology in any area would remain static. One earthshaking example- the naval chronometer of 1761, Allowed for precise navigation and surveying, Because accurate timekeeping was ( and is to this day) critical for celestial observation calculations of Longitude. Prior to that time, Because small clocks weren't very accurate, Long distance navigation was a by guess and by God crapshoot, With 50 mile errors not uncommon. James Watts steam engine of 1769 was well known, The submarine was invented by David Bushnell in 1776, He had offered this secret weapon to the Continental Navy.

One of the Founders, Namely Ben Franklin had contributed to the advance of technology personally. He designed the Franklin Stove as a more efficient, And easier to install and maintain, Home heating system-to replace open fire places. He is also credited with creating bi-focal glasses. Franklin received a Royal patent in 1752 for the Lightning Rod. Thomas Jefferson was engaged in scientific agriculture, As was George Washington.

Back to guns- As well educated and informed gentlemen, The Founders no doubt knew of The Puckle gun, A type of revolving quick firing cannon. This celebrated arm had been demonstrated to the Royal Navy in 1722. The breech-loading and thus much faster firing Ferguson Rifle had been employed by the British in the War for Independence, A few had fallen into American hands. Multi shot air guns, While uncommon, Were commonly known-Thomas Jefferson as President, Sent one on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Founders used the term "Arms " quite advisedly; they wanted the Second Amendment to be universal in Application and perpetual in its effect. They believed the ability of citizens to have arms little if any inferior to that of the regular paid soldiery was a bulwark against tyranny. Read George Mason. Tenche Coxe said ""their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, Are the birthright of an American".

A ""birth right" is fundamental and only death removes it. It does not ""dissolve with time", Nor is " every other terrible implement of the soldier" restricted in time. It will cover a Star Trek phaser in some distant future.


I find it again LUDICROUS that someone who is offering an opinion on a computer over a radio on a Wi-Fi network is confident that what he says is protected by the First Amendment because the First Amendment has advanced to cover not just printing presses but modern TV, Telephone, And radio and the Internet. That someone then makes the straight faced argument that the Second Amendment does not cover modern light infantry weapons because its old and does not cover new technology but Is limited to flintlock single shot muskets.
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1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by SchlongGoblin 3 years ago
Good argument Con, Looking forward to Pros response.
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