From another thread:
I put what is probably the most important bit of that post in bold. What's interesting is that the rest of the post proceeds to miss just what that protection means. Note, by the way, the word "protection" -- it implies what is assumed by all the amendments in the Bill of Rights, namely that rights are not granted by government, but exist apart from it, and it is the job of the government to protect them; in fact, it is the primary job of government to do so.Originally Posted by snapcat
The key word in the Second Amendment is "infringed". Today it has become primarily a legal term, so we miss the meaning -- which is easy enough to illustrate:
Think of pictures of eighteenth-century frontiersmen -- they frequently had clothes with a row of sort of losse heavy-duty threads hanging off, what were actually the ends of leather cords evenly spaced. A "fringe" is "a decorative edge of hanging narrow strips of material or threads on a piece of clothing or material"; today they're found more on tablecloths than anywhere, or on bedspreads or shawls. So "to infringe" means to touch or intrude on the fringe.
Note that the fringe is not critical to the garment (or tablecloth, etc.); it is extraneous, for looks more than anything. That gives a clue as to what the Constitution's writers meant by the term "infringe": to not even mess with totally peripheral issues. The purpose was to be certain that the actual substance of the right never got even bothered -- something clearly understood in America for generations.
So what the amendment means is "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be even remotely bothered in the least".
The meaning of that is plain: no restrictions or hindrances of any kind can be placed on the right to keep and bear arms. Any law that has anything to do with the ability of a member of "the people" to keep and/or bear arms is flat-out unconstitutional. Essentially that boils down to this simple rule: there can't be any laws about gun ownership, acquisition, transport, or any such thing; in fact, if what the Founding Fathers wrote elsewhere is taken into account, any law that mentions guns at all is unconstitutional -- because it intrudes on the fringe, on the non-essential but protected part of the matter.
So rules about sales at gun shows are out, without a doubt. In the face of the word the Constitutional convention and the states which ratified chose, there isn't any maneuvering room on this; at guns shows, flea markets, county fairs, barber shops, K-Mart, or a downtown street corner, there can't be any rules or restrictions, at all, period.
And rules about how many a person can buy in some arbitrary time period, or waiting before a purchase can be completed, or even background checks, aren't allowed: those matters are part of the fringe. Taxes, fees, licenses -- not legitimate (the Supreme Court has ruled on more than one occasion that anything having to do with a Constitutional right cannot be linked to payment of money).
In fact, there isn't any law on the books in this country that says anything about guns, unless it adds protection to the Constitutional one, which has any legal standing under the supreme law of the land.
One thing people don't get here is that the words in the Second Amendment are the strongest of any protection in the Bill of Rights. "... shall not be infringed" is more powerful and all-encompassing than the more common "shall make no law", because it includes matters not even directly related. People fight with all their might, and go to jail, for their First Amendment rights, regularly. But the protection offered by the Second Amendment goes much farther than the broad interpretations won by those efforts for freedom of speech and of the press. Laws now on the books for firearms, if applied to the press, would mean every writer and reported for any media would have to undergo a background check, often submit to training, be fingerprinted, and pay a fee every year or two, just to be allowed to exercise "freedom of the press". Applied to freedom of speech, those laws would require us to wait three days, or have a license, or stay outside city limits, in order to state our opinions on anything. Would Americans ever stand for such oppression? Hardly -- and yet in very fact we do, every day, with respect to our right to dignity and "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"!
If I can't carry the weapon of my choice in the fashion I prefer wherever I decide I ought to, I have no right to life, because anyone who wishes to can attack me and kill me, because I cannot defend myself. My dignity as a person has been denied if those things -- if any of those things! -- is true, because such rules deny that my life has value. If I wish to be safe, then, I must hide -- avoid areas where there might be risk, don't go out during hours when the lawless roam, all to keep my life... but then I have no liberty; my life is fenced about by the lawless, both those on the streets and those who have decreed that I should be a victim. Under such constraints, wherein is any happiness? If a person can be happy in such circumstances, he/she is a sorry sort of man; rather, ought to be considered a mouse, in a cage, happily pretending the bars aren't there.
That the Founding Fathers chose to make this the strongest amendment of all, the most heavy-duty protection, speaks volunes about the matter's importance. In context of their wording, Charleton Heston was correct: this was the most important of the amendment's, guarding what is justifiably called "America's First Freedom" -- which it is, historically; it is the exercise of that freedom that made America.
And today's indifference to the regular and methodical infringement of that right speaks a multiplicity of volumes about what has happened to the great experiment launched in 1776: we are, truly, no longer a nation of free persons, we are rather what the title of a valuable book says, A Nation of Cowards. We will stand up for our comforts, our special privileges, our government money (taken from other people!), but we will not stand up for the one thing that guards our personal dignity: the right to keep and bear arms.