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Letter: Constitution full of ambiguities

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I am not a constitutional scholar, but neither are many people who quote the U.S. Constitution to support a personal socio-political position.

If the Second Amendment right to bear arms is the ultimate legal ground to oppose any gun safety regulation, then consider this: “Arms” might include anything from a knife to a nuclear weapon; landmines around my yard and armored tanks to drive in city streets would qualify as legitimate self-defense arms.

Similarly, Supreme Court originalists, asserting that all statements in the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding “at the time it was adopted,” are challenging the legality of Roe v. Wade, since reproductive rights were never mentioned in the original document.

Of course, nobody is currently advocating a ban on pocketknives, nor claiming individual rights to own atomic bombs, landmines or tanks. Scholars have also repeatedly pointed out that the Constitution was adopted as a compromise document written by a handful of men with wide vision but who were still the imperfect products of their time.

My point is: While respecting our Constitution, we should understand it as a historical document full of ambiguities and omissions. We have decisions to make on issues that aristocratic, paternalistic 18th-century men are not expected to know about, such as public health safety and health care equity.

In discussing the divisive issues of gun and abortion rights, we would be abdicating our communal responsibility if we use the Constitution as an obstacle to a more perfect Union.

Chinh Le

Corvallis

 

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