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Jason Baker’s column from Wednesday, “Alabama Statewide Amendment 3 could be a slippery slope,” warns against the possible dangers to Alabamans’ right to keep and bear arms due to the wording of the proposed amendment to the state’s constitution. I want to concur with Mr. Baker’s sentiments and amplify the warning.
Here’s the section targeted for amendment. The Alabama Constitution of 1901, Article I, Declaration of Rights, Section 26 states:
That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence [sic] of himself and the State.
You could hardly be plainer in stating our unalienable right to bear arms, yet the proposed Statewide Amendment 3, while seeking to further clarify this right, actually muddies it. Here is the proposed amendment on the state ballot for this November 4th:
Act 2013-267, HB8, proposes an amendment to Article I, Section 26 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny. The proposed amendment also provides that no international treaty or law may prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with a citizen’s fundamental right to bear arms.
The proposed Amendment 3 sounds good when it addresses the international treaty and law issue, yet the wording Alabama would do well to delete is the statement that:
“… any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.”
That passage should be a deal-breaker to any thinking Alabama resident. Yet, in my research for this column, I stumbled across a website called, “Conservative Christians of Alabama,” that encourages people to vote “yes” on Statewide Amendment 3. I wonder who runs that website, and whether or not they have truly considered the implications of the amendment’s wording.
That passage in the proposed amendment is at odds with the very premise of our unalienable right to keep and bear arms. Since Alabamans have that unquestionable right, then why would you amend the state constitution to say the right might not be absolute?
As Mr. Baker writes in his Examiner column:
The problem is one of semantics – the inclusion of the phrase “any restrictions on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny”. This would be well and good if only constitutionally minded people held office. This sadly is not the case or even a reality. Patrick Henry in speaking for the inclusion of the Bill of Rights warned Madison about this very thing. The question he posed to Madison was “What are you going to do when evil men take office?”
If Alabama falls prey in the future to an anti-gun liberal Governor, Legislature, or State Supreme Court it would be their strict scrutiny to whittle away your rights.
While the drafters of this amendment may have the best of intentions, why would they entertain a “what if” scenario allowing for the potential of “any restrictions”?
This is something the voters of Alabama must seriously consider on November 4th. It is unfortunate that this wording was included in the proposed amendment, but the people of Alabama should vote “NO” on Statewide Amendment 3, and further demand that their state representatives reject the prospect of allowing for the infringement of their right to keep and bear arms in any future proposed amendment. Section 26 of Alabama’s Constitution is solid as it stands, and if it ain’t broke, don’t “fix” it.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.