November 30, 2007
• NY Times Editorial
Opinion section, NY Times, Editorial
The Court and the Second Amendment
Published: November 21, 2007
By agreeing yesterday to rule on whether provisions of the District of Columbia’s stringent gun control law violate the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has inserted itself into a roiling public controversy with large ramifications for public safety. The court’s move sowed hope and fear among supporters of reasonable gun control, and it ratcheted up the suspense surrounding the court’s current term.
The hope, which we share, is that the court will rise above the hard-right ideology of some justices to render a decision respectful of the Constitution’s text and the violent consequences of denying government broad room to regulate guns. The fear is that it will not.
At issue is a 2-to-1 ruling last March by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that found unconstitutional a law barring handguns in homes and requiring that shotguns and rifles be stored with trigger locks or disassembled. The ruling upheld a radical decision by a federal trial judge, who struck down the 31-year-old gun control law on spurious grounds that conform with the agenda of the anti-gun control lobby but cry out for rejection by the Supreme Court.
Much hinges on how the justices interpret the Second Amendment, which says: “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.”
Opponents of gun control sometimes claim a constitutional prohibition on any serious regulation of individual gun ownership. The court last weighed in on the amendment in 1939, concluding, correctly in our view, that the only absolute right conferred on individuals is for the private ownership of guns that has “some reasonable relationship to the preservation of efficiency of a well-regulated militia.” The federal, state and local governments may impose restrictions on other uses — like the trigger guards — or outright bans on types of weapons. Appellate courts followed that interpretation, until last spring’s departure.
A lot has changed since the nation’s founding, when people kept muskets to be ready for militia service. What has not changed is the actual language of the Constitution. To get past the first limiting clauses of the Second Amendment to find an unalienable individual right to bear arms seems to require creative editing.
Beyond grappling with fairly esoteric arguments about the Second Amendment, the justices need to responsibly confront modern-day reality. A decision that upends needed gun controls currently in place around the country would imperil the lives of Americans.
Some ask why I put anti-gun articles on my blog. To answer that, I would suggest reading Sun Tzu, The Art of War. He valued positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment.
For us (supporters of the Second Amendment) to ignore those advocating the death of your rights will have and is having devastating consequences. We sure as hell better fully understand the “subjective opinions of competitive actors!”
This New Yorks Times Editorial is par for the course. I have highlighted the pertinent comments in the editorial. Because judges do not agree with their ideology, then they are branded activist or radical or right wing or what ever their pejorative dejour is.
I think we should all think long and hard about some of the ramifications of what the author is suggesting. He absolutely hangs his hat on the militia clause and stops there. He completely ignores the very meaning and intent of the Bill of Rights and why James Madison wrote it, plus the documents he drew on to craft the rights. Clearly, the NYTimes author is being intellectually dishonest by ignoring this history and the clear [clear] intent that the first 10 Bill of Rights be rights that are specific to the individual and not collect. It makes zero sense for the 2nd amendment to be the stand out exception to this historic document.
What’s more, have the honest, hard working citizens of Washington D.C. been made safer by the constitutional travesty foisted on them by a few crack pots? In a word, Not Even Close. Murder rates have only risen the last 31 years. In fact, the murder rate trended down for the 5 years preceding the Orwellian ban on hand guns and the subsequent right for a person to defend themselves. Another failure for social engineers.
No court or political body has the right to prevent me from defending myself or my family. This is a natural right and it must be guarded jealously. The crime and murder problems this country has can not be laid at the feet of honest Americans that carry a concealed weapon or keep one in the house for self-defense. It is, however, a societal marker that etches in history, the point where families and morality have completely broken down.