Pro tip: don’t take on National Review’s pro-2A Brit, Charles C.W. Cooke, where gun rights are concerned . . . No, Salon, the U.S. Was Not ‘Founded on Gun Control’
We might start with the purely factual errors. Asner and Weinberger claim that “as written, the Second Amendment follows closely in meaning and in language previous state and national Constitutions — all of which explicitly refer to militias and not individuals.” This is wrong. The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, which is 15 years after Vermont’s Bill of Rights, which held that “the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state”; 15 years after North Carolina’s Bill of Rights, which proposed that “the people have a right to bear arms, for the defence of the State”; and a year after Pennsylvania’s Declaration of Rights, which ensured that “the right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.” It is also eleven years after Massachusetts confirmed that “the people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence” — a plain statement that, like the others quoted, contains no references to a “militia,” “explicit” or otherwise, but does mention “the people.”
Asner and Weinberger also claim that Justice Scalia’s “odd” take on the Second Amendment’s grammar not only was incorrect, but was one that “nobody’s ever heard of, then or since.” His decision, they propose, ignored “200 years of precedent, historical context, the Framers’ Intent.” The ignorance or dishonesty that it must have taken to write these two sentences is, I must confess, beyond my ken. As Eugene Volokh has pointed out at length, the construction used in the Second Amendment was not peculiar for the era, but was in fact “commonplace.”
Not that any of Cooke’s cogent, thorough fisking of (9/11 truther) Asner and Weinberger alternative history will matter much. The two Eds, convinced they’re lonely voices of clarity in a wilderness of lies, half truths and far right obfuscation, have waded deep into the Bellesilesian fever swamps where facts don’t much matter.
None of the aforementioned matters much, of course, because Asner and Weinberger are not really investigating history, but trying to rewrite it. Theirs is a piece designed to convince the already convinced that almost everyone has fallen for a hoax. It’s hard work reversing much-beloved constitutional provisions, especially when they are built upon ideals that go back centuries. It’s much easier to pretend that “people” doesn’t mean “people,” and “right” doesn’t mean “right,” and that Michael Bellesiles was right after all. The Truther Singularity is perhaps closer than I had thought.
It’s worth your time to read the full article here.