Is James Holmes Evil, Or Is He the Face of the U.S. Constitution?

The Aurora shooter exemplifies why the Second Amendment is deadly.

Here’s the bottom line: The Second Amendment is a Constitutional guarantee of the right of Americans to kill and injure each other. So maybe Colorado movie shooter James Holmes isn’t just a mass-murderer—maybe he’s the face of democracy, in roughly the same way that Larry Flynt is considered a hero of the First Amendment.

And if we don’t believe that, maybe it’s time to change the Constitution, or at least read it differently than we do now.

Extreme? Sure. But consider: The only purpose of a gun—the only purpose—is to kill or injure the person, animal, or object at which it is aimed. If there’s a secondary purpose to a gun, it’s to threaten death or injury in the direction it’s aimed. Ruinous violence is a gun’s sole reason for being, period.

It cannot then be the case that we grant Americans the nearly unmitigated right to own a gun, but expect and hope, essentially, that they will not use that gun. That’s like granting people a driver’s license and praying they stay off the roads. It’s illogical. So we cannot be surprised when people like Holmes walk into a movie theater and kill a dozen people, injuring scores more. It’s a completely natural outcome.

So maybe all the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are not equally worthy. Maybe “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” should be infringed, at least a little more than it is now.

Why? Easy: Just look at all the bodies. We in Philadelphia are particularly well-acquainted with the plague of gun violence. It’s true that Constitutional rights can sometimes be exercised in unsavory ways, and that we often learn to live with it as the price of freedom—but no other provision in the Bill of Rights leaves as much literal blood on the floor as the Second Amendment.

What are the arguments in favor of expansive gun rights? As I understand it, they boil down to these:

Self-defense: The “arm everybody” crowd came out of the woodwork after the Aurora shootings, making the case that these kinds of incidents could be prevented if only more civilians armed themselves and were capable of shooting back at an attacker.

Former Arizona lawmaker Russell Pearce summed up this line of thinking with a Saturday morning Facebook post. “Someone could have stopped this man. Lives were lost because of a bad man, not because he had a weapon, but because no one was prepared to stop it,” he wrote. “Had they been prepared to save their lives or lives of others, lives would have been saved.”

There’s some victim-blaming going on here, yes, but the underlying logic is circular: We must guarantee access to guns in order to defend ourselves against the lunatics who have access to guns. It’s very nearly a Monty Python parody.

The right of revolution: Basically, a fair number of Second Amendment lovers believe that an armed citizenry keeps its government from overstepping its bounds. That’s a huge reason that so many Democrats jumped to the (incorrect) conclusion that Tea Partiers shot Gabby Giffords in Arizona last year—when a movement’s mainstream politicians spend their time trumping “Second Amendment remedies” to Big Gubmint, it’s fair to wonder if that movement is actually making good on that threat.

I’ve got nothing against the right of revolution. But we’ve not had anything approaching a real armed rebellion in this country since 1865. Is it worth the day-to-day cost of maintaining that option? As tech writer Anil Dash said over the weekend, “We’ve let a fringe desire to preserve the possibility of armed insurrection against the federal government enable cheap, frequent mass murders.” He’s right. And that’s wrong.

• God said so: Here’s Ron Paul’s campaign website, using a common phrase. “Congressman Paul believes it has never been more important that our President be 100% committed to defending our God-given right to keep and bear arms.”

Of course, Jesus told his followers that if they were slapped, to turn the other cheek. He chastised Peter for unsheathing his sword in an act of (ahem) self-defense. Maybe Paul and his NRA allies heard the voice of some angry Greek warrior god?

The truth is, I’m not interested in completely doing away with the Second Amendment. The cat’s too far out of the bag, in any case, and the vast majority of American gun owners are law-abiding citizens, servants to their community, people who take the whole idea of self-government pretty seriously. They deserve to be taken seriously, too, instead of dismissed as “gun nuts.”

But there was a time—before Colorado massacres were a regular feature of the American landscape—when the National Rifle Association preserved gun rights, in part, by advocating for sensible regulations. There’s no way the NRA would return to such a stance now, which means there’s no chance they’ll be joined in renewed moderation by Republican legislators and conservative judges.

Which means that the Second Amendment—as currently interpreted by its most zealous defenders, including the Supreme Court—will continue to guarantee mayhem, broken communities, dead children, and the wailing tears of mothers. It ensures we have to endure the likes of James Holmes. That’s just the price of freedom, right?

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  • navdan3

    It would be easy to give in to the hyperbolic nature of the article…but I’ll try not to and instead answer some points plainly.

    First, I get that saying the Second Amendment is “a Constitutional guarantee of the right of Americans to kill and injure each other” is meant to draw attention more than anything else. It’s a right of self defense, specifically in this case, self defense from a tyrannical government. The right of self defense – something every living thing possesses by natural law – is not a right to hurt someone else or harm someone else. No true right requires you to take something from someone else; it is something an individual possesses simply by being alive. That’s all the Second Amendment is, except codified in the Constitution to ensure a corrupt, tyrannical government can never remove the citizens’ means from stopping it.

    The main purpose of a gun is destroy a target. In this country, for the law-abiding citizen, that target is almost exclusively paper or an animal. You know what else it’s for? Collection. It’s no stranger than a stamp collection or baseball card collection. Different strokes… It’s also for sport and competition. Many people enjoy the stamina, strength, and hand-eye coordination of competitive shooting. Because the extreme outlier of an evil person exists in any society is not a reason to remove the right to peaceably conduct oneself from every other citizen who chooses to do so. THAT is a tyrannical way of thinking — however well-intentioned.

    Now, when Christian’s refer to a God-given right (a term I wish they’d stop using because it puts many people off), in reality they’re referring to what a secular would think of as a natural born right. In reality, someone stating that the right to keep and bear arms is a God-given right, they’re meaning that the right to defend oneself is a natural born right, and it’s only right to be able to do so with the most reasonably effective way.

    My final comment, if anyone’s still reading, has to do with the Second Amendment being worth the cost of maintaining the ability to defend oneself against a tyrannical government. The reality is far less people are killed with guns than they are driving, or doing many other things. Even most killings (and this is a cynical way of thinking about it, I’ll admit) are committed amongst gang members and other people who are in a lifestyle where they are far from “innocent.” Any person who is even slightly reasonably informed has to admit that we live in a society with far less civil liberties than is Constitutionally permitted, liberties forcibly removed by overreaching local and federal governments in the name of safety, security, fairness, etc. Is it at a point where there should be armed resistance? I’d say of course not, as would most reasonable people. However, to think that it’s an occurrence that could never happen is a mistake that only those with no knowledge of history, or those whose falsely and arrogantly think we can never somehow meet the fate of those before, could make.

  • http://joelmathis.blogspot.com/ Joel Mathis

    Good and thoughtful comment. I’d like to respond to just one part, where I don’t think we’ll end up talking past each other. And it’s this comment. ” The reality is far less people are killed with guns than they are driving, or doing many other things. ”

    True. However. Deaths are an accidental byproduct of driving, not the purpose. That’s the same of just about every other activity you would name under the rubric of “many other things.”

    Guns? They’re made to kill. End of story. Sometimes they get used against paper targets, sure, but that’s not why they’re made, and that’s not why there’s a Constitutional amendment to protect gun possession, and it’s not why you’re defending that right. So guns are different.

  • navdan3

    Fair enough point. I appreciate the response.

  • chowarddiaz2012

    The headline written by Joel Mathis gives us the question and the answer.

    “Is James Holmes Evil, Or Is He the Face of the U.S. Constitution?”

    The answer to the writer’s question is simple, to any non political average American with common sense, James Holmes is evil. He may be evil for one or many reasons and one of them is surely that James Holmes is a nut. So there it is, James Holmes is not the face of the U.S. Constitution, he is evil.

    But a common sense answer isn’t what the writer wants. Joel Mathis wants to start his own personal campaign against one of the most basic of freedoms. The right a free people must have to defend themselves, so he attacks our Constitution. He attacks the Constitution not understanding the Constitution and Bill of Rights define political freedom for all American’s and the definition of freedom shall never change.

    There are those like Joel Mathis who don’t understand freedom or how we as American’s became a free nation and why our forefathers wrote the Bill of Rights. In my book “A Charter of Negative Liberties – Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary,” I point out the reason they wrote the Bill of Rights and why our Constitution and Bill of Rights remains the greatest documents ever written in the history of mankind.

    They wrote the Bill of Rights to insure the newly created federal government would noy misconstrue or abuse it’s very limited authority authorized to it by the Constitution. In the preamble of the Bill of Rights, they tell us why they wrote it.

    But the writers real reason for writing the article isn’t revealed in the headline question, it’s the next, smaller print sub-headline that he’s really all about:

    “The Aurora shooter exemplifies why the Second Amendment is deadly”

    So he skips over the headline question, that has an easy common sense answer, and instead makes a statement launching his attacks on the Second Amendment and all things relating to any American having the right to bear arms.

    He reminds me of the Detroit councilman, who when confronted with the fact that most drug dealers conduct their business from public pay phones, proposed to have all public pay phones removed.

    Throughout history there have been those who support gun ban laws and if they can’t accept a common sense answer they must have another reason for supporting a ban on guns.

    Politically driven people did it in China. They did it in Romania. They did it in the Soviet Union. And the most famous politician of all did it in Germany. In 1928 the little paperhanger started with having all guns and gun owners registered. All gun owners were required to have a Firearms Owner Identity Card with the owners’ fingerprints and photo.

    A short 10 years later, in 1938, the Nazi Weapons Law was passed to confiscate all handguns, shotguns, rifles and probably people.

    So it’s easy for me to believe politicians want to ban guns, but they still think we are stupid enough to eventually buy on to gun control if they keep repeating “Guns kill people” using a thousand different scenarios.

    Didn’t someone else say something about it if you repeat a lie enough times the sheep will believe it?

    I prefer to agree with the following two gentlemen and their thoughts on gun ownership.

    James Madison said, “Americans have the right and advantages of being armed-unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

    George Washington- “Firearms stand next to the Constitution itself…The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference-they (GUNS) deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.” (Emphasis added.) Thanks to James and George.

    So, sorry Joel, I don’t buy any of your supposed reasoning for damning our Constitution or Bill of Rights and I believe most American’s don’t either.

    C Howard Diaz, author “A Charter of Negative Liberties, Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary

  • peter1

    With all due respect to Mr. Diaz, “James” and “George” would be wondering who taught a man with the last name “Diaz” to read and write, and asking who owns Mr. Diaz.

    The reason our Founding Fathers left room in the Constitution for it to be amended is because as society evolves and technology changes, our Constitution needs to be changed accordingly. It’s the reason why we can no longer own slaves and women can vote, etc.

    I firmly believe that IF “James” and “George” could have possibly conceived of the power of assault weapons, with the ability to kill dozens of people in seconds, and the ease with which a lunatic can get his or her hands on them, they’d have said, “well, that’s why we left you idiots the ability to amend this document.”

    There is a substantial difference between banning hunting rifles and 10-bullet clip (even automatic) handguns and assault weapons. Substantial. And if you can’t see the difference, then you are too entrenched in your beliefs to be rational about the issue.

    It’s probably just a coincidence that murder rates in this country dropped about 35% after the assault weapons ban in 1994, huh? I know there were other factors, but don’t you think it played a role?

  • suburbdog1

    Oh for God’s sake, the Bill of Rights was written over 200 years ago! How could the Founding Fathers have imagined AK-47’s, Uzi’s, drive-by shootings and the perversion of the 2nd Amendment by Gun Nuts who want people to have the right to buy 100 guns a month! Sure, I say let every American have 1 gun – THAT’s it! Outlaw the sale of semi- automatics. I don’t care about collectors. Under Federal Law an “Antique” gun is any gun made before 1899 – allow people to buy as many of them as they can afford. And outlaw Gun Shows!! You can’t buy Ammonium Nitrate without the government asking questions, why on earth should it be allowed to buy a firearm (or most likely firearms) at a Gun Show without a background check!

  • chowarddiaz2012

    In my book I point out the following:
    Start except
    “The Constitution does not say it is against the law to rob a bank. The Constitution does not say it is against the law to murder your neighbor. The Constitution does not say it is against the law to sell or use drugs. It does not say anyone has to believe in God or be a Christian. It does not say anything about marriage, nor does the Bill of Rights.

    The Bill of Rights does not say these things because these are moral issues, and the Bill of Rights was not written to address moral issues. The Bill of Rights was written to address political freedom for the people and to set limits of power for a federal government. I cannot stress enough that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are political documents, not a moral ones.

    Moral issues are covered by an individual’s conscience and religion and by laws passed by local or state communities and can change as the moral culture changes, for better or for worse. What I mean is, from the federal government’s perspective, moral issues are not addressed in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, and ergo those issues are off limits to the federal government.

    Over time, as morality changes, it is the laws enacted by the people at the community, county, and state level that are intended to handle changes in moral values. If the people of California vote to approve or ban gay marriage, the Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to intervene for or against it. Marriage is not a political freedom issue. Likewise, the federal government has not been granted the power to impose itself upon any state policy regarding murder, robbery, drugs, or any other issue of moral law.

    Therefore it is given:

    The Bill of Rights was written to protect the states’ and the people’s political freedom from a federal government and the Bill of Rights is not a moral values document.”
    End excerpt from “A Charter of Negative Liberties – Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary”

    It doesn’t make any difference if there are now AK-47’s or anything else you want to bring up, the Constitution and Bill of Rights define political freedom in America.

    Yes, you can amend it, but that’s why they made amending it so difficult. As for as being written over 200 years ago,the definition of freedom shall never change and only a tyrant would want to do so. Check any dictatorship in history, present or past, and you will see a government that took weapons away from the people.

    If anyone really wants to know how “Diaz” got taught and that no one owns “Diaz”, read my book.

  • navdan3

    peter1,

    While we’re speculating as to what our Founding Fathers would think is appropriate, I’d guess that logically it would be opposite of your idea.

    Follow me: The Second Amendment was written to protect the pre-existing right of self defense against a possible tyrannical government (none of the Bill of Rights *gives* us rights, they simply codify rights that each of us are entitled to as human beings). The arms that the founding members of our country used were the same available to the militaries.

    I think the Founding Fathers possessed the wisdom of memory and history, and would likely understand that at no point in time in any society can we be guaranteed that any given government won’t devolve into the tyrannical, rights-denying one that they faced.

    The Second Amendment, then, in spirit, would absolutely permit us not only the current weapons legally available to us, but ALL military weapons that can be used without *unreasonable* potential for collateral damage to innocent civilians. Therefore, actual automatic machines guns and assault weapons (not the semi-automatic rifles that the ignorant mistakenly claim are “assault weapons”) would be legal. Any means of arms that can allow for reasonable discrimination between enemy targets and civilians would be legal in the spirit of the Second Amendment. And, I think that the Founding Fathers – being much less short-sighted than present company – would probably think so to. Of course, that’s just my reasoned conjecture based on an actual understanding of the Bill of Rights and the context with which it was written.

  • s0phi0n

    If you want competitive shooting, try paintball. Its even proven effective for self defense!

  • peter1

    I do understand the arguments of both Mr. Diaz and navdan3, but I hope that you do understand mine. The guns around during the times of our Founding Fathers were ones like muskets, which took about 15 seconds to load and had lousy aim. Which meant that if you took a shot at me and missed, I had the ability to grab club, charge you, and beat you to death. Roughly four shots per minute. The rate of fire of an UZI is 600 rounds per minute, a mere 150 times faster. The first machine gun (automatic weapon) wasn’t invented until most of our Founding Fathers were in the ground for 50 years. Now, if you want to arm every American with a musket, I’m game.

    And it doesn’t require a Constitution Amendment to ban certain types of weapons for non-military use, if your primary concern is the will of our forefathers.

  • navdan3

    peter1, I see your concern. However, it doesn’t at all acknowledge or address my last point. To meet the intention of the Second Amendment (a civilian populace’s ability to protect itself against the threat of reality of a tyrannical government), a musket would be absurd. Yes, muskets worked as the arms of the day during the Revolution because that was essentially the most advanced weapon available to everyone.

    The natural born right of self-defense, codified and guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, is absolutely not met by offering everyone a musket. Not only will someone not be able to adequately protect themselves from an armed home invader who has no regard for the law or the homeowner’s right to begin with, but they won’t be able to defend themselves against any agent of a tyrannical government, intent on usurping the citizens’ personal freedoms or liberty.

  • chowarddiaz2012

    I agree navdan3, the second amendment must be understood and interpreted in the context of why it was written. In fact before anyone can interpret any amendment in the Bill of Rights the reader must understand why it was written.

    Again from my book, “A Charter of Negative Liberties – Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary,

    Begin excerpt:
    The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution and was ratified on December 15, 1791.

    To understand the meaning of the Bill of Rights, we must first remind ourselves of why our forefathers wrote it. As each amendment is read, we must keep in mind the reason it was written. To interpret the Bill of Rights in any other context is to undermine its true meaning. Most of the amendments are directly linked to charges made against King George in the Declaration of Independence.

    I believe our forefathers tried to tell us why they wrote the Bill of Rights by including the reason in the first clause of the Preamble. It is as if they knew that someday there would be a federal government that would take the entire concept of a people having a constitution, which defines the organizational structure of the federal government, with its limited authority, and misconstrue it and abuse it.

    Clause one of the Preamble to the Bill of Rights:

    THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent the misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

    So why was it written? One phrase tells us: “in order to prevent the misconstruction or abuse of its powers.”

    With this phrase, our forefathers were telling us why they wrote the Bill of Rights. They feared the possibility of anyone incorrectly interpreting (“misconstruction”) the Constitution. They also did not want any misconstruction to lead to the federal government abusing its limited powers.

    They wrote the Bill of Rights to protect the “political freedom” of the people from the newly created federal government.
    End excerpt

    If you read the second amendment in this context you will understand our Forefathers never gave the federal government any authority to restrict any American from owning arms in the original Constitution. With the Second Amendment they made it more clear. The right to bear arms was a right to defend ourselves from the possibility of a future federal government that might turn into a King George, not to go hunting.

    With all the talk of our right to bear arms we are distracted from the true cause of a James Holmes and why he did what he did. Maybe he was full of the legal drugs they give children in public schools today. You might want to watch an excellent documentary “The War on Kids” to see what our public school system is doing to our kids. (On the Documentary Channel)

    According to that documentary the Columbine shooter was full of those drugs and so was the girl who hung herself. I’m not suggesting James Holmes was, but I am saying he and his mental issues was the true cause of this horrific event. Why not spend more time finding out what that was instead of politicizing our second amendment rights.

  • disqus_y12QfNwMDK

    The answer to the writer’s question is simple, to any non
    political average American with common sense, James Holmes is evil. He may be evil for one or many reasons and one of them is surely that James Holmes is a nut. So there it is, James Holmes is not the face of the U.S. Constitution, he is evil.

    But a common sense answer isn’t what the writer wants. Joel Mathis wants to start his own personal campaign against one of the most basic of freedoms. The right a free people must have to defend themselves, so he
    attacks our Constitution. He attacks the Constitution not understanding the Constitution and Bill of Rights define political freedom for all American’s and the definition of freedom shall never change.

    There are those like Joel Mathis who don’t understand
    freedom or how we as American’s became a free nation and why our forefathers wrote the Bill of Rights. In my book “A Charter of Negative Liberties – Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary,” I point out the reason they wrote the Bill of Rights and why our Constitution and Bill of Rights remains the greatest documents ever written in the history of mankind.

    They wrote the Bill of Rights to insure the newly created
    federal government would not misconstrue or abuse it’s very limited authority authorized to it by the Constitution. In the preamble of the Bill of Rights, they tell us why they wrote it.

    But the writer’s real reason for writing the article isn’t
    revealed in the headline question, it’s the next, smaller print sub-headline that he’s really all about:

    “The Aurora shooter exemplifies why the Second Amendment is deadly”

    So he skips over the headline question, that has an easy
    common sense answer, and instead makes a statement launching his attacks on the Second Amendment and all things relating to any American having the right to bear arms.

    He reminds me of the Detroit councilman, who when
    confronted with the fact that most drug dealers conduct their business from public pay phones, proposed to have all public pay phones removed.

    Throughout history there have been those who support gun ban laws and if they can’t accept a common sense answer they must have another reason for supporting a ban on guns.

    Politically driven people did it in China. They did it in
    Romania. They did it in the Soviet Union. And the most famous politician of all did it in Germany. In 1928 the little paperhanger started with having all guns and gun owners registered. All gun owners were required to have a Firearms Owner Identity Card with the owners’ fingerprints and photo.

    A short 10 years later, in 1938, the Nazi Weapons Law was passed to confiscate all handguns, shotguns, rifles and probably people.

    So it’s easy for me to believe politicians want to ban
    guns, but they still think we are stupid enough to eventually buy on to gun control if they keep repeating “Guns kill people” using a thousand different scenarios.

    Didn’t someone else say something about it if you repeat a lie enough times the sheep will believe it?

    I prefer to agree with the following two gentlemen and
    their thoughts on gun ownership.

    James Madison said, “Americans have the right and
    advantages of being armed-unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

    George Washington- “Firearms stand next to the Constitution itself…The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference-they (GUNS) deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
    (Emphasis added.) Thanks to James and George.

    So, sorry Joel, I don’t buy any of your supposed reasoning for damning our Constitution or Bill of Rights and I believe most American’s don’t either.

    C Howard Diaz, author “A Charter of Negative Liberties,
    Defining the Bill of Rights and Other Commentary