“A more effective [gun sales] system would require everyone who owns or acquires a gun to register it,” nytimes.com posits. “Gun owners would also need a license that could be obtained by demonstrating they can use a gun responsibly, and passing a background check.” The Times would have the system applied to dealer and private sales. So, universal background checks and licensing and registration for all gun owners. This is the exact scenario mooted by opponents of universal background checks. And how does the NYT justify this Constitutional infringement? Like this . . .
The Second Amendment is the only provision in the Bill of Rights with a preamble, which announces its purpose: “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.” The Heller decision, in turn, described the “militia” not as a formal military organization, but as everyone qualified to keep and bear arms.
The Second Amendment therefore means that all who exercise firearms rights should be “well regulated.” History confirms this: Comprehensive registration laws would not have alarmed those who wrote the Second Amendment. In the early republic, gun owners were frequently required to register their weapons with local authorities. A “well regulated militia,” of course, is subject to rules that ensure firearms are used safely and appropriately.
Wait. What? In the vernacular of the day, when the Bill of Rights was written, “well-regulated” meant “in proper working order.” Don’t take my word for it. Check out the link to The meaning of the phrase “well-regulated” in the 2nd amendment at constitution.org.
In short, “Establishing government oversight of the people’s arms was not only not the intent in using the phrase in the 2nd amendment, it was precisely to render the government powerless to do so that the founders wrote it.”
But don’t take their word for it. The meaning of the phrase (and its irrelevance to Americans’ gun rights) was made clear, “settled” if you will, in the Heller decision. Here’s the relevant bit from Justice Scalia writing for the majority [emphasis added]:
The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” . . .
That requirement of logical connection may cause a prefatory clause to resolve an ambiguity in the operative clause (“The separation of church and state being an important objective, the teachings of canons shall have no place in our jurisprudence.” The preface makes clear that the operative clause refers not to canons of interpretation but to clergymen.) But apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause . . .
Does the Times know this? I’m not sure. But they sure as Hell[er] don’t care.
As far as the Times is concerned, Heller doesn’t limit gun control in any way whatsoever. They see no problem with registering guns and gun owners, despite the prohibition against government infringement on the right to keep and bear arms, despite the obvious historical paradigm of German gun registration leading to Nazi gun confiscation (from Jews, veterans, communists and everyone not aligned with the party).
Well, at least the antis’ agenda — universal background checks -> gun owner registration -> gun confiscation (the logical and implied corollary) — is out in the open. No more pretending that universal background checks won’t lead to a federal gun owner registry. Which is, by the way, a direct violation of the Firearms Owners Protection Act. Not that the Times or its statist ilk care about FOPA or the United States Constitution.
It’s also a dire warning for friends of firearms freedom that a liberal Supreme Court judge could overturn all the gains established by the Court.