“The liveliest (and oldest) former member of the U.S. Supreme Court is at it again. John Paul Stevens, 93, served on the highest court in the land for an impressive 35 years, from 1975 until his retirement in June 2010,” Paul Barrett writes at BloombergBusinessweek. “Known for his bow ties, brilliant legal mind, and striking transformation from Midwest Republican conservative to hero of the political left, Stevens remains an intellectual force to reckon with.” God, I hope not. Stevens utterly rejects the Heller ruling establishing an individual right to keep and bear arms. In fact, this is how he’d amend the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.” His justification for the change is predictably short-sighted . . .
“Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands.”
Emotional claims? Someone hasn’t been reading his history books . . . “James Madison made clear that, although the proposed Constitution offered sufficient guarantees against despotism by its checks and balances, the real deterrent to governmental abuse was the armed population,” David E. Vandercoy writes in The History of the Second Amendment. Vadercoy quotes Madison:
To these [the standing army] would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from amongst themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by government possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops …. Besides the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.
Anyway, Stevens’ inability to see that “the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands” is nothing compared to the slaughter caused by governments ruling over a disarmed populace goes to show the fragility of our rights in the hands of the judiciary. Which is why the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment: to put firearms in our hands. He who has the guns makes the rules? Something like that. [h/t JR]