“The language of the 2nd Amendment is quite clear,” latimes.com‘s op ed pronounces, ominously enough. ” ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ As the minority in the Heller decision argued, and more than a century of judicial precedent at the federal level established, the right to bear arms was not an inherent right of citizenship but rather a right that derived from service in the militia.” So we’re supposed to accept the Supreme Court’s minority opinion in Heller. And ignore a decision whose majority opinion (all nine judges agreeing on an individual right to keep and bear arms) reversed a century of deliberate misinterpretation of the Second Amendment’s original intent. Because . . . guns! It gets worse . . .
Justice Antonin Scalia‘s majority opinion [in the Heller decision] is a tour de force of legalistic legerdemain, a lengthy journey through English common law, colonial charters, state constitutions and obscure 19th century court cases. Given Scalia’s judicial philosophy as an “originalist” — meaning he believes his opinions should be guided by the original intent of the framers — his failure to assess Madison’s motives in drafting the 2nd Amendment is strange, much like a devout Christian explaining his faith without mentioning Jesus.
Huh? Click here for the text of the decision, which addresses the original politics of the prefatory clause (the militia bit) in the fourth paragraph.
The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.
Which gives us the answer to the question “How wrong can an anti-gun editorialist for the LA Times be?” Here’s another one: “How right can they be?” Pretty damn right. The assertion that Heller contained a caveat with which the doyennes of civilian disarmament could further their heinous agenda is, as the Brits say, spot on.
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…. Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
These caveats create a crack through which significant gun control legislation might flow. Indeed, expanded background checks and limits on automatic weapons, the key provisions in the post-Sandy Hook gun legislation debated (and defeated) by Congress earlier this year, fit comfortably within this space.
Though those laws did not fit comfortably with gun rights advocates’ idea of the meaning of the “shall not be infringed” bit of the “operative” clause. Perhaps the LA Times missed the Colorado recall campaign against two legislators who helped ram through “expanded background checks” and ammunition magazine capacity limits. Yeah, not happy.
It’s no wonder that the LA Times seeks to seem “reasonable” about gun laws—even as they display their utter ignorance on the subject at hand (e.g. using the word “automatic” to describe “semi-automatic” firearms). The Golden State Progs pimping for gun control believe they’re on the cusp of a great victory; nearly a dozen gun control bills are working their way through the Democrat-controlled legislature to land on the Democratic Governor’s desk.
The LA Times wants to be magnanimous in victory. In other words, they want to pulverize any remaining opposition to civilian disarmament.
The intent of the founders needs to be heard and understood. The men who hammered out the Constitution, argued for its ratification and underlined our liberties with the Bill of Rights, would urge us to think about the issue this way: How do we balance the right to bear arms against the collective security of the American people?
Quick quote from Benjamin Franklin, signatory to the original copy of the United States Constitution (with help, with tears streaming down his face): “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” So no, the Constitution’s framers would urge no such thing. In fact, they’d be revolted by the proposition.
While we’re at it, the popularity of Franklin’s quote amongst The People of the Gun indicates that it will be a cold day in Hell before they accept the Times’ tepid “offer” of surrender (masquerading as compromise). Can you say unctuous?
Framed in this fashion, we can all come together as fellow citizens to discuss in a sensible rather than strident tone where the line needs to be drawn between our rights and our responsibilities.
All that’s required is that we channel our inner James Madisons, and even our inner Scalias. There is no unlimited right to bear arms — on that these two men agree, and so should we.
Correct. There is no unlimited right to bear arms. I draw the line at weapons that aren’t aimed. You? Meanwhile, back to the front.