The U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, making it more than 200 years old. Clearly, the world has changed a lot since then -- but by the looks of our Constitution, you'd think the world was still rife with powdered wigs and horse-drawn carriages.
Here's the truth that would make Washington's wooden teeth chatter: Anything that's over 200 years old and still kicking is probably in need of a facelift, our Constitution included. As shown by recent events, the Second Amendment, more accurately, "the right to bear arms" clause, is in need of some extra TLC.
As Reuters recently reported, "Many Americans ... are stocking up on weapons after the country’s worst mass shooting in three years." While getting rid of the Second Amendment won't end gun violence, it's worth reminding everyone we live in a very, very different world from the one in which it was written.
In order to understand the Second Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, we first have to understand the world from which it emerged. In 1791, the U.S. was in its nascency after it had just completed a very messy, bloody divorce from Great Britain. Maybe a "well-regulated militia" seemed like a good idea at the time because everyone was scared sh-tless of another war breaking out.
But the weaponry? Come on. Some of the popular guns included muskets, flintlock pistols and blunderbusses, which were basically Happy Meal Toys compared to the machine guns and automatic rifles of today.
As Michael Che put it on "SNL," "I know the Forefathers said you had a right to own a gun, but they also said you could own people ... the Constitution is a lot like our grandfather. He's wise, we love him, and he means well. But, he's getting really, really old and every once in a while he says something crazy and we gotta go to the other room and discuss what we're gonna do about him."
To put things in perspective, here are some other fun laws from around the same time period:
From 1659 to 1681, Christmas celebrations were banned in the Massachusetts Bay Colony because Puritans thought they were dishonorable and a waste of time. The ban's legacy had effects for centuries after it was lifted -- according to Massachusetts Travel Journal, it wasn't until "the mid-1800s that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region."
Interesting, considering how some people think there's a "War on Christmas" now, led by the four horsemen of the apocalypse including Starbucks and ~The Media~.
Women and People Of Color Couldn't Vote, Because White Dudes Wrote The Constitution
Because the Constitution didn't explicitly grant women and people of color the right to vote, they were barred from it. The fight for voting equality took hundreds of years; African American men didn't get the right to vote until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, and though women gained suffrage in 1920, the 19th Amendment mostly benefitted white women. Women of color had to battle through the 1960s amidst flagrant sexism and racism in order to exercise their right to vote.
Though the Constitution never explicitly used the words "slave" or "slavery" until the 13th Amendment abolished the egregious practice in 1865, it included certain amendments that protected slavery so that southern states would sign the document.
Witchcraft Was Literally A Thing You Could Die For
While the Salem Witch Trials get a lot of attention in textbooks and pop culture, it's important to remember that people could be accused of -- and killed for -- being "witches" elsewhere. In 1642, Connecticut made witchcraft a capital offense, which it remained until 1750 -- that's just 37 years before the Constitution was signed.
Look, maybe we've been interpreting this whole "right to bear arms" thing wrong and the Founding Fathers just wanted everyone to have the freedom to wear dank sleeveless tees. This is a possibility I am willing to entertain and exercise to the fullest extent of the law.