The Constitution of the United States of America is an incredible document, written by trailblazers, setting forth the laws of the land. The struggles for freedom and equality in a newborn nation prompted 39 men to join together to create a set of rules by which an entire nation could be governed fairly. Their desire to find the perfect words and ideas to set upon paper are, forever, a witness to the morals and values of all whose signatures grace the document, and it is the reason why we honor it today. That being said, it is also important to recognize that the drafters of the Constitution were, like all other men, imperfect, and so therefore is the document they created.
If we had the ability to speak with the writers of our most cherished guidelines, they would direct us to Article V of the Constitution which provides for a constantly changing nation. In fact, they would probably be shocked at some of the interpretations of the document they put together so long ago and might even suggest that some changes should be made to reflect the evolution of our great nation.
The Constitution consists of 27 Amendments, and the first ten are known as the Bill of Rights. It is these first ten Amendments that most people are most concerned with and about which there is so much debate.
The First Amendment
The First Amendment of the Constitution grants many of the rights that our democracy is known for. Freedom of speech, perhaps our sweetest right, is used by everyone. Many would argue that the creators probably considered this to be the most fundamental right of all citizens and wrote it in to make sure that everyone would always be able to express their opinions about any important issue, without fear of retribution. But did these men of freedom intend that this right be used to attack, degrade or incite others? What would they think of the freedom of speech being used to spew malicious, vile, slanderous and libelous language by today’s politicians?
The Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms, was, no doubt, very necessary back in 1787, when times were turbulent and life was uncertain. However, in the late 1700s, the most common weapons used were muskets, such as the Brown Bess, and other single-shot shotguns. There were no automatic weapons or rapid-fire machine guns, nor did anyone have the ability to blow up giant buildings, nor were there any giant buildings. Additionally, the writers of the Second Amendment obviously felt that it might be necessary to protect themselves with a regulated militia in order to secure their lives and a free state, because such were the times.
Americans no longer live in a time where they must defend themselves against the government. Nevertheless, the National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization that promotes gun ownership and who lobbies for gun manufacturers and distributors, uses the Second Amendment to further their cause. They fill their members’ heads with the nonsensical notion that they may need to protect themselves from the government. The idea that a group of Americans could, in today’s time, successfully defend themselves from the powerful weapons of our government, is absurd. This is a very good example of how the NRA convinces its members to spend more and more money on guns, while ensconcing themselves in the Second Amendment. It is very likely that the men who signed the Constitution would be appalled at the gun violence in our society today and at how an organization whose sole purpose is to make money for big gun manufacturers, has managed to use the Second Amendment to further its agenda. One must wonder what Madison would think of his words being used and twisted for monetary gain?
There are seven Articles in the Constitution and they make up the main body of the document. The purpose of the Articles is to explain how the set of laws work. Our Founding Fathers knew full well that, as life changes, so should the laws by which we live. It is for this reason that they wrote Article V, which gives Congress the right to propose changes called Amendments, and it is this Article which makes our Constitution a living, breathing document for future generations to update accordingly.