In my travels around the blogosphere, I’m still astonish at how many in the gun control industry still attempt to proffer the argument that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was ever only meant to be in conjunction wth active militia service. On one site in particular, I had responded to what I thought was going to be a reasoned debate, but the proprietor has a tactic of not only moderating comments, but not approving any she does not have a response for. Such is the respect she has for her readers. So merely for my own self-interest, I’ll post my unapproved reply here, along with a couple of gems from the astute commenters at Reason Magazine.
After a summary reading of the pages linked, I would counter that while he puts a great deal of effort into his case, he ultimately editorializes to the detriment of his position. “Reasonable gun restrictions” are in the mind of the beholder, no? Much like what constitutes “common sense”. The author appears to inextricably link the right to keep and bear arms to active service in a militia, as his basis for his opposition to Heller; further, while he liberally uses Miller and Heller court transcripts and the verbiage of the Amendment, he seems to exclude the texts of the Founders from the debates leading to the drafting of the Amendment, which seem to refute his position pretty clearly…though in his favor he does not rely the standard gun control definition of “well regulated”, but rather the meaning of the founding era.
I’d say he further “goes off the rails” with his self derived definition of an “assault weapon”; as he describes it, it now refers generally, to any firearm ever invented. His conversational narrative and lack of primary sources makes his writings interesting to me…but hardly persuasive. But nonetheless, I appreciate the exposure to his series on the 2nd Amendment, as it strengthens my position.
I would refute his premise in a single summary:
“To deny that the right protected is one enforceable by individuals the following set of propositions must be accepted: (1) when the first Congress drafted the Bill of Rights it used “right of the people”” in the first amendment to denote a right of individuals (assembly); (2) then, some sixteen words later, it used the same phrase in the second amendment to denote a right belonging exclusively to the states; (3) but then, forty-six words later, the fourth amendment’s “right of the people” had reverted to its normal individual right meaning; (4) “right of the people” was again used in its natural sense in the ninth amendment; and (5) finally, in the tenth amendment the first Congress specifically distinguished “the states” from “the people,” although it had failed to do so in the second amendment.” – Don B. Kates, Jr., Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment , 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204 (1983), note 16, at 218
Now, though biased in favor of primary sources and facts as I am, were I a ‘gun-control nut’…..I couldn’t mount a rebuttal to Mr. Kates’ excerpt either…..but the failure to make visible the reply is a testament to the character we find amongst the gun control lobby writ large….so I shouldn’t be surprised.
Today, Reason Magazine has a good piece on how former Justice Stevens continues to be incorrect in his analysis of SCOTUS decisions from the recent past. Suffice to say, Reason’s Damon Root does an admirable job at dissecting Stevens from the Libertarian standpoint, but a couple of the commenters really hit the points home, where it regards the 2nd Amendment:
“Monty Crisco” – From Charles C. W. Cooke:
“Consider: In order to argue with a straight face that the right to keep and bear arms is inextricably linked with “service in an organized and sanctioned militia,” you would have to believe the following unbelievable things: 1) that the Founders’ intent in codifying the Second Amendment was to protect the right of individuals to join an organization over which the federal government has constitutionally granted plenary power; 2) that unlike every other provision in the Bill of Rights — and every other constitutional measure that is wrapped in the “right of the people” formulation — the Second Amendment denotes something other than an individual right that can be asserted against the state; and 3) that every major judicial figure of the era was mistaken as to its meaning — among them, Joseph Story, William Rawle, St. George Tucker, Timothy Farrar, and Tench Coxe, all of whom explained the Second Amendment perfectly clearly — whereas a few judges and politicians in the 20th century have been bang on in their comprehension.”
And, “Masturbatin’ Pete” –
You also have to believe that the intent of the 2A was to give Americans *fewer* rights to possess weapons than they had when they were subjects of King George III. Under the Bill of Rights of 1689, the colonists, as free Englishmen, had the right to possess weapons for self-defense. So then those colonists stage a rebellion against their government with those weapons, and we’re expected to believe that those same colonists decided that they now have *fewer* rights to their weapons.
Thanks fellas….home run.