Piers Morgan has a great English accent, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t know much about the United States Constitution. Morgan is editorial director of First News, a national newspaper for children, and the host of CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. As with most of these show hosts, they aren’t very informed when it comes to history and logic.
Morgan got into a debate over gun control after Bob Costas went on his anti-gun rant following Jovan Belcher’s murder of his girlfriend and his later suicide.
Trying to add credibility to his anti-gun position, Morgan made reference to the United States Constitution. Here’s what he said:
“The Second Amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns and assault rifles. Fact.”
See if you can find this claim in the Second Amendment:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Even without this embedded constitutional right, we have the right to bear arms. Rights don’t come from the State. This point is not often made. The Constitution doesn’t say that we have a right to work or own property. The Second Amendment was included in the Constitution to ensure the already existing right to “keep and bear arms.” Morgan should study some of his own British history before he spouts off in America.
“The right to have arms in English history is believed to have been regarded as a long-established natural right in English law, auxiliary to the natural and legally defensible rights to life. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court remarked that at the time of the passing of the English Bill of Rights there was “‘clearly an individual right, having nothing whatsoever to do with service in the militia’ and that it was a right not to be disarmed by the crown and was not the granting of a new right to have arms.”
The Second Amendment doesn’t say what type of “arms” is included in the right to bear them. There’s a reason for this. Our founders knew that the definition of “arms” can change over time. What were “arms” in the 18th century differed from what would have been defined as “arms” in the 13th century. The Constitution was designed to be a document for the ages, not just for the late 18th century.
Following Morgan’s logic, the freedoms of speech and press found in the First Amendment should be limited to a town crier, horses and footmen to carry communiques, quill pens, and actual printing presses. This would mean setting type by hand, rolling ink ever the type, and pressing the paper on the raised letters, one sheet at a time. Since we don” press” paper over type today, therefore, to follow Morgan’s logic, we can’t appeal to the First Amendment’s right to “freedom of the press.”
If the Second Amendment was only for muskets, then it was also only for parchment and literal printing presses. Our founders knew better. Ideals transcend technology and innovation. Ideals are for the ages.
The six books I wrote in the 1980s were typeset electronically. Even so, the galley sheets still had to be pasted on boards so plates could be made. No one in the 18th century, or even in the last decade of the 20th century, could have conceived of printing exclusively with digits by way of a Portable Document Format — PDF.
Printing has made more technical advancements since the First Amendment was drafted than have “arms.” A founding father from the 18th century could easily recognize a modern-day handgun and rifle, but would be stymied by a laptop computer with software that is used to typeset a book with no hard type that could be turned into an electronic file that in the end could print a million copies of a book in days.