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Letters to the Editor 5/10

May 09, 2000

Put 2nd Amendment to a referendum

To the editor:

The Constitution of the United States of America was formed to establish the principles upon which our country is governed. However, the fact it was written 212 years ago required the framers to address problems existing in 1788 - not 2000.

Of course, the Founding Fathers realized future changes were inevitable, and in their wisdom, created Article V, which allows Amendments to be added, or repealed, as deemed necessary.

Two perfect examples of this Amendment in action are Article XIII and Article XIX. In 1788, the right to own slaves (human-beings) was tolerated in America, and without any doubt, was the most evil, sinful, and disgusting practice on the face of the earth. Article XIII abolished slavery. In 1788 women were not allowed to vote. Article XIX (in 1920) granted women the right to vote.

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Today, guns and the Second Amendment are frequently in the news. The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." This is a classic example of an Amendment designed for the Revolutionary War period.

However, the Second Amendment is quite brief, and open to different interpretations. My interpretation is: It is well known the regular army of the colonists was neither large, nor well-equipped, and needed all the help it could get. This explains the term "A well regulated Militia (A Militia is part of the organized armed forces of a country, liable to call only in emergency) being necessary to the security of a free state the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." No doubt this was intended to insure that volunteers, farmers, etc., and Minutemen (Minutemen were pledged to respond immediately when called to action) would be allowed to keep and bear arms.

Like slavery, and denying women the right to vote, I believe the Second Amendment is outdated, and not relevant today. News reports of 30,000 gun deaths last year in the U.S.A. definitely convinces me the Second Amendment was never intended to arm every citizen in the U.S.A. for self-protection.

I have faith in the armed forces protecting our country from foreign attacks; law-enforcement officers protecting our individual safety; courts protecting our civil rights and justice; and zoos to protect endangered species and/or animal population control.

I am sure everyone will not agree with me, and that is not important. It is important that everyone interpret and understand our Constitution and amendments the same. No purpose is served when there are different interpretations.

This is so unnecessary because all we need to do is follow the process outlined by our Founding Fathers in Article V, and create amendments no one can misunderstand.

Allow the citizens to decide by referendum vote and demand Congress abide by the majority.

Is there a better way?

Harold E. Winn

Hagerstown

Reese's revisionism

To the editor:

Charley Reese's column April 15, 2000, is a classic example of revisionist propaganda.

It is an indisputable fact of history that the Confederacy was racist. In his inauguration speech on Feb. 18, 1861, Vice President Alexander Stephens stated: "Its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man."

Jefferson Davis himself stated in his message to the Confederate congress on April 29, 1861, the Northern threat to slavery was the cause of secession.

Article 4, Section 2 (Confederate Constitution) states Negro slaves were "property." Slavery was permanently written into the Constitution, (Article 1, Section 9). There were no civil (or even human) rights for Negroes living in the Confederate states.

During Lee's northern invasions, i.e., Antietam and Gettysburg, captured Negro freemen were shipped South to slavery. This is not "Yankee propaganda" Mr. Reese, it is an undeniable fact of Southern history.

Reese claims these "knights" fought for the "rule of law." Is this what those ex-Confederate Army officers had in mind when they founded the Ku Klux Klan?

The stars and bars is a symbol of Confederate racism just as surely as the Nazi flag is a symbol of Nazi racism and the holocaust.

I too, believe Southerners have a right to their own unique heritage but let's stop "white-washing" the Confederacy. It was an evil system that rightfully belongs in the dust-bin of history. Let's face facts. . .North or South, we all have our faults.

There is a rightful and honorable place for the Stars and Bars. . .but it isn't atop the South Carolina Statehouse.

Richard Anderson

Martinsburg, W.Va.

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