Friday, September 27, 2013

The Second Amendment In Polish

The great little web site Watching America that I link to on the right side has posted a column from the Polish media that probably explains better than the US media can the context the Second Amendment was written in and how its meaning and intent are warped by right wing fanatics.

At Watching America volunteers translate articles and opinion columns from around the world that have to do with the US. You get a glimpse of what others are thinking about us and often insights that haven't occurred to the US media.

This column was written in the wake of the Washington DC shipyard mass killing and comes from TOK FM, a news and talk station that broadcasts throughout Poland and has articles and blogs on its web site. (If you know how to use Google translate you can get an idea of who they are. I couldn't get the translated page to copy in the link.)

TOK FM, Poland

After Another Massacre in the US:
In What Way American Right
Doesn’t Understand Constitution

By Filip Grzelak
Translated By Michał Bolek 19 September 2013
Edited by Heather Martin

Poland - TOK FM - Original Article (Polish)

Police statistics show that 260 shootings in which four or more people died took place in America since the beginning of this year (around 290 days). Only the most spectacular murders from the last years are shown on the first pages of newspapers or on the TV: Washington Navy Yard from this year (13 victims), the school Sandy Hook in Newtown in 2012 (20 children and 6 adult victims), the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. in 2012 (12 victims), Tucson in 2011 (6 victims and a bullet in a member of Congress’ head), Virginia Tech in 2007 (32 victims), the school in Columbine, Colo. in 1999 (12 students and a teacher) …

However, even despite the subsequent shocking massacres, a large segment of public opinion believes that access to guns shouldn’t be limited in America. Americans who believe this cite the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t know the text of this amendment precisely and base their interpretation on right-wing, conservative politicians and lobbyists from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1791, is quite short. It says: “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.”

The historical context in which the amendment was passed is essential to understand it. In the time of colonial America, every free man had a duty to serve in the local militia of his community. The task of militia was to defend the community from conflicts with — depending on the region — Native Americans, Catholic Frenchmen and Spaniards, as well as black slave rebellions. The militia was also supposed to maintain order and social hierarchy. However, it wasn’t a democratic organization in which every member could decide on anything. It was local principals — local authorities, planters and merchants — who were in charge of militia units and provided them with weapons. For example, during the war of the colonists and the British with Frenchmen and Native Americans in the 1750s, it was a young planter and aristocrat from somewhere on the Potomac River who was in charge of some militia units from Virginia — George Washington.

So the Second Amendment to the Constitution is about a right to a “well-regulated militia” — not for “a citizen” or “an individual” — to carry a weapon. America in 1791 had neither military forces nor police units, nor any local units of a National Guard that could defend Americans from danger. Must Americans today also be afraid of war with Frenchmen, Native Americans, invasion by the British or a slave rebellion, and carry a weapon?

Only the American extreme right, obsessed with fear and hatred of the federal government — especially of the “crypto-Muslim and terrorist” Barack Hussein Obama — calls for the citizens’ right to have unlimited amount of weapons and ammunition. The extreme right believes that if the federal government imposes dictatorship and abolishes the Constitution, the citizens who have weapons will be able to militarily repel the attack of the U.S. Army and victoriously fight against tyranny. Though it sounds incredible and downright psychopathic, unfortunately a part of Americans really believe in such a possibility and are preparing for war with their own government. 


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