Chris Christie Flubbed Something Really Basic About American History

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/19348311842/in/photolist-vtKa2u-vrYuc3-uxrsai-uxgDeJ-vuRUa5-uxgFvY-vcGPCL-vvphtp-vtJYSS-vuhdtk-vtJY2o-uxrgdZ-vuhemx-vrYmgy-vtJYof-vcGJCf-uxgCa9-vuCHYD-vuhbKk-vcQ4Cg-vtJZuU-vtJVjE-vuCK94-vrYqaq-vcGxq7-vuCJjZ-vcGHSN-vuCGsT-vtJVAS-vuh9ei-vtJVtC-pvwrWW-uyowDQ-5AnfGQ-zAavPU-zRDDaS-yVKyCE-zAc4gh-5Bg5q2-8LsbMN-8LsbRu-8Ls9Eh-8Lsauq-8Lp6Aa-8LsaRY-8Ls9um-8LsaNu-8Lp89r-8Lsagq-8Lp6GK">Marc Nozell</a>/Flickr

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a bold pronouncement at Thursday’s Republican debate: the founders considered the right to bear arms to be one of the most important constitutional amendments—that’s why it was the second one on the list. “I don’t think the Founders put the second amendment as number two by accident,” he said, adding, “I think they made the Second Amendment the Second Amendment because they thought it was just that important.”

But that doesn’t make a lot of sense—the Third Amendment (which prevents citizens from quartering soldiers against their will) is not more important than the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits unwarranted search and seizure), simply because it has a lower number. Nor would you be able to find many conservatives who believe the Tenth Amendment, which delegates rights to the states, is somehow the least important of the bunch.

The other problem with this line of thinking is that the Second Amendment as we know it wasn’t really the second amendment to be written—it was the fourth. James Madison proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution, but the first two were not ratified by enough states. The original First Amendment concerned the size of congressional districts—not quite as big of a deal in the grand scheme of things as, say, the original Third Amendment (which would become freedom of expression). The original Second Amendment would have prohibited Congress from raising its own pay (it was eventually ratified as the 27th.)

This is all a bit confusing but you have to bear in mind the Founding Fathers were drunk most of the time.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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