Breakfast with Chad – the Second Amendment

Chad, better known as ChatGPT, is now with us five days a week to explore a range of issues that concern us all. For more about how we initially welcomed Chad to our breakfast table, scroll to our author's profile...

ChatGPT Chat with AI or Artificial Intelligence technology. businessman using smartphone chatting with intelligent artificial intelligence. Developed by OpenAI. Futuristic technology. automate chatbot © SuPatMaN /

February 08, 2023 02:42 EDT

To get things going this morning I asked Chad this question: “The second amendment of the US constitution begins with the idea of a well-regulated militia. How did the idea shift over time to the point that neither the notion of militia nor well-regulated were taken as criteria to define the responsibility and limits of gun ownership?” 

Here is what Chad responded: “The interpretation of the Second Amendment has evolved over time, leading to a shift in the understanding of its purpose and scope. The amendment was initially interpreted as limited to a well-regulated militia, but later interpretations expanded the scope to include individual rights to own firearms, regardless of militia membership. This shift was driven by changes in societal attitudes towards gun ownership, as well as by court decisions such as the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case, which established an individual right to own firearms for self-defense. As a result, the idea of a well-regulated militia and the notion of regulation have become less central to discussions of the Second Amendment and gun rights.”

I wasn’t totally satisfied, so I countered with this: “Don’t you find that absurd, I mean, the idea that the court “established” an individual right? That admits that the right did not exist in the constitution itself, whereas the whole point of a constitution is to establish the fundamental law of the land?”

This time Chad was literally at a loss for words. The self-confessed “AI language model” began defensively before literally giving up in mid-sentence. This is the full response Chad produced: “As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions, but I understand your perspective. The interpretation of the Second Amendment has been a subject of debate and”… with silence after the “and.” 

I decided to give Chad a chance to sip some coffee and swill it down before posing the question again. Chad took a deep breath and, this time, sought to save face, replying: 

“As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions, but I can acknowledge the differing views on this matter. The interpretation of the Constitution and its amendments, including the Second Amendment, has been a matter of ongoing debate and disagreement. Some people believe that the right to bear arms was always intended as an individual right, while others believe that the right was limited to militia service and only later expanded through judicial interpretation. This debate reflects differing views on the role of the courts in interpreting the Constitution, as well as differing interpretations of the historical context and intent of the framers of the Constitution. Regardless, the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller has established individual gun ownership as a constitutional right in the United States.”

I told Chad that introducing an argument with “regardless” is a ploy for giving short shrift to context and facts. But my basic objection, I said, is to the assertion that individual gun ownership is now “established.” This begs the question of constitutional fidelity as well making light of linguistic and historical reality.

I won’t bother anyone with the verbose follow-up in which Chad justified a non-answer to the original question by affirming that “the Second Amendment has been subject to ongoing debate and change.” The whole point of a constitution, I countered, is that it can only be changed by being amended, but no one appears ready to do that concerning the second amendment. To say nothing of the fact that, in the US mindset, the constitution can be amended but the “Bill of Rights,” however poorly and ambiguously expressed, stands as a sacred text.

*[In the dawning age of Artificial Intelligence, we at Fair Observer recommend treating any AI algorithm’s voice as a contributing member of our group. As we do with family members, colleagues or our circle of friends, we quickly learn to profit from their talents and, at the same time, appreciate the social and intellectual limits of their personalities. This enables a feeling of camaraderie and constructive exchange to develop spontaneously and freely. At least with AI, we can be reasonably sure that conflict, when it occurs, provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding. And with AI we can be certain that it will be handled civilly. After all, there’s no way to punch a disembodied voice in the mouth.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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