WORDS HAVE MEANING
By Geoff Metcalf
July 2, 2008
“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Gosh-Oh-Gee-Golly, despite the itching and moaning, whining and crying over parsing semantics, the Supreme Court of the United States has FINALLY ruled that the Second Amendment actually DOES mean what it says, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
This is not the end of debate but rather the beginning of ‘an’ end. Specifically, the Supremes ruled 5-4 June 26th (a day that will live in infamy for rabid left wing sycophants) that the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns is incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. ‘Limited’ regulation is allowed (and that is what will be litigated ad nauseum) but an outright ban is unconstitutional.
This is a huge honking deal. The Supremes had never categorically and conclusively interpreted the 2nd amendment since it was first ratified in 1791. In fact since 1939 they have scrupulously avoided (run, hide from, eschewed) numerous attempts to get them to address the issue.
The core issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia. And they finally officially confirmed what most reasonable people have known for decades…gun ownership is an INDIVIDUAL right of ‘the people’.
Justice Scalia stressed that the decision, though historic, was narrow and its practical effects limited. However, caveats notwithstanding, the one big empirical reality is the central issue of the “individual right” which has now been confirmed, codified, and carved in stone.
Efforts to undermine, abrogate and destroy the second amendment have been ubiquitous since before the Brady Bill. Gun rights advocates have made it clear that they will pursue more legal challenges, implying the high court will get to revisit the issue.
Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama were supportive of the court's ruling…mostly.
McCain said it did not "mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens." He also took a thinly veiled shot at a controversial statement Obama made adding: "Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly."
Obama said it endorsed both gun rights and 'reasonable regulation'.
"I know what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun-show loophole and improving our background-check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals." Bullfeathers and political prattle! Terrorists and criminals have no difficulty getting guns. Laws have impeded the law abiding citizens’ access to the tools to protect themselves from terrorists and criminals.
Scalia wrote,” There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms."
In his dissent, Stevens accused Scalia of misreading the words of the 2nd Amendment and spinning its history to ignore its focus on organized militias. However, it is Stevens who has misread the intent. The individual right to own guns was/is intended to provide the citizenry with the tools to rise up against an oppressive government (and government military)…as our founders did in Lexington, and Breeds Hill. The first three battles of our War for Independence were fought ‘over gun control’ not taxation without representation or the long list of enumerated grievenances.
Frankly, most Americans do not embrace the Stevens’ spin. Polls indicate that people commonly think the 2nd Amendment protects an individual's right to have a gun.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty whined about the dismantling of the 32-year-old law, saying that "more handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence." However, Fenty too is way wrong.
Meanwhile, a day after the Supreme Court issued the landmark ruling, the National Rifle Association filed suit in five jurisdictions to overturn their bans as well.
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When I spoke with Clark Neily, co-counsel for Heller he said, "Today's ruling is a tremendous victory for freedom and the rule of law in America. The Court has affirmed that the people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, regardless of whether the government's efforts are well-meaning or, as in this case, utterly misguided."