In the on-going debate over the interpretation of the Second Amendment, the argument FOR gun control laws of any kind has been the “Founding Fathers were living in a different world and a different time, when guns were a necessity to survival and military strength was simply gathering citizens to defend the country.” The logic is, the Founding Fathers could not know the issues they were presenting to us with such an open-ended invitation to “bear arms” since they could not anticipate the direction of our society. And usually, it is liberal-minded people who oppose the guns, and conservative-minded people who claim the right.
Moving on to today’s debate. Immigration and “birthright” citizenship. The irony, of course, is that this is also the part of the Constitution that is being debated in the matters of Arizona v. the United States, and in the legal challenges to Fremont’s ordinance. This time, the conservative-minded people question if the Founding Fathers could anticipate our modern problems, and the liberal-minded people want the Constitution left intact.
Three Republicans from the Midlands, Adrian Smith and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska (our more rural areas) and Steve King of Iowa, have voiced the opinion that ending birthright citizenship should be considered as an option.
King is quoted saying, “It’s a big magnet, it attracts illegals. If we’re going to shut off the jobs magnet, we need to shut off the citizenship magnet, too, …We’re a welfare state today and the drafters and ratifiers of the 14th Amendment didn’t contemplate a welfare state that would be a giant magnet for people to come here to cash in to this giant ATM called America.”
Lee Terry, the third Republican representative from Omaha’s second district, wants to study the birthright issue, but it is “worthy of discussion”. We’ll assume the constituency of Omaha impacts the worthiness of that study.
Also withholding a stand is Senator Ben Nelson. “If there’s a serious effort to change the Constitution, then we ought to look at it, but my sense is that it’s being drummed up by talk show hosts and others, he told reporters recently.
Senator Mike Johanns wants to consult legal experts because he does not “take lightly the idea of changing the Constitution.”
In reality, this is the point, I suppose. Article 5 of the Constitution. Whenever 2/3 of both houses of Congress, and 3/4 of the states agree, the Constitution can be amended. Whether we’re talking guns, immigration, liquor (for and against) or ending slavery, the wisdom in the Founding Fathers was not in their ability to anticipate the challenges of the modern world; but in creating the means to act and change our Constitution with the strength of our commitment to fixing our laws.
We can argue the points all day, and we can try to squeeze meanings out of the Constitution that aren’t there through questionable laws and activist courts; but the one certainty is, if we could agree on anything, we can actually change the Constitution to say what we want, without interpreting 200-year old text and culture.
All it takes is commitment and leadership. The Founding Fathers had plenty of that.