Opinion » Bill Cope

It's Junk, That's What!

'What does Cope have against the Second Amendment?'


A few weeks ago, my editor received a brief response to a blog I'd written (Mr. Cope's Cave, "Another Stupid Thing Gun Nuts Do," July 13, 2015), and my editor forwarded it to moi. In total, the response read: "Hey Zach—You can tell Cope his column was incorrect. The Senate was in recess when Crapo visited Greenleaf. Not sure what he has against the Second Amendment!"

It all had to do with a commentary I'd made on—what I consider to be—a publicity stunt a Greenleaf city councilman has been running since 2006, when he ushered through a city ordinance that encouraged every town resident to own a firearm. Recently, this village official arranged a photo-op with Sen. Mike Crapo and himself showing off a road sign—conveniently provided by the same councilman—meant to alert travelers that Greenleaf is not a "gun free zone." In case, I suppose, anyone motoring through Outer Canyon County should be in doubt.

I wondered why Sen. Crapo was traipsing around pea-sized municipalities promoting ridiculous mini-events when there were such maxi-matters to attend to back in Washington, and that truly was my error, as the note to my boss pointed out. I apologize for that. Considering this Congress is in recess about three times more often than it's in session, I should always assume that it's in recess unless I have specific information to the contrary.

That apology, though, is not why I'm turning the note into a column. The writer implied a legitimate question—What do I have against the Second Amendment?—and I'm glad he presented me with the opportunity to answer it.

After years of arguing that canker sore on the Constitution should be more about "well-regulated militias"—known in modern times as "armies" and "police forces"—and less about the entitlement of obsessive hillbillies and disordered personalities to get their hands on whichever firearms their limited minds take a fancy to, I have come to the conclusion that the amendment in its entirety is junk. Archaic, corrosive, lethal, junk. And the sacrifice we make by not treating it as such is the 30,000-plus casualty count America suffers year after year after year.

It is not the only piece of once-functional fruit gone bad still hanging on in our Constitution. The Electoral College should have been dumped the day telegraph lines were installed. And whatever wording the Roberts Court found in the First Amendment that prompted it to declare unlimited campaign donations a function of free speech is so obviously flawed, only those individuals wealthy enough to give unlimited campaign donations would not see it as such.

But nothing quite compares to the Second Amendment for the irreparable damage it has done, and the potential, unimaginable, damage it implies might yet be done. The obsessive hillbillies and disordered personalities have yet to pursue the full range of options the amendment—as interpreted by them—would allow, but I fear it's only a matter of time. After all, the thing was written based on 18th century realities. Pre-manufactured ammunition had yet to be invented, as had any sort of repeating rifles, tanks, warplanes, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, submarines, attack helicopters and tactical nukes. How unreasonable is it to image that any Supreme Court that could entitle corporate entities to the same inalienable rights as individual citizens could also be capable of defining an ICBM as one of the "arms" the citizenry has a "right to keep and bear?"

Fortunately, for most of those obsessive hillbillies and disordered personalities, an ICBM, along with everything else I mentioned after "repeating rifles," is out of their price range. Yet in this gilded age, when multi-billionaires are so often hard to tell apart from obsessive hillbillies and disordered personalities, how long will it be before a Sheldon Adelson or Donald Trump decides an Apache, a Trident or a Tomahawk missile is indispensable for their self-protection?

Who's to stop them?

The framers of the Constitution bequeathed us an organic and flexible guide—as evidenced by the mechanisms they provided to amend and expand it as realities change. We can't fault them for being unable to foresee that 230 years later their words might be putting weapons of mass destruction into the hands of our present-day disgruntled neighbors, disturbed loners and deranged radicals, any more than I would have expected them to anticipate the right of free expression would lead to "Grand Theft Auto" and Fifty Shades of Grey.

They obviously weren't obsessive, or they never could have agreed on such a sweeping collection of laws, and I refuse to believe they would have expected us to stick to the dictates of their document as gospel, or that the 27 words of that clumsily written amendment was more indispensable than the lives those words have caused to be lost.

If they were half as smart as we give them credit for, and were magically made aware of our modern plague of gun violence, I'm confident they would be the first to question what the hell are we thinking!?... allowing military-grade weaponry into the hands of civilians.