With Wisconsin only days away from being the 49th state to enact legislation that allows for the concealed carry of firearms, pressure is growing for Illinois to finally concede to its citizens the right of self-defense enshrined in the federal constitution.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington that the only occasions on which the United States Constitution is invoked with any reverence by the political establishment is when it appears to support the expansion of federal power. The topic du jour in the capital is the 14th Amendment, and whether it authorizes President Obama, in effect, to ignore the congressionally-imposed debt ceiling and instruct the Treasury to issue new debt to pay for old. For the record, the 14th Amendment’s Section Four states:

"We have proposed two amendments that we will have votes on today. One of them concerns the Second Amendment. I think it's very important that we protect the rights of gun owners in our country, not only for hunting, but for self-protection. And that the records of those in our country who own guns should be secret."

— Senator Rand Paul, speech before the U.S. Senate, May 26, 2011

ConstitutionAs part of its July 4, 2011 cover story on the relevance of the Constitution, Time magazine included the results of a poll of Americans on several issues germane to that topic.

Time magazineThe cover of the July 4, 2011 issue of Time magazine depicts a shredded Constitution superimposed with the question: “Does it still matter?” The tone of the cover article makes Time’s answer to that question obvious.