Sunday, June 5, 2011

To Keep And Bear Arms

I'll be working at the gun show today, so stop by the CSSA table, and join the NRA or the CSSA.

Meantime, The Truth About Guns, mentions that the Mexican constitution has its own version of the second amendment written into it:
Todo hombre tiene derecho de poseer y portar armas para su seguridad y legítima Linkdefensa. La ley señalará cuáles son las prohibidas y la pena en que incurren los que las portaren.
My Spanish is good enough to comprehend the first line, but I have to resort to Babelfish for the second:
All man must right to own and to carry arms for his security and legitim defense. The law will indicate which are the prohibited ones and the pain which those incur will carry that them.
The problem with machine translation becomes obvious right away. Also there seems to have been either a typo or a language shift since 1857, as hombre (man) probably would translate better as hombres (men).

It seems to say that all men have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense and personal security, BUT the law may prohibit some men from this, and may specify exactly who is not permitted, and establish penalties for the violators.

In spite of using the word "right", what the clause grants is a privilege to be granted or withdrawn at the whim of the government, very much like the interpretation the antis would like to impose on our own second amendment.

King Alfred of England, in around 800 AD recognized that if the Danes landed five ships up near York, they would have laid siege to the city, looted, pillaged raped, burned, and be halfway back to Denmark before he could call up his army and march it up to oppose them. He issued an edict then establishing every mans right to arms, and a civic duty to be at least minimally proficient with them to discourage the Danes or at least keep them busy until the army could arrive.

The modern equivalent of this is Chief Wiggums comment: "Can't you people take the law into your own hands? I mean, we can't be policing the entire city!" The principle works on pretty much any scale.


jed said...

I've seen other such "rights" listed in other constitutions, always with the proviso of "as provided by the legislature" or some such nonesense. IIRC, the new Iraqi Constitution is an example, and the U.S. helped draft it (no, I don't know what sort of influence we had in that specific clause).

Just read recently an article about some Mexican [ex-?] pol proposing that the citizenry be aided or allowed to arm themselves against the drug cartels. Drat, can't find it now.

Billll said...

I saw that article too. I also believe the Iraqui constitution allows one AK-47 or equivalent per household.

jed said...

Found it again at Walter in Denver.

A bit of web searching, including searching the Final Iraq Constitution (PDF), and I found no mention of private firearm possession. I think there was something in one or more of the initial drafts.

Billll said...

If you didn't find it in the constitution, it's probably in their statute law, which means it's a privilege, not a right.

Cy S. said...

I can probably shed some light on the intricacies of the idioms. The proper translation is something along the lines of: "Every man has the right to own and carry weapons for his own safety and legitimate defense. The law will specify which weapons will be prohibited and the penalty against those who carry them."

Sadly in Mexico (and most other Latin American countries) this right is not extended to the use of firearms. Yes, you can defend your life but only if you use weapons that the government deems appropriate (like a twig or a fly swatter).

Billll said...

Thank you Cy, that makes things clearer. I understood that the Mexican government had forbidden firearms in "military calibers" which brought about the .38 super in the first place.