Reaching For the Sky

As I predicted yesterday, we all get to have guns now.

The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the 2nd Amendment since it was ratified in 1791, probably because it’s so simply written and so clear in its meaning that no interpretation is needed. But the current Cowboy Court has ended that neglect today by declaring that it is our legal — if not God-given — right to own as many guns as we want, and to keep them around the house, assembled and loaded. And oh, by the way, no one can make you use one of those cumbersome trigger locks, either!

The 5-4 decision split pretty much as you’d expect, with the “strict constructionists” Alito, Thomas, Kennedy, Chief Roberts and Scalia toeing the NRA line. They went with a “strict” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, which states:

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.

Well, it was strict except for the part about a well-regulated militia. The majority on the Court didn’t include that part in their interpretation. I know — you’re saying “If you leave that part out, it changes the whole meaning of the amendment!” And yes, completely reversing the meaning of part of the Constitution does seem to go against the principle of Strict Constructionism. But, as the right wingers are fond of saying, “You lost! Get over it!”

The other losers will include the sad people who will use their guns to shoot themselves, their wives and children, and the kids who will accidentally shoot themselves or their friends, and the surprised homeowners who will have their guns taken away and turned on them by burglars and home invaders delighted to find that their victims are thoughtfully providing loaded guns for the party.

My favorite part of Scalia’s written opinion is where he says that guns are the weapon of choice to defend your home, because you can point your gun with one hand while dialing the police with the other hand. What a dumbass! If he’d watched even a few episodes of Miami Vice he’d know that you’re supposed to use two hands when you point your gun. But probably Scalia is trying to show that only God-fearing law-abiding, police dialing citizens will be pointing guns and that this new Arm America decision won’t create an epidemic of bullet-related civilian casualties.

Me, I’ll be practicing my quick draw.

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PS: This and many recent decisions of the Supreme Court have been split 5-4. Justice Stevens is 88 years old. Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter are near 70. They can’t go on forever trying to uphold justice against an ever more right-leaning Court. Do you see now why we can’t let John McCain be President?

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14 Replies to “Reaching For the Sky”

  1. Larry, Thanks for your comments. While the number of comments I received was minimal, I was somewhat surprised at those following yours. More like shocked.

    It doesn’t seem possible that the word “militia” has any modern meaning – yet it’s used as if there’s modern context. Right. For the sake of argument, let’s arm everyone with a 9mm handgun and several full clips. As if that would constitute a viable militia in today’s world. If the US Army with bazookas and infrared goggles can’t defeat the Taliban, what would an armed US population be capable of doing? (Besides killing each other.) And who’s their leader? A modern militia is as bogus as Scalia’s gun in one hand and cell phone in the other.

  2. I grew up around guns but don’t have any. I remember having fun with them. My dad would take me and my brothers to the town dump and we’d shoot shotguns and twenty-twos. With a 12-gauge, you can really giva an old paint can a ride. He had a .380 automatic pistol that rarely came out of the lockbox. I understand people like guns for different reasons. Many think an armed citizenry is a safeguard against government tyrrany. You want to mobilize the right-wingers just in time for the next election? Reverse the latest SCOTUS vote.

    Guns are like dope. As long as people want them, somebody will sell them to them.

    Watch Bowling for Columbine. Canadians have guns but, compared to foks in the U.S., they seldom shoot each other. It turns out economic inequality and crime are highly correlated.

    Why don’t so many of us own guns? We choose not to based on our information. Information and education have taught us they’re trouble.

    That’s how you get rid of handguns.

  3. You’re on the wrong side of this one, little musician buddy.

    I don’t own any guns and in a sense I am a coward, because I know about the dangers of accidental shootings and such. I am counting on others to have guns, though, and I am banking on potential home invaders of having second thoughts about the advisability of breaking into my home.

    The odds are in my favor for my family staying well, thanks also to some self-defense training, community police protection and a minimal security system. If I lived in a different city or at a different time (in a post-Katrina-like anarchy, for instance), that calculation would change. So I say God bless the chief justices who voted in favor of my freedom to make that choice if need be.

    If concern for the safety of innocents is what’s really behind your bias against gun ownership, may I ask if that concern extends to the unrepresented victims of abortion? The statistics of innocent deaths there should shock any truly liberal-minded humanist. Why is restricting that right a form of tyranny but restricting my freedom to protect my family not an act of tyranny?

    All that aside, do you think a gun ban is even possible? You can’t muster the will to close our southern border yet you think a new law restricting the right to bear arms will instantly halt the flow of guns? You don’t want government agents listening into phone calls from terrorists but you’ll allow them to scour our closets for signs of gunpowder residue?

    In the most tightly restricted population in human history — the Warsaw ghetto — people dropped dead from a lack of food but they still got guns when they decided to rise up against the Nazi guards. If a grandmotherly liberal lawyer like Lynne Stewart could sneak messages out to her client’s terrorist buddies and a U.S. official can smuggle secret documents out in his trousers, what law will stop motivated, self-righteous but wrong-headed evil-doers from helping to arm revolutionary factions?

    I say thank the founding fathers for our 2nd ammendment. Long may free peoples cling to their guns, for that is the foundation of freedom itself.

    -ST

  4. Smokin’ T – Thanks for your input. I support gun control because guns kill, plain and simple. I don’t give myself permission to do that, and I’d rather you not, either. Because of the long history of easy access to guns in the U.S., a gun ban would take a long time — maybe generations — to be effective. That’s not a reason to abandon the idea.

    The published statistics on gun violence speak for themselves:

    One child every three hours is killed by gunfire in the U.S.
    Between 1979 and 2001, gunfire killed 90,000 children and teens in America.
    American kids are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.

    I’m just grabbing a few horrifying facts from one source (linked above). There’s lots more.

    You bring up safety for your family, but when you weigh the documented carnage against the remote possibility that you might someday deter a home invasion with your gun, I don’t see how a sane adult could possibly hold that the proliferation of these deadly weapons is on balance a good thing. More likely, if the bad guys aren’t sure who’s got a gun in their house (or car, or pants), they’ll just get badder guns themselves, and you still won’t be safe. For evidence of this, look at all the arms races in history.

    I call bullshit on your spurious conflation of gun control, abortion rights, immigration issues and governmental invasion of privacy. I’ll have any debate you want on any topic, but I don’t have time to defend my entire worldview to every dittohead every time he disagrees with something I’ve said. If you want to express your views on everything, get your own blog, or TV show or something, and I’ll write in to hassle you.

    Finally, in light of your gun advocacy, before you get too thanky to the founders for the 2nd Amendment, you should read it, paying attention to the first clause. Here’s the whole thing:

    “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.”

  5. 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.”

    What is a “militia?” Who runs it? What is their chain of command? To whom are they accountable? Who gets to join? Who dcides? To be a true bulwark against a tyrannical government, it would have to operate outside of the government, no?

    Michigan had a militia. Maybe they’re still around, the Michigan Militia. I think Terry Nichols was in it.

  6. John – However you define “militia,” it seems pretty clear that the Constitution does not extend to individuals the “right” to own guns. It says guns are for some kind of State-organized (regulated) military group.

  7. Not to put too fine a point on it, it doesn’t say “State-regulated.” It might be “well-regulated” by the good old boys on the Inbred County Commission. Also, reference to “the People” suggests the right is extended to “the People.”

    That said, I would’t mind seeing a mational ban on handguns, assault rifles and other non-sporting guns.

  8. If the government can regulate what kind of weapons our citizenry have a right to own, and they clearly can, or else bazookas would be legal, then D.C. has a right to protect their citizens by banning the use of handguns, which are easily hidden and transported. People who want to protect their homes could still own guns, they just couldn’t own handguns. I see absolutely no justification for this boneheaded decision the SCOTUS.

    Also, Scalia’s always the one using the potential for lawsuits as a reason not to overturn laws and/or previous decisions, and yet he didn’t seem to have that problem this time. Because of this decision, every law ever passed regulating armament can now be challenged.

  9. I always check in at the most serious of times! Guns? Militia?? Pigs??? State organization, for God’s sake???? Don’t you know it’s summer, Mr. Jones?

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