Thomas Jefferson and James Madison

This is a colloquy between Thomas Jefferson  and James Madison, about the U.S. Constitution of 1787/89, The Bill of Rights and the 2nd Amendment in particular.

JEFFERSON: As you will recall, James, I was in Paris when I received the draft of yours and the others’ brilliant work In Philadelphia. I was astounded as to its completeness with regard to the mechanics of government.

MADISON: Yes, I very vividly recall that letter. You were quite busy with matters of state. Generally, you did concur with the body of work as presented; however, you minced no words as to your disappointment at the absence of a bill of rights.

JEFFERSON: I was incensed. There was no protection for religious freedom, or that of the press, or against standing armies -- Hah! What a turnaround; in the 21st century, it is the standing army, navy and air force of the United States which protects that portion of the world that has adopted the ideals we brought to the fore!

MADISON: So it is. In that regard, another inclusion in the final Bill of Rights, pertaining to firearms, has been grossly misinterpreted – rather, grossly compromised – to a point where the domestic peace of the nation is being destabilized.

JEFFERSON: We merely assured that citizens not be deprived of having a musket at home, in order to be at the ready at a moment’s notice, in defense of the new Republic.

MADISON: That which turned out to be the 2nd Amendment should have been abolished by the time the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were adopted. Those quaint ideas, by that time, were more than demonstrably proven to be moot.

JEFFERSON: Nevertheless, in the middle of the 20th century, manufacturing greed and the desire to wield political control caused an otherwise inoffensive shooting club to sanctify and misuse that pitifully out of date 2nd Amendment.

MADISON: Eighteen years into the 21st century, the almost unrestricted availability of weapons we would have seen to have been delivered directly from the bowels of hell are finding themselves in the hands of individuals who are most deeply disturbed. In turn, unsuspecting adults and children going about their daily lives suddenly are maimed and murdered on the spot!

JEFFERSON: The pity is, we are held to blame! There has grown up a holy army that hails itself the defender of the 2nd Amendment. They imprint upon us the intention to provide each and every citizen with whatever of those fiendishly conceived weapons he… (OK, …or,  “she”) desires. Nothing could be further from the truth.

MADISON: No, no, no… People of the 21st Century, use your good sense. We were primitives, protecting ourselves in the only way available to us. That protection for you is afforded by the same forces that protect the current free world. The Constitution allows for changes that come with changing times.

JEFFERSON: Would that we could get that message through to them – along with another matter I expressed in my December 1787 letter to you – (to use a modern expression) an idea I seemed to have knocked out of the park!

MADISON: What on earth would that be, Thomas?

JEFFERSON: Regarding the three branches, while concurring with reasoning’s for the restraints placed upon the Executive, in addition, I expressly suggested that someday a foreign leader might be tempted to insinuate himself directly into our election process.

MADISON: Point well taken, Thomas!

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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