I made a rookie mistake last week. As I sat at my kitchen table eating dinner, I absentmindedly went through the social media apps on my phone until I ended up on Facebook.
Here I saw a post from a friend of a friend of a friend (let’s be clear on degree of separation) commenting on the shooting at YouTube headquarters.
The post asked whether we should hold PETA accountable since the shooter, Nasim Aghdam, was a devoted Vegan. The logic was since some hold the NRA accountable for the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida we should hold PETA accountable for Aghdam’s actions.
Now, I know I should have kept scrolling and moved on with my life. Instead I started a debate about the second amendment and how this comparison made no sense.
I quickly realized my replies were pointless, but in arguing the sanctity of the Constitution I realized what the divide between our philosophies was.
I don’t care what the founders would think about current events. Furthermore, I think it’s time to stop treating their opinions and the Constitution as fact.
If anything, it seems crazy to me that we place so much value in the views of men who died over 200 years ago.
This is not to say that I believe they were dumb or to take away from the face that they tried to create a fair form of government. However, as years go by their words seem to be treated as the word of God, rather than men who were trying their best to create order out of chaos.
In recognizing their accomplishments we should also recognize their faults and treat them as humans rather than prophets.
Let’s not forget that the Constitution was a second attempt meant to replace the Articles of Confederation .
After the original 13 colonies declared independence, the Founding Fathers created the Articles, but quickly realized that they were ineffective. In their efforts to create a government that could not become too powerful, they created one that had little to no authority to enforce its laws.
This misstep created the need for a stronger government, which led to the Constitution.
If the framers were able to admit their mistakes, how can we say that the Constitution is not up for revision or clarification?
Even the Constitution itself was not universally approved when it was first drafted. The Bill of Rights was drafted to appease the portion of the framers who objected to a stronger government, the Anti-Federalists, who wanted assurances of individual and state rights.
All this points to a contentious battle between a group of people unsure of how to create a system that could adequately govern an entire country.
Yet, some still cling to the document’s original text as a perfect and pristine document.
We also have to acknowledge that the Founding Fathers weren’t able to predict future problems, nor should they have been expected to. At a certain point, we have to consider the need to develop our own laws without worrying about how the Founding Fathers would have felt.
I’m not saying we need to completely ignore the intentions of the founders. The laws they created are the reason that we can enjoy many of the freedoms that we have as a country.
But what happens when our values or needs evolve past our forebearers? If we had stayed true to their original vision, we would never have ended slavery or granted women the right to vote.
The fact is that we can’t treat the Constitution as a static article. Instead we should look at it as a starting point or a guideline.
As support for gun control grows, we as a nation should be able to shape and form our laws to fit our views and values. According to an article by Time magazine 68 percent of registered voters support stronger gun control laws, its highest rate in 25 years.
What good are our laws if they do not reflect the views of the nation? How long should we be restrained by the views of men who died before many of the deadly weapons in question were developed?
I believe we can honor the intent of the founders and still develop reforms that are fair to everyone.
As time moves forward it is time for us to look ahead or we will constantly find ourselves stuck in the past with our founders.