There is a passage in the 1957 play, A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Bolt, that speaks to this present predicament. The play tells the story of Sir Thomas More, the singularly principled Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. The passage we are concerned with is about the importance making the law available to all, even the Devil...
"William Roper (More's son-in-law): So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
"Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
"William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
"Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
So that is the crux of the matter. As long as the law is denied to some, we are all at risk. The majority does not understand this. They do not understand that for democracy to be worth its salt, it must defend the rights of everyone, and particularly those who disagree with, live differently from, and think differently than the majority. The United States as we know it can easily survive without everyone having assess to assault rifles. It cannot survive without everyone having assess to due process. Thus, as goes due process rights, so goes our democracy.
* The origin of the Second Amendment lies, at least in good part, with the Founders' perceived need to give local jurisdictions control of militias in slave holding sections of the young United States. See Thom Hartmann's piece on this issue here.
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