Taking a Stand in favor of an Updated Second Amendment.
Posted July 22, 2022:
On July 19th, one member of the Tompkins County Legislature placed on the Agenda a Resolution he admitted some might view as “indulgent.” I don’t believe it was. I took to the microphone at the start of that night’s meeting and spoke to the issue. I spoke from my heart. I made it clear I spoke for myself only; not for my constituents, or for the office I hold. Here’s what I said:
“I’m at this meeting to commend courage; one man’s courage; one of your member’s courage. And I hope that maybe before this evening is over, that courage will become contagious, and that it will be unanimous courage by this Legislature.
“I suppose a political consultant would say, ‘Bob, you’re—this is the stupidest thing you ever did. You’re up for reelection next year. And you’re broaching a toxic substance—a real toxic issue—namely the Second Amendment.’
“And I frankly don’t care. Because frankly, I’d rather lose an election than lose one more young life to senseless violence.
“Rich John, member of your Legislature, has proposed a Resolution tonight. He filed it as an individual. It would rewrite the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. His proposed rewrite is:
‘The people shall have a right to keep and bear Arms. The reasonable regulation of that right shall be delegated to the federal government and the individual States.’
“That’s not repealing the Second Amendment. That is, in my estimation, simplifying it, modernizing it, and clarifying it. It gets rid of that 18th Century baggage about ‘militias,’ which is subject to conflicting interpretations. It is consistent with what used to be, anyway, the Gold Standard of constitutional jurisprudence of the Second Amendment, which was the Heller decision [District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008]. Of course, that’s changed in recent weeks. And now we’re increasingly at risk.
“I’ll let members debate the fine points of this Resolution. But I urge you to support it tonight. I commend courage. And I hope that we will have courage tonight.
“Thank you very much.”
I’d intended to share one more thought that night. Rules limit speakers to three minutes. In retrospect, I’d have had the time. Here’s what I would have added:
“I know this Resolution is symbolic. Will Congress adopt it? Probably not. It’ll likely be dead on arrival. But sometimes it makes a difference to take a stand. It makes us feel better, in any event. And it does one more thing. It lights that one little candle. And better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness.”
I believe that’s true.
The Tompkins County Legislature later that evening endorsed Rich John’s Second Amendment revision. Members voted along party lines; Democrats in the majority.