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The absolute amendment

Original post made on Jan 26, 2013

The right to bear arms is the topic of this week's [Web Link Raucous Caucus], where Tom Cushing ruminates on whether the Second Amendment is, legally, "absolute." Cushing also poses a pertinent question to gun enthusiasts: "Does the NRA really represent you in this conversation? Is there no other organization that has a better strategy?"

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 25, 2013, 1:57 PM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Opine Carey
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

Talk about begging the question...

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Posted by Common sense
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 28, 2013 at 9:52 am

How many persons have read and understand the words of the second amendment? The following is the exact wording:

Amendment II. 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.

Note two portions carefully. "well regulated militia" states that the planners were talking about a militia, not individuals and that it was to be "regulated". Also, it states "the right of the people not the right of a person. A militia for common defense and protection is authorized; individual gun ownership without regulation is not.

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Posted by Danville Independent
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Jan 28, 2013 at 11:50 am

Absolutely, Common Sense! I wish more people understood this: Of the 5 2nd amendment cases to come before the Supreme Court prior to 2008, ALL of them stated that our forefathers were concerned with a well-regulated military, and that an individual citizen did NOT have a explicit 'right' to own a firearm. There's an ad nauseam pro-gun argument based on their perceived Second Amendments rights as if we still live in the 18th century, when a militia was necessary to defend a fledgling republic (and of course, all they had were single-shot muzzle-loaders)

That being said, the law is the law now, that we have the "Right" to own a firearm. That being said, I think President Obama has proposed common-sense regulation: who amongst us thinks that it's OK for someone to own and walk around with a 100 round-magazine? With armor piercing bullets? These military assault-weapons,..should NOT be allowed in civilian life!

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Jan 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Sorry, CS and DI, but I disagree. Your arguments are logical but the meaning of some of the words has evolved some since the 18th Century. If you study the matter thoroughly I think you'd come to the understanding that the Second Amendment was in fact intended to guarantee individuals the right to keep and bear arms.

Now, what kind of "arms" and what restrictions and regulations may be required in connection with that right is a matter for debate. But I think the Supreme Court got the basic question right. (They added a bunch of BS as well, but that's Scalia for you.)

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Posted by Opine Carey
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Everywhere in the Constitution where it mentions the people, it means the people. However, some folks would have you believe that in the 2nd amendment "the people" doesn't mean The People, it means "the militia." That's obviously wrong. The framers knew exactly what words they were using and what they meant.

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm

There's a short article on the demise of the militia clause -- which from 1787 to 2008 was thought to condition "the people's" right to military matters -- by Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker's blog, here: Web Link.

He's no friend of this novel reinterpretation, but he gives grudging credit to the NRA in the group's determined, twenty-year campaign to gain respect, and eventually a majority of the Court, for that new position. Is there anywhere they're not?

But fellas, if we're going to be bound by the Founding Fathers' interpretations, shouldn't the right only extend to those whom the FFs considered to be "the people?" That would mean, for instance, that no women, and no African Americans, should enjoy the right, right?

Just a Modest Proposal.

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Posted by Opine Carey
a resident of San Ramon
on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Very modest, indeed. It will certainly secure you a place on the Grasping at Straws competition.

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 29, 2013 at 6:49 am

Straws as slender as the reed of a novel, 5-4 precedent at a time when certainly the next four, and likely the next eight years after that would see the appointment of new Justices who might tip that balance?

The law is what it is currently, but part of my point in writing this one was that NObody ought to get too cocky about the role of the Second Amendment in these coming decisions about gun policy. Perhaps I didn't succeed with everybody.

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Posted by Aubrey
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 29, 2013 at 8:06 am

Militia is always a straw man argument against individual gun rights. By definition, the militia is comprised of all citizens, not a state or federally organized entity. Therefore, by definition, individuals that will comprise the militia must own firearms.

The Constitution is a limiting document of gov't, not a document that grants rights to the people. One should also remember what caused the first shots of the revolution to be fired at Lexington Square. It wasn't taxes, but the British attempting to confiscate firearms.

One last point, as a citizen and defacto member of "the militia", I would hate to be out-gunned by my opponent...

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Posted by a sane gun owner
a resident of Danville
on Jan 29, 2013 at 9:31 am

"By definition, the militia is comprised of all citizens, not a state or federally organized entity. Therefore, by definition, individuals that will comprise the militia must own firearms."

Um, by that logic, all citizens "must" own firearms. Is that sound constitutional interpretation?

"One last point, as a citizen and defacto member of 'the militia', I would hate to be out-gunned by my opponent..."

I see. So you own a few aircraft carriers, a ballistic submarine or two, a fleet of F/A-18s and F-22s, some Abrams tanks, and a couple dozen UAVs (with Hellfire and Maverick AGMs, natch), right?

It never fails to amaze me how pro-gun "conservatives" (and they almost always self-identify as such) can get so worked up about "liberty" and "freedom from tyranny" when it comes to guns but with few exceptions tend to enthusiastically support Constitution-trampling measures like warrantless wiretapping, torture, indefinite detention without charge, etc. If that's not "tyranny," what is? Conor Friedorsdorf had a good piece on this issue here. Web Link

The hypocrisy makes it hard to take the pro-gun arguments seriously, particularly when anti-government blowhards like Wayne LaPierre start talking about armed government agents in every school and coming up with a national database of the mentally ill. Gee, nothing intrusive about that, is there? (What would qualify as "mentally ill," BTW? Ever taken an antidepressant? Seen a shrink? Have mild OCD or seasonal depression?)

The NRA is nothing more than a trade organization for the gun makers. That's why they fight any gun restrictions so hard -- it's not about liberty, it's about profits. Every constitutional right is subject to reasonable limitations (free speech? try libel or yelling "fire" in a crowded building, or sedition or treason. free religion? try taking peyote as part of your religious ceremony. etc.), including the 2nd Amendment (read Scalia's opinion in the Heller case -- it expressly says that reasonable restrictions on firearm ownership are lawful), but the NRA's absolutist position leaves no room for sensible limitations to avoid the kinds of tragedies we see in Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, etc. And have no doubt, we'll see another mass shooting before too long. How many and how bad do they have to be before people wake up?

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Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Jan 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

If I buy my own flying drone, does the second amendment allow me to put my assault rifle on it for strafing runs when our tyrannical government forces show up in all of our cities?
I do agree with gun ownership, just with sane limits.
The most dangerous thing to have in your house when a robber shows up is a loaded gun. Just ask the resident and expert marksman that lived (RIP) in Round Hill North. Upon seeing armed intruders, who were there not to kill him but to steal jewelry, he retreated to his master bedroom, retrieved his gun and preceded to nobly defend his jewelry, unfortunately with his life.

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Posted by Teddy
a resident of Danville
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm

The right to bear arms, or better yet, the right to arm bears!!!

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Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

I find some of the revisionist interpretations of the 2nd Amendment (as in some of the above posts) to be interesting. Gun control advocates like to state their belief that the 2nd Amendment was only intended to apply to the militias that are mentioned in the initial phrase of the amendment. But if the 2nd Amendment was only intended to cover the arms of militias, why doesn't it just say that "The right of militias to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Why mention "the people" at all? The reason is that the intent was to ensure that "the people" could have arms, in part so that "the people" could form "well-regulated militias" if necessary.

It is often argues that the founder couldn't have foreseen modern weapons. On the other hand, they were comfortable with "the people" having the right to the same sorts of arms as the armies of the day had.

It also seems likely to me (actually this is more of a certainty) that the founders had a real concern of their own government becoming tyrranical. They implemented the various checks and balances within the constitution to prevent this, and time has proven this to have been very successful, at least in large part. But having just initiated a revolution to separate themselves from one tyrannical government, they were understandably concerned about what might happen down the road with their own new form of government.

Limiting clip capacity, and putting high taxes on ammunition might seem like modest changes, and I can understand the thought process behind them. But in the end, there is zero evidence that these steps will do anything to reduce gun violence, and in fact there are multiple studies that show a reverse correlation - that gun-violence is more prevalent in locales that have tighter local gun regulation. And we all know that modest limitations on clip capacity, and ammo taxes, etc., are not where this ends. It's just the first step, and when gun violence continues to happen (which, unfortunately it will), then gun control advocates will say that we just didn't limit things enough, and so NOW we need to actually limit guns of all types. Concerns over a slippery slope are quite valid, in this case. And in the meantime, the clip limits will not impede criminals or nuts in any way, and the high ammo tax will just create a thriving black-market for ammo. But the politicians will be able to point with pride to how they solved the problem, and we can all congratulate ourselves on how concerned we are....

I also find it ironic how many of our gun-control advocate politicians own guns for their own protection/defense, including Sen. Feinstein who actually had a concealed-carry permit at one time. Same thing for Chuck Schumer. They're not stupid. They just think/hope that most voters are (or at least are oblivious)....

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Posted by Lisa
a resident of Danville
on Jan 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Bought my first gun because of the first dictator--thanks very much!

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Posted by cardinal
a resident of Diablo
on Jan 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Lisa, tell the truth -- you were really worried about those expanded mental health background checks, weren't you?

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Jan 31, 2013 at 11:20 am

Dictator, huh.

Lisa, Dick Cheney did appear to be running things during those 8 years (at least until he got snagged up in "Scooter (Libby)-Gate"), and he was not elected as president -- but, to call him a "dictator" probably gives him more credit than he deserves.

And, were you planning to use the gun to help keep him in power, or to oppose him?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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