The Supreme Court has, for the first time in close to 70 years, decided to hear a case about the Second Amendment.
In a sense, the Court may well be writing on a clean slate if, in the end, it decides the ultimate question: does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to have a gun for private use, or does it only guarantee a collective right to have guns in an organized military force such as a state National Guard unit?
The problem with Supreme Court rulings, is that, as the article mentions further down, they very often find some way not to address the critical question. That’s why landmark cases are rare, and most of the time the decision is about some crap about standing or jurisdiction.
But let’s assume for just a second that the Court actually reaches the critical question here. I may just file an Amicus brief.
My feelings on the matter are quite strong. I am strongly pro gun-control. With no qualifications or reservations. And people who make Second Amendment arguments against gun control just bother me. Why? Because in my opinion, the answer to the question the Court may face is an obvious and unambiguous one (even if you’re an originalist). For reference, the text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution:
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.
It’s one sentence. That’s it. If the right was intended by the framers to be categorical, unqualified and unequivocal, well, it wouldn’t be qualified and equivocated. But it is. See, there’s this lead-in, before the right: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state. What that means is, in no uncertain terms, people are granted the right to bear arms in the context of a well regulated militia. Maybe (to you) there’s some ambiguity in what “well regulated” means, but it clearly means some sort of government regulation. This is not a personal right, and it never was. It’s a guarantee that at some point in the future, there won’t be legislation making it illegal for the army to bear arms. You may ask, “then why is the right granted to the people?” Because who else is going to bear the arms? Rights have to be granted to people, it’s the only way it makes sense. You can’t grant an Army a right as an abstract concept, you have to grant the right to the soldiers. Even if you understand militia to mean a band of people who aren’t in the army, and thus the right was specifically removed from just army service (which it’s not, because that just not what the word militia means, or meant then), you can certainly argue that the constitution qualified militia with “well regulated” specifically to avoid unregulated groups like the Minuteman Project and random people unaffiliated with any group. It’s still not a personal right, but a group right. [Originalists, stop here. Jeffersonians and those who love a living constitution, read on.]
As Rav Bina would say, “Az, I tell you stronger.” A militia, as in non-army group of men, (if you accept that position, which I don’t) is not any longer necessary to the security of a free state. We have four branches of the military, the coast guard and the national guard. We have plenty of security, without every shmuck who likes to hunt owning a gun. The fact is, guns in the hands of individuals are a much more serious threat to our safety and security than anything the framers were worried about (attack from England? Roving bands of Indians?). Allow “well-regulated militia” to include police (that’s just my opinion; the glow sticks in Demolition Man were kinda weak) and military (including coast guard and national guard) and get rid of every other gun. Make gun ownership by someone affiliated with one of those groups difficult and onerous, with strict registration and lock requirements, and get rid of every other gun. OK, so actually getting rid of the guns would be difficult, but at least make them illegal.