Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
January 16, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Draw Your Weapon!

Truthdig Bazaar more items

Email this item Print this item

When Common Sense Is Unconstitutional

Posted on Jun 26, 2008

By Eugene Robinson

    Few landmark Supreme Court rulings have been so widely predicted as Thursday’s decision striking down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns. The mere fact that the court agreed to hear the case was a pretty good indication that the justices were itching to make some kind of big statement about the Second Amendment. Questions from the bench during oral arguments in March left little doubt as to which way the wind was blowing.

    This case, for me, is one of those uncomfortable situations where my honest opinion is not the one I’d desperately like to be able to argue. As much as I abhor the possible real-word impact of the ruling, I fear that it’s probably right.

    The practical benefits of effective gun control are obvious: If there are fewer guns there are fewer shootings, and fewer funerals. As everyone knows, in the District of Columbia—and in just about every city in the nation, big or small—there are far too many funerals. The handgun is the weapon of choice in keeping the U.S. homicide rate at a level that the rest of the civilized world finds incomprehensible and appalling.

    I realize that the now-defunct D.C. law was unusually comprehensive and restrictive, and thus, in the legal sense, offered a bull’s-eye for the pro-gun lobby. I also know that the law was easy to attack on grounds of efficacy: Given all the handgun killings in the city, was the ban really having any beneficial impact at all?

    But come on, it’s not as if the law was making gun violence in the city any worse—and it’s not as if striking down the law and perhaps adding hundreds or thousands of weapons to the city will make things any better. The law was flawed, but it was a lot better than nothing.

    I’d like to be able to thunder about the injustice committed by an activist, arch-conservative Supreme Court that seeks to return our jurisprudence to the 18th century. I will, almost certainly, about some future outrage. But this time, I can’t.

    The big problem, for me, is the clarity of the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.” The traditional argument in favor of gun control has been that this is a collective right, accorded to state militias. This has always struck me as a real stretch, if not a total dodge.

    I’ve never been able to understand why the Founders would stick a collective right into the middle of the greatest charter of individual rights and freedoms ever written—and give it such pride of place, the No. 2 position, right behind such bedrock freedoms as speech and religion. Even Barack Obama, a longtime advocate of gun control—but also a one-time professor of constitutional law—has said he believes the amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership.

    And even if the Second Amendment was meant to refer to state militias, where did the Founders intend for the militias’ weapons to be stored? In the homes of the volunteers is my guess.

    More broadly, I’ve always had trouble believing that a bunch of radicals who had just overthrown their British oppressors would tolerate any arrangement in which government had a monopoly on the instruments of deadly force. I don’t mean to sound like some kind of backwoods survivalist, but I think the revolutionaries who founded this nation believed in guns.

    Did they believe in assault weapons? Of course not. Would they be appalled that drug gangs are often better armed than the police? Of course they would, and surely they’d want to do something about it.

    I believe the Constitution is a living document that has to be seen in light of the times. I believe the Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, was right to infer an implicit right to privacy, even though no such thing is spelled out. I think the idea that the Founders’ “original intent” should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony—as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet.

    But I also believe that if the Constitution says yes, you can’t just blithely pretend it says no. Thursday’s decision appears to leave room for laws that place some restrictions on gun ownership but still observe the Second Amendment’s guarantee. If not, then the way to fix the Constitution is to amend it—not ignore it. 
    Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
    © 2008, Washington Post Writers Group


Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By yellowbird2525, July 31, 2008 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

no; i am not kidding; i know that other countries are talking what is going on here genocide, & wondered why they were talking about Hitler & how it was done & how it is being done today in the USA; I know there is a concentration camp up in Alaska supposedly for immigrants; but I have watched 3 st Congression folks here in Oregon say all undocumenteds wanting to come in will be given drivers licenses & there will be no 2nd class citizens here; i know they are giving them cars, trucks, (brand new) money, no interest loans pay back whenever you can; while on the citizens side at every level it has been predatory targeting, from babies on up to older folks; more vets have died here, & the die with dignity act here in Oregon changed to show the mentally ill (which a Gov agency here in Medford Ore started the “all military personnel are mental cases); I know that Hillary Clinton in the early 90’s said: we are going to take away things that are not good for you; and Bill started the NAU; folks in the dem parties detest her & Nancy Pelosi; if elections were not rigged they would not be in Congress nor would the Gov of Oregon; the vets here in my area got 13 beds to share with women & children in need; while illegals got brand new low income housing complex’s built; I know that documents exist that other countries know about that make water boarding look like a kiss on the cheek; i know unfortunately far more than I ever wanted to know; I also the USA sent the Aids virus to Africa along with polio vaccines in 1950; all other countries know this; Isreal says what we are shown as happening in Isreal is not true; and by the time the American folks wake up & realize what is going on it will be to late; Every single one of the founding fathers on said “keep your guns”; because of the GOVERNMENT. Due to the media blockage which is EXACTLY what was done in WW11 in Germany & is illegal; but was SET UP by Bill Clinton; for such a time as this; I know the “truth is relative” term I first heard in a book unlimited access by a retired FBI agent in White House who took early retirement in disgust after Clinton’s moved in; he was told that when reprimanded by top Clinton person because he told the truth to a judge under oath; when he stated i HAD to tell the truth I was under oath: he was informed “truth is relative”; it is either TRUTH or it is a LIE; I get newsmax emails & got notified of Obama stating that Americans were the “terrorists”; I know all the Govs have met with Bush as each state is segmented off; I know NY has had a lot of violence not reported on news; I know the truckers say that most folks have no clue how bad the housing issue is; whole communities are vacant; I know that the Gov is giving out & has been disparaging to the citizens for a very long time; & specifically targeted every aspect to cause the most harm; my mom’s family came over on the Mayflower; my dad’s was here to greet them; I cannot STRESS enough how extremely vital it is for ALL folks to wake up & get smart FAST!

Report this

By Sabagio Mauraeno, July 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Yellow bird, you’re faking it right, being an ignoramus trying to make a point, like the New Yorker brain trust’s message conveyed by the Obama cover that nobody got?  Or are you just too lazy to offer some valid arguments in support of your views on the matter, trying to get by with a lame parody of a point of view you know nothing about?

Report this

By Sabagio Mauraeno, July 31, 2008 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

Yellow bird, you’re faking it right, being an ignoramus trying to make a point, like the New Yorker brain trust’s message conveyed by the Obama cover that nobody got?  Or are you just too lazy to offer some valid arguments in support of your views on the matter, trying to get by with a lame parody of a point of view you don’t anything about?

Report this

By yellowbird2525, July 31, 2008 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

said: KEEP your guns! BECAUSE OF THE GOVERNMENT! Yet obama presented as a church going man for 20 years to same church: said : YOU CLING to your RELIGION and your guns! Darn tooting! Both figurtively & literally: because WE KNOW OUR GOV well! they brought top Nazi’s over after the war & set them up handsomely to do 1 thing: study how it was done; that 1/2 of Germany had NO CLUE what was going on in their country: (just like ours is now, with the “staged” news & LACK thereof;) IT IS ILLEGAL FOLKS! (in the USA but hey hey what do you say, let’s throw our guns & religions away! NOT! the problem you see: was HOW did they manage to kill so many without any problems as the people could have easily OVERPOWERED THEM at any time; they laughed saying “they did not even have to have guns” they had so deceived the people THEY thought their Gov was “good”; MMMMM, must be why Germany is NOW being called the Fatherland to the USA; and the LIES & deliberate MISLEADING of it’s citizens well, what can I say; they DID learn from the best after all didn’t they? wonder why other countries are saying what is going on in the USA today is genocide & talking Hitler & how it was done then & how it’s being done today in the USA; it’s like an onion; i discovered trying to delve into why other countries were talking about us & I LIVE here & had no knowledge; the more you learn, the worse it gets; stick by your guns folks: literally, or figurtively; just like you do the ol time religion;

Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 15, 2008 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

Isn’t “protect and defend” also a part of the Constitution? I don’t understand this kind of reasoning from Georgia’s highest elected official who has hinted he’d like to be Sen. McCain’s running mate.

ATLANTA—Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said Monday that guns should be allowed in public areas of the nation’s busiest airport.

And he suggested his own wife might want to pack a firearm for long walks between the parking lot and the terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.

“If my wife wanted to carry a gun, if she was going from the parking lot, walking from one of those far parking lots to pick up a grandchild or something like that, I think that’s a good idea, yes,” he said Monday.

Earlier this year, Perdue, a Republican, signed legislation that allows Georgians who have passed criminal background checks to carry concealed weapons onto mass transit, as well as into state parks and restaurants that serve alcohol. The new law took effect July 1.

SURVEY: Would Carrying A Concealed Weapon Jeopardize Airport Safety?

A legal battle quickly erupted over whether the law applies to public areas of Hartsfield-Jackson before travelers pass through security checkpoints.

On the day the new law took effect, Atlanta officials who oversee the airport declared it a “gun-free zone” and said anyone carrying a gun there could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin argued that allowing guns could endanger people because airports remain attractive targets for terrorism.

Gun rights supporters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the designation, saying the airport qualifies as mass transportation and has restaurants that should be accessible under the new law.

Perdue said Monday he hasn’t asked his legal counsel for guidance and was simply offering his own “lay opinion.”

An airport official referred calls to the office of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, where a message was left seeking comment.

The law’s sponsor, state Rep. Tim Bearden, called Perdue’s comments “right on the money.”

“People have a right to defend themselves. That is what this law is about,” said Bearden, a Republican and former police officer.

A spokesman for Perdue said the governor has a gun permit but his wife does not.

A hearing is scheduled Aug. 11 in U.S. District Court for the lawsuit filed by, which wants a restraining order to keep the airport from enforcing the gun ban.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, July 3, 2008 at 3:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Sabagio, July 2 at 6:24 pm

“Catch the bastard; that’ll be one less crazy to worry about.”

Even if you don’t know who “the bastard” is or why they are being chased.

Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 2, 2008 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

What ever works for you Conservative Yankee…trust no one;watch your back;don’t look back ‘cause someone might be gaining on you. Your call.  The arguments offered here and elsewhere, whether pro or con about the good or bad of gun control are most sincere. This I truly believe. Whether we like or not, though,for as many years as we have been a democratic republic, the cat’s been out of the bag; the genie out of the bottle and the barn door has been left open, way way too long. I mean, if we as a society ever got gun control approved, and by the Supreme Court, how would we pay for it, how could we enforce gun control?

A “buy back plan” would be benign and noninvasive but very very expensive. And would “getting guns off the street” really,really happen? The Buy Back events I’ve seen collected tons of pistols,revolvers,shot guns and rifles, but none of them could stop an ally cat in heat. All the good stuff stayed at home under lock and key.

Other methods? Random drag nets? You couldn’t discriminate. Middle class neighborhoods and gated communities would have to be treated the same way as any area labeled a high crime district, or a public housing complex. Maybe house to house searches or Iraqi type “surges would work. But they are very labor intensive and expensive. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we’d lose more rights, privileges, protections and personal freedoms if we had gun control than without it?  What a quandary.  I have a friend who works at the Centers for Disease Control. A lot of the work they do entails the use of biostatistics and the study of acts of violence as a communicable disease. One set of comparative data they produced while factual, the acceptance and application of the solution proposed just wouldn’t happen….ever! Read on.

Accidental Deaths

Number of physicians in the US: 700,000.
Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year: 120,000.
Accidentaldeaths per physician…. 0.171
(U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

Number of gun owners in the US: 80,000,000.
Number of accidental gun deaths per year: 1,500 (all age groups)
Accidental deaths per gun owner: 0.0000188

Therefore, statistically,
Doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

“FACT: Not everyone has a gun, but everyone has at least one Doctor.”
Ergo: More lives would be saved if we ban doctors
Because: guns don’t kill people - doctors do

So, Conservative Yankee, be yee a Minute Man from Vermont, or a New York Minute man, I’m glad we have folks like you to depend on to watch our backs. The more of you we have at the airport, scoping out who to trust and who not to, the shorter the baggage check in line, and the faster the rest of us will board and settle in for leaving on a jet plane.
Keep up the good work.

Sabagio Mauraeno, home alone in North Georgia listening to the sounds of police pursuits going up and down I-20 West, and thinking to myself:
“Catch the bastard; that’ll be one less crazy to worry about.”

Report this

By Maani, July 2, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment


Sadly, this is the kind of thing we can expect from the NRA and those who support it - though we might also expect any attempted radical changes in gun control laws to be struck down by the SC, since the majority ruling indicated that “prohibitions on carrying concealed or dangerous and unusual weapons, such as machine guns, were not in doubt.”  Indeed, the majority opinion CLEARLY states that they were considering ONLY home ownership of guns, and NOT “carrying” of “concealed weapons.”

As well, with respect to our disagreement over the term “militia,” here is the majority opinion language, with which I agree:

“The militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.  The Anitfederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule.  The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of citizens to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.”

Thus, as I noted (and although my language may have been somewhat “broader”), a “militia,” and those who comprised it, were ALSO given the right to keep and bear arms against potential illegal actions of our own government.


Report this

By Conservative Yankee, July 2, 2008 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Sabagio, July 2 at 12:57 pm

“That means anyone carrying a gun at Hartsfield-Jackson who is not authorized…”

Who “authorizes?”

What makes these “authorized folks” imune to mental illness?

If there are guns (at the airport) it is not a “gun-free zone”

The US has more nuclear weapons than everyone else on the earth combined…. So when they talk “disarmerment” most folks on the other side of the table wink and nod…

I would feel very comfortable leaving my gun at home were I in a truly “gun free zone… But I for one don’t trust the “security folks” any more than I trust the criminals…law-enforcement indeed.

Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

Yesterday in Atlanta Georgia, our Mayor, Shirley Franklin, all 5 foot of her declared Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport a “gun-free zone.

Today the GeorgiaCarry.Org filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Shirley Franklin and Hartsfield Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta over what they say “their illegal policy and DeCosta’s specific threat to arrest (falsely) Rep. Tim Bearden the lawyer who wrote, sponsored and got passed HB 89 that declares the policy of the state of Georgia, is that transportation terminals are no longer off limits for persons with permits to carry concealed gun.  Their lawyers said that the newly enacted state law that permits licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons in more public places. Their first test was Atlanta’s city-run airport.

Mayor Shirley Franklin told reporters at a news conference said that permitting guns inside an airport, even weapons carried by permit holders, would create an unsafe environment that “would endanger millions of people” She said the airport now and forever will be a gun free zone.  That means anyone carrying a gun at Hartsfield-Jackson whois not authorized as part of the airport’s security policy, will be arrested.

And so it goes, today July 2,2008. Or is it July 2 1888 in Carson City , Nevada the sheriff and the town bully facing off at high in the middle of Main Street to find out who’s the fastest gun in the West?

Report this

By Maani, July 2, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Thought all of you might find this interesting:


Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

It makes as much sense to conclude that Shakespeare favored lawyers’ place in society since the “kill the lawyers” joke is expressed by villains, who later commit murderous deeds (“there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score”) as to believe in these contemporary times that this statement reflects an approval of Libertarian thought, and a warning about Communists.

Finkelstein elaborates…:

Now, just after this exchange, the scene changes tone. The gang commits the murder of the clerk of Chatham. Here is the second level of Shakespeare’s commentary on law and layers on, where the murder is carried out according to scrupulous procedure, a parody of law:

I am sorry for’t: the man is a proper man, of mine honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.- Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?
By this contrast Shakespeare thus makes in an alternating, connected, comedic and tragic manner the age-old point about the difference between *law* (and those who argue it) and *justice*.
Cade makes up his “version” of law to his own ends, to the justification of his evil deeds, which is reminiscent of the context which commonly provokes “kill the lawyers” (where the phrase is in wry protest of actions thought to be the same in form, if not in degree). Far from being “out of context” the usage is more true to the original than most people know.

Now, compares this to the description given by the web page “Lawyers are Our Friends!”

Cade’s friend Dick the Butcher, being only barely smarter than Cade, knew Cade’s scheme could not succeed if the learned advisors to the real King actually investigated Cade’s lineage. So, Dick the Butcher advised Cade that “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” hoping that this tactic would prevent Cade from being discovered as an imposter.

At least in Shakespeare’s time, lawyers were regarded as the protectors of truth.
Finkelstein seems taken aback by this statement.  He writes: “That may be true that lawyers are protectors of some sort, but it doesn’t seem to be of the truth!
In many of his other plays, Shakespeare used lawyers as figures of derision on several occasions. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Mercutio uses the line “O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;”

In “King Lear”, the fool defends a speech in riddles by comparing it to an “unfee’d lawyer”:

This is nothing, fool.

Then ‘tis like the breath of an unfee’d lawyer, - you gave me nothing for’t. - Can you make no use of nothing, uncle?

There’s a very long and lawyer-uncomplimentary passage in Hamlet.

There’s another: why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum!
Not a jot more, my lord.

“As long as there are lawyers, there will be “lawyer jokes”. And lawyers will show how those jokes ring true by trying to explain how such lampooning really constitutes praise for their profession, thus by example justifying the jokes more than ever. “

Thus Spake the Finkelstein, as interpreted by Sabagio Mauraeno on a hot afternoon at home in Decatur Georgia, where on this Day, July 1, 2008, tis now legal by writ of the the lawyers and lawmakers of the Georgia General Assembly, to carry concealed weapons into airports, restaurants and public parks.

2nd Amendment rights being practiced? The jury is still out.

Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 1, 2008 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

...Pedants the world over take great delight in catching the Misread and Misinformed in error, especially when the Bard is cited. But Shakespeare wrote the words, spoken by a character who is all accounts…mentally challenged and not socially acceptable then or now.  Time and again he took opportunities in his plays to vent his frustrations and rages against the outrageous…well he vented in public in ways that wouldn’t get his head cut off if he had done so in any other way than at the Rose or the Globe.

My intent was to inject some comedy relief into a discussion of a serious matter that may put more of us in harm’s way than protect us from evil. Yeah, according to Justice Scalia, The Law, is The Law, is the Law. This comes from a man who prides himself as being an “Absolutist.”

What comes to mind though, is, is it Justice? Doesn’t justice count for something?

  The Majority who wrote their opinion on the 2nd Amendment, lawyers at the peak of their profession,  just don’t get it, just as the lawyers who interpret Shakespeare’s remark as being favorable to the law profession, just-don’t-get it.

  A “for instance” is an essay by Seth Finkelstein, an academic at MIT. He points out that Shakespeare was making a lawyer joke.  In addition, lawyers didn’t get it.  He quotes a law firm, Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP, in support of this assessment. 

Dickstein, state:

“The first thing we do,” said the character in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, is “kill all the lawyers.” Contrary to popular belief, the proposal was not designed to restore sanity to commercial life. Rather, it was intended to eliminate those who might stand in the way of a contemplated revolution—thus underscoring the important role that lawyers can play in society. Thus sayeth Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky LLP
Finkelstein cites another source of convoluted logic, THIKING LIKE A LAWYER:

“As the famous remark by the plotter of treachery in Shakespeare’s King Henry VI shows - “The first thing we must do is kill all the lawyers,” - the surest way to chaos and tyranny even then was to remove the guardians of independent thinking.
S.M: Uh Huh!!!
Interpreting Shakespeare’s remark as being favorable to lawyers is to Finkelstein and a whole lot of other folks, “a marvel of sophistry, a twisting of the meaning of words in an unfamiliar source, a disregard of the evident intent of the original author and ad hominem attack.”

He goes on:
“Whoever first came up with this interpretation surely must have been a lawyer who stopped thinking when he found something he could agree to and went no further.”

The rest of Finkelstein’s essay reads as follows:

It makes as much sense to conclude that Shakespeare favored lawyers place in society since the “kill the lawyers” joke is expressed by villains, who later commit murderous deeds “there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score” as to believe in contemporary times that this is an approval of Libertarian thought, and a warning about Communists.

To be continued, after this break for ice cream and cake, by Sabagio of Georgia

Report this

By Maani, July 1, 2008 at 7:04 am Link to this comment


You repeat an oft-made error in taking Shakespeare out of context.

The line - “The first thing we do - let’s kill all the lawyers” - is spoken by a criminal, and Shakespeare’s intent here is 180 degrees from what most people believe: lawyers help to (among other things) protect people from the likes of the speaker of the line.

Here is a link that explains this oft-made mistake in detail:


Report this

By Conservative Yankee, July 1, 2008 at 4:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Restrictions don’t work. particularly restrictions making an item illegal after it has been legal here-to-fore. Prohibition, the war on drugs, have been abject failures, and totalitarian Countries have no better record in restrictions. note the one-child policy in China.

Actually this argument is over, probably for our lifetime at least. The Supreme Court is not in the habit of overturning (quickly) the decisions of previous courts, So perhaps some court will allow registration of firearms at some later date, or perhaps some court will find that D.C. residents may keep arms in their homes, but may not move them outside those homes… BUT the larger question is how will the majority of folks who own guns react to these laws… in other words will I register ALL my guns, or will I register one?

there are 280 million (known) guns in the homes of US citizens. This is a large enough number to arm every citizen over the age of 5.  Those guns will be here for a long long time, and aggravating the owners might be counter productive.  It is believed that 40 to 45% of US citizens are gun owners… Now that’s a minority, but not a minority ANY politician wants voting against them.  witness Barak’s back-pedal on his “beliefs”

Report this
Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, July 1, 2008 at 3:05 am Link to this comment

In the Beginning there was THE GOOD Idea, the Declaration of Independence.

Followed by the good idea with the bad execution, The Articles of Confederation.

Then there were the Federalist Papers,  written debates on the best way to replace the good idea with the bad execution, the Articles of Confederation, with a much, much better idea, the Constitution and a Federation.

These were followed by the Great Debate about what the final draft of the Constitution should be, with the rules to guide the Powers that Be on conducting the affairs of state on behalf of , and in the best interests of We the People, the Good Idea that got everything about US started in the first place. 

The much hoped-for Final Solution, the completion of that last draft of The Constitution, was tacitly acknowledged by Constitution Conventioneers as “this is the best we can come up with in this hot weather, so let’s sign off on this thing, go home,rest up, cool off, and work out the details at a later date, sometime in the Future.” 

“Working out the details” began with the First 10 Amendments to the Final Draft of the Much, Much Better Idea, US’s Constitution.  The rest is history,namely ” And the debate goes, and the Debate goes on.”

Now we are left in the midst of this great field of words, to wonder and ponder “how long will this be going on?”

Perplexing? Sure! Just as perplexing as the question posed by St.Thomas Aquinas, many, many years prior: “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin before they all fall off and have to start trying to get back on again?”

Or something like that.

The product, outcome of   US’s series of Good Ideas, Great Debates, Final Solutions to the Constitution, is the Never-ending Conundrum, the conglomerate of questions having only conjectural answers. 

At this point in Time,  the most recent interpretation of the 2nd Amendment serves as the best example of the sum and substance of the Never-ending Conundrum.  It is a drama forever being played out, never closing, a play that only The Lawyers could love, to honor, with standing ovations. 

Leave it to Shakespeare,though, to come up with the Ultimate Solution to Our Never-ending Conundrum: “Kill all the Lawyers!”

Sabagio Mauraeno, home alone in Decatur,Georgia pondering about what the Next Day will bring.

Report this

By cyrena, June 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

By JNagarya,


Thanks for your response #166073. It was in reply to my thoughts about states rights to make their own laws, (and then some).

I found it really helpful, and worth adding to my collection.

Thanks again.

Report this

By Maani, June 30, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment


You say, “[T]he amendment says ‘shall not be infringed.’ How can ANY intelligent person think that restrictions can be applied?”

You err here.  Even Constitutional rights are not “absolute.”  This is why, despite your right to free speech, it is a crime to shout “fire” in a theater.  Constitutional rights may be “limited” in certain specific situations.

Re guns, I agree that the OWNERSHIP of a gun cannot be “infringed,” certain restrictions MAY be placed on such ownership.  For example, the requirement to register as a gun owner.  And the manner in which a gun may be kept.  As well, the TYPE of gun: after all, the founders were clearly not talking about AK-47s, Uzis, and the like: they were talking about rifles (and possibly pistols, though not semi-automatic Glochs).

Thus, restrictions and requirements re gun ownership are perfectly legal, as are the majority of gun control laws vis-a-vis public safety.


Report this

By bestpix, June 30, 2008 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

Most gun owners would probably call me a “pinko-commie scumbag”, yet I agree with almost everything ER wrote;  the amendment says “shall not be infringed”  How can ANY intelligent person think that restrictions can be applied?  (Mr Scalia!)

I want my Apache attack helicopter (fully armed of course)!

Report this

By Sean, June 30, 2008 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First, Laurence Tribe, one of the top US Constitution experts actually went and tried to do the same thing you are doing right now, argue and find the history of the 2nd Amendment, he was against and a strong supporter of Anti-Gun Laws. After a lot of research he said it did mean an individual right and he went into the research looking for find against it. Also, much like the writer, how is it possible that ALL the other rights in the Bill of Rights are individual but that one is not? The founders new that as long as the people were allowed to bear arms to much power in the gov’t was not an easy thing to do without the consent of the people. To those who argue that it was not, do not just do selective readings of books that already agree with your view point, when you do that as many have done in this thread, you negate your arguments.

Report this

By JNagarya, June 30, 2008 at 5:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This means the Tenth Amendment is as much about the States as it is about the people.

“This is actually the bottom line.”

No, the bottom line is this: the Tenth is irrelevant to the meaning and application of the other Amendments because those other Amendments exist.

Neither the Ninth nor Tenth substitute for or alter or negate any of the other Amendments.  They are irrlelvant to the issue.

Report this

By Adlan, June 30, 2008 at 3:40 am Link to this comment

I’d like to chip in with my first comment on TruthDig, and I’d like to tell you what I, a Middle Class 19 year old from England thinks about this. England, as you may know, has not had firearms ownership for self defense in over 50 years. We currently have a very unclear rules about self defense and what is and is Not considered ‘reasonable force’.

And we have a Complete Ban on all Handguns (excepting muzzleloaders).

I think this descision is a great Idea.

You know why? Because I’ve been held up at knife point multiple times, by people who’ve later been arrested for firearms possesion, I know exactly how easy it is to get a Handgun in the Uk, and How Cheap, I know that the only reason more criminals are not armed is that they feel they have no need to be in a disarmed population.

The Crime Rate has gone up steadily, with a matching rise in the restrictions on Gun Ownership in the UK. However, I think Crime would have gone up anyway. What I do think is that if we had a better right to self defense, we’d have less of a crime problem.

Most Gun Crime in the Uk is Criminal on Criminal, because they have the guns. But, the number of guns keeps increasing, and increasing. Used to be only major crime gangs used firearms, then it was the major drug dealers, now it’s minor drug dealers, and now it’s my peers, more often than not, because owning a gun gets them ‘respect on the street’.

The Uk has been trying to control guns for nearly 100 years. We are a Small Island, And we can’t manage it. So, what makes America Think they can, with their thousands and thousands of miles of empty border and coastline?

You cannot Legislate the Guns out of Criminals Hands. The Only people who obey Gun Laws, are those citizens who are not a problem with Guns, so why would you want to disarm them in the first place? They arn’t gonna rob you, or shoot you for your car keys.

So, back to why I think this is a good Idea:
1. I think it accurately interprets the 2nd Amendment. Wether or not you agree with it, I think the 2nd Amendment does define the Right to keep and Bear arms as an Individual right, and as a Right for Self defense from Goverment and Criminals. If you don’t agree with this, move somewhere where this isn’t part of the founding document. I’ll happily swap places with you.

2. If you can’t get the guns out of criminals hands, shouldn’t there be a level playing field? A Bit of a groutesque analogy I know, but really, I think the right to life, and the right the self defense that the right to life means, is one of the most important rights and instincts we have as human beings. Actually, even if you could get the guns out of criminals hands, it still isn’t a level playing field. It might be fair for me, a Fit and healthy young male. How fair is it for an 80year old grandma, or my 15 year old sister?.

This is a Bit of a Muddle. But what I’d like to say is that, in my opinion at least, Gun control fails to make people safer. If you could get rid of all the guns with a snap of your finger, it still wouldn’t make people safer.

If Guns were the Problem, Switzerland would be a hell hole. The Problem is criminals, and how you deal with that is a completely different matter than the right to bear arms, and the right to self defense.

Report this

By J. Mezure Carter, June 29, 2008 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Robinson thinks that “. . . the idea that the Founders’ “original intent” should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony—as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet,” is an example of how difficult it is to govern a country by using a document that can quickly become outdated.  And although the constitution has a mechanism for amending it, no document can be explicit enough to address the complications that occur in a complex society.  When we speak of “original intent” we cannot possibly regard this as something that could live for hundreds of years after its intended purpose.  The rights and duties that a citizen has within any culture are often complicated by the inability of one generation trying to spell them out into perpetuity for future generations.  The 18th century merchants and landowners who formulated the constitution not only had no idea of the technology that would be available in the 21st century but they never considered mass education as a means to democratize a culture.  Instead of reading the federalist paper, one should read the rules and regulations that governed the colonies.  For well over a century, people lived under the dictates of an absentee landlord who dictated assigned sumptuary and vestmental behavior.  This included every public and private activity.  In every way, both public and private, how you spoke and to whom you spoke, your formal and informal attire, the types of food you were allowed to eat and so many other daily activities, that we consider today as personal expression, were defined.  The Bill of Rights does not address these vital personal freedoms because they were considered intractable.  Only strict disciplinary training could prevail over these personal activities.  But two centuries later incivility, one of the mainstays attributes of courtesy, has degenerated into the right to bear arms and as such, the Second Amendment now serves as the arbiter of civility.

Report this

By JNagarya, June 29, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This should better be titled:

“When the Constitution is Unconstitutional”.

Report this

By JNagarya, June 29, 2008 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“By Maani, June 29 at 8:39 am #

“Although I am a committed pacifist, I empathize with ER: I was shocked to find myself agreeing with the majority decision on this issue, but primarily for the reason necrolugosi (and others) put forth.”

And you agree with it because ignorant of history and the DEBATES by those who WROTE the Second Amendment.

“As has been pointed out, the word “militia” has more than one meaning.”

Not accoring to the Framers.  It was exclusively intended to be a substitute for standing armies.  And it has NEVER been viewed as an “individual”.

“. . . militias were made up of local citizens banding together to protect life and property from any and all dangers.”

No they were not.  Thet were formal gov’t entities operating under RULE OF LAW: ours is a CIVILIAN gov’t not willing for overthrow by armed gangs running around outside the law.

The members of the militia were FORMALLY ENLISTED, as with ANY military organization.

READ your state constitution: from that you’ll learn that the head of the states militia is the states GOVERNOR.  Is the state’s GOVERNOR going to “defend against” the gov’t OF WHICH HE IS HEAD!?

“If a larger “force” were to threaten them, these militias would come together as a larger unit - instead of a “standing army,” which, as has been ponted out, the framers were very much against (and, sadly, for which we have Lincoln to thank).”

Gibberish.  The purposes of the militia are stipulated in the Constitution: to enforce the laws of the Union, to repel invasion, and to suppress insurrections.  And, because we are a CIVILIAN gov’t, the militia is regulated, by CONGRESS, BY MEANS OF RULE OF LAW.  That is how we REGULATE: BY MEANS OF LAW.

READ the DEBATES by those who WROTE the Second Amendment: Creating the Bill of Rights: The Documentary Record from the First Federal Congress (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins), Ed. by Veit, et al.—readily available from such as Amazon.  Why speculate NRA nonsense when you can readily and easily get the facts?

Report this

By 666, June 29, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is a doctrine of violent society that is spread entre the states and around the world.

But the facts are different.  While premature death are sad the United States does not have the violence of the Brazilian Favelas.  The United States does not have NPA roaming the Bongdo as in the Flipinas.  The United States has only had one Timmothy Mc Vey.

The Second Amendment is vital in a reduction of violence here.  In countries were there is an absolute right to bare arms and thus vigilante protection of life and property only the criminals and rebels have guns.

The good citizen in those nations most often are dead when the army arrives or killed in the cross fire if the army gets there on time.

The most important think for am American to believe is that his fellow American is a creature who is not divine but almost an angel.

To continue to believe that the guy next door is a terrorist, a serial killer, or a pedefile plays into the hands of a government that is willing to help you restrain your neighbor if it can only restrain you first.

Report this

By Maani, June 29, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Although I am a committed pacifist, I empathize with ER: I was shocked to find myself agreeing with the majority decision on this issue, but primarily for the reason necrolugosi (and others) put forth.

As has been pointed out, the word “militia” has more than one meaning.  Perhaps its primary meaning was vis-a-vis a larger “military” group; i.e., militias were made up of local citizens banding together to protect life and property from any and all dangers.  If a larger “force” were to threaten them, these militias would come together as a larger unit - instead of a “standing army,” which, as has been ponted out, the framers were very much against (and, sadly, for which we have Lincoln to thank).

However, because militias were local (for the “security of a free State” - NOT country), they were (as at least one person pointed out) also founded to protect against illegal actions or or incursions by THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT.  And while much sport is made of modern day militias being a bunch of Midwestern yokels who see “black helicopters” everywhere, they are actually functioning exactly within this long-forgotten definition of “militia.”  And given the direction this country is going - proto-totalitarian, with such federal powers as eminent domain being abused, etc. - I believe this is the MOST important aspect of the decision (perhaps unwittingly): that it protects the rights of citizens to arm themselves in case of illegal or unwarranted FEDERAL intrusion.

Like Felicity, I would never personally own or use a gun.  But given potential futures, I cannot in good conscience (to say nothing of socio-political reality) argue against the rights of citizens to arm themselves for at least this reason.


Report this

By JNagarya, June 29, 2008 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“BUT, hopefully that sort of provides an example for my point about States’ rights. As a general rule, States SHOULD be able to legislate -for themselves- what their laws should be, based on the dynamics of their local constituencies.”

That’s exactly how the Founders/Framers dealt with the private, individual ownership of guns: it was viewed as a local issue, with a few exceptions:

1.  In 1776, with “The Tory Act,” the Continental Congress suggested that the states DISARM the Tories.  And the founders in the states did so.

2.  Separately, they also PROHIBITED possession of weapons by those who were not, on one hand, Tories, but were, on the other, “disaffected with the revolution”.

3.  In 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution, again for the states, which was called a “Test”.  It was, in fact, a “loyalty oath”.  And the states followed suit and enacted such “Test” statutes.

What was the “Test”?  If a person REFUSED to SIGN a WRITTEN LOYALTY OATH “TO THE CAUSE,” ALL his weapons—and “instruments of war”—were CONFISCATED, and either given to the Continental Army, or to the local LEGAL militia.

4.  They also enacted “impressment” laws.  “Impressment” is a term of art which covered several grounds, including draft/conscription—“pressing” persons into military service.

Another meaning was the CONFISCATION of weapons from those NOT using them to “fight the revolution,” and giving them to those who WOULD use them for that purpose.

Thus it is obvious not only that the Founders/Framers wer NOT opposed to gun control laws, they were also NOT opposed to FEDERAL gun control laws applying equally to ALL the states.  Thus the proper approch is not to add more guns to the already-over-gunned mix but instead to enact a Federal law to regulated gun sales across state lines.  MA, as example, has a mandatory in jail for illegal possession of a hand gun.  And that’s how the vast majority in MA want it.  However, one can cross the state line in NH and there buy a gun virtually no questions asked with only a personal ID, such as a driver’s license. 

And then there’s the interstate transporation of guns from such as GA and VA into MA.  A Federal law prohibiting such transportation across state lines would radically reduce the number of gun crimes in jurisdictions where the laws are as the majority wants them to be.

Instead we have a gun industry-front NRA that is essentially an advertising campaign by an industry that wants to increase sales of its product every year, or quarter.  And they do so with an advertising campaign which falsifies history and law in combination with the politics of fear and paranoia, and appeals to racism.

Another bright red line the SC ignored: the militia is a PUBLIC institution; the private, individual gun-owner is not.  Thus there are TWO bodies of law regulating, on one hand, armed force, and on the other, private, individual ownership of guns. 

Those are all “nuance” to the simpleton’s “arguments” from gun-nuts: their premise is that they are about “defending the Constitution”—but everything claim based upon that is wholly against reason, reality, rule of law, and Constitution.

Report this

By AT, June 29, 2008 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As Gwbush has said recently, you risk of being irrelevant. So the Supreme Court confirmed that all our laws are not null and void just by signing a directive. No, the Supreme Court will not be irrelevant any time soon.

Report this

By Sabagio Mauraenog, June 29, 2008 at 5:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I kinda agree with you Eugene, that it was a fait acompli that the Court would side with the arguments of the gun lobby.  It was disappointing that the majority decision didn’t propose an option such as the one the Court did years ago when they issued their decision on pornography . The argument was that Freedom of speech and the press had to be maintained, but it was up to the community and a local consensus to decide what was porn and what was not.  By the same reasoning Hand gun ownership and its promotion as a “crime stopper” are also in their ways pornography.  Hand guns are designed to kill just people.  When I go to the local gun firing range these days, the target ain’t the “bulleye” its the outline in black of a human. Stray dogs and errant black bears are afforded more humane treatment when being exterminated with a rifle or immobilized with a taser gun than the typical abused wife and mother. She’s honored by getting shot with a hand gun 10 or 15 times by a husband whose self image is so skewed and whose insecurities are so pervasive that he vents his fears and rage by the bullying and murder of a defenseless human being who has the misfortune of loving him. TV crime shows reinforce the connection between pornagraphy and hand gun ownership every night of the week; the opening scenes of say, Law and Order SUV and the CSI conglomerates more often than not pulls in their audiences by depicting the slaughter of pretty young women, sometimes more recently of young children, upclose and personal. Isn’t this the way Pornagraphy is marketed? Legalized voyeurism?

The Court could have used this argument and not go against precendent. Like DC and other high crime areas in the US, each community would still be able to decide the efficacy of hand gun ownership and sales by individuals. “Local control and States Rights?”  Hasn’t that been the cornorstone ideology of the Republican Right Wing since Nixon and his Southern Strategy?  Several years ago, Kennesaw, Georgia passed an ordinance requiring every adult residing within its city limits OWN a hand gun. To this day, no person or group has challenged this edict in court. It’s thought of as a local thing, left to people who want to live in Kennesaw.

To me, the Court lost a great opportunity to make a ruling that would let us have a say about hand guns or no guns in the same way we dole out liquor licenses to alchoholics and drivers’ permits to immature kids and senile adults who don’t know what staying in the right lane of a two lane blacktop means.

Sabagio Mauraeno

Home alone in Decatur Georgia, behind a locked and bolted door, sitting next to an open gun cabinet.

Report this

By Lily Maskew, June 28, 2008 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it remains to be seen if more lenient gun laws lead to more shootings.

Report this

By cyrena, June 28, 2008 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment


You’re absolutely right about the pardon Clinton gave to those cop killers. But, you’ve gotta admit that on the local level, that ain’t the way it generally works out.

I remember an incident in LA several years ago, where a gang of thugs was doing a robbery somewhere, and when the police arrived, they found themselves totally out gunned by the gang of thieves. I remember they had to break in to some weapons outlet, (gun store?) so they could get up to speed with bigger and more assault weapons, to finish the fight with the bad guys. (sounds like a movie, eh?)

Anyway, after the shootout had pretty well died down,  one of the crooks was lying off to the side wounded, and the cops apparently dithered in getting him immediate medical help. (probably didn’t care if the bastard died on the scene). I can’t remember if that one actually died before help arrived, but another one or two of them did get killed in the process. And, either the wounded guy that didn’t get immediate medical help, OR the family of one of the dead ones. (I can’t remember which) eventually SUED the LAPD for failing to get them help quickly enough.

I think they won, but I couldn’t swear to that either, and I’m not sure that I really wanna know. All of the other details were more than I could take anyway.

BUT, hopefully that sort of provides an example for my point about States’ rights. As a general rule, States SHOULD be able to legislate -for themselves- what their laws should be, based on the dynamics of their local constituencies. In the more rural areas of the nation, say where you live, ANY particular weapon may have a genuinely useful purpose, as you’ve mentioned. It’s used as a tool. Believe it or not, such a weapon might actually have come in handy right here in my own community, about a month ago. A black bear was spotted right behind our communications complex. Campus staff watched in awe as he/she lumbered along through what is basically a slough that separates the road from the airport runway. Signs were posted on nearly every square inch of space, advising about the black bear on the loose, (except not really, since he/she hadn’t ‘escaped’ from anywhere, and probably lived in the nearby mountains on the other side of the highway) and telling people to watch their kids very carefully.

The animal people were called out, (fish and game?) and I don’t know whatever may or may not have become of the bear. Obviously, if someone had a gun, they would probably have shot it.

Normally though, the more urbanized areas of the nation don’t really benefit from having every citizen armed to the teeth. That’s why it might make more sense to leave this type of legislation in the hands of the states.

Report this

By JNagarya, June 28, 2008 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the intellectually dishonest Scalia and his extremist cohorts notwithstanding.

This is the first draft of that which became the Second Amendment.  The only posited individual right debated by the Congress that framed the Bill of Rights, as concerns the Second, is the last clause of it:

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best defense of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled [INVOLUNTARY] to render military service in person.”

The last clause was voted down, the result being that the Second Amendment has nothing whatever to do with “individual” anything.  Further: the Second Amendment DOES NOT “protect” whatever is within its scope FROM the rule of law.  See “Militia Act” of 1792, which regulates the militia obviously within the scope of the Second, which latter was ratified in 1791.

As for the plurals and singulars in that, this is the measure: “We the people”.  It is not “I the people,” or “We the individual”.

Even the barely literate recognize that “people” is plural.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, June 28, 2008 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


“And, what generally happens as a result? Like, how are cop killers generally dealt with?”

Depends what color they are… Clinton pardoned a bunch of them (FALN) when he left office.

Report this

By Quinty, June 28, 2008 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

The 2nd Ammendment is archaic. It is a museum piece along with the Electoral College. The wording is so vague it is only meaningful to the original framers. In an 18th Century way.

So of course “common sense” is thrown out the window, and the people of Washington D.C. can’t choose for themselves whether any bloke can walk about their streets with a gun or not. And don’t we know, coolly and logically thinking, that no 18th century framer in his right mind ever thought this ammendment, intended to ward of tyrrany, would be used to defend some “wild west” principle of individuality? Against all common sense? And reason?

Report this

By cyrena, June 28, 2008 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

Karl makes this very important notice:

•  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This means the Tenth Amendment is as much about the States as it is about the people.

This is actually the bottom line. Or, at least that’s how the Constitution has been read up to now. In short, unless specifically delegated to the US by the Constitution, States’ rights are intended to supersede federal rights. The flip side is that the Federal court exists to protect individuals against states.

Another example of this when the Feds overrule the states, (contrary to the constitution) is the California Law to legalize marijuana. It was decided by ballot initiative. Californians voted to legalize the stuff. (I think 2000 but I couldn’t swear to that – around then). The feds have since arbitrarily raided, invaded, whatever you wanna call it, those farms and clinics involved in the growing and distribution of not only marijuana, but hemp as well. The hemp of course is grown and used for other purposes, (besides medicinal or just plain old getting high) but either way…the California statute allows it. That would appear to make the federal action (burning the farms, shutting down the clinics, and imprisoning the citizens involved) unconstitutional. 

Jim Yell, I love this:

•  “But, reality says that a substantial number of people who wish personal guns are people who are marginal personalities. In other words they need the gun because they aren’t very smart or have small—-you know.”

So true, so true. wink

Sad to say, these are of course the same ones who use arsenals in mass shootings. Campuses and malls and such.

How often has anyone reading or posting here, been aware of any occasions when ‘we the people’ individually or as a group, have needed to rise up against, (and shoot) the ‘authorities’? And, what generally happens as a result? Like, how are cop killers generally dealt with?

Report this

By samosamo, June 28, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Yeah, guns produce a lot of funerals but if I was at home and some meth head broke in and came at me, his/hers would be a funeral worthy of the right to bear arms. Human life in never so sacred that a person should not be able to defend their life, loved ones, property and country. That is why the 2nd amendment says the right to bear arms shall NOT BE INFRINGED, so that a person can defend what he needs with any available means. And it has to be the people because what are the police? They are basically historians, they write up reports and then go looking for perpatrators.
The problem now with guns is in large part the education and respect of a tool that can be benefical or a heavy liability. It is not just the idea of ‘I have a gun now I will have something to back myself up’ mentality, it has to entail the respect of the weapon to become educated as to know as absolutlely as one can as to when to use it against another person.
And with the education systems in this country, it is a wonder that more funerals aren’t the norm and that in not a reason to legislate guns into a criminal act for just possession. I cannot stand justice scalia(sp) but he is correct to support the 2nd amendment for what it is, the right to possess guns.
And with the population bulging at the seams there are more and more people that will not just deserve but will earn that funeral in a legal way because the percentage of people that are criminals remains sort of static, the numbers grow according to the contiunal explosion of the human population on this planet.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, June 28, 2008 at 8:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve got an old 1943 shotgun which belonged to my Grandfather.  I never had to fire it in “self defense” but I once pumped it when I heard someone in my kitchen late at night (many years ago)  I pumped the gun once, and heard “Oeee-SHIT” and the pattering of running feet, then the slam of the screen-door.

The poor bastard (as near as I can tell) was atepmting to steal some bread and cheese I had left on the kitchen table.

If he had rung the bell, I’d have made him breakfast!

Report this

By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 28, 2008 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

felicity, it might also help to mention that you’re a really pissed-off person, as well.

Report this

By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 28, 2008 at 6:59 am Link to this comment

felicity, I forgot to throw in that your land is mined with ied’s.

Report this

By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 28, 2008 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Why stop there?  Your sign should say:  Beware of Homeowner and 14 wives.  We have a full arsenal of hand weapons and are expert in their use.  In addition, we have two pit bulls, a rotweiller, and three dysfunctional german shepherds, all classified as attack dogs.  If you value your life, stay away!

Report this

By felicity, June 28, 2008 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

Can anyone explain the reasoning of the Court behind the wording of its recent decision on gun ownership, that a gun may be owned for “self defense.”  Why the ‘self defense’ add-on?  Or did I hear it mis-quoted, which I hope is the case because the add-on is beyond ludicrous.

(I’d never own a gun but I’m thinking of putting a sign on my fence, ‘Beware of Armed Homeowner.’ Probably do more to keep out whomever than a gun hidden under a pillow - not to mention a lot less dangerous to me and mine.)

Report this
Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, June 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Here’s a libertarian angle on the whole concept of the right to bear arms.

The real issue is: should we trust government officials to possess guns, but not trust ordinary citizens to possess them?

The sordid history of the twentieth century tells us otherwise. Far, far more murders were committed by armed governments over disarmed citizens, than by any mafia group, criminal gang, or drug lord. Gun confiscation laws were very effective for the Nazis, who used them to murder millions of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies—you name it. Gun confiscation was very useful for the Soviet and Chinese communist dictatorships, who murdered (by conservative estimate) twenty million of their disarmed citizens.

I’ll take my chances any day of the week with a mere scumbag mafioso, as opposed to a strutting, imperious, “I have all the answers” government officer. Of course, I’d rather have neither, but if I had to choose—

How many people did the mafia kill in the course of the twentieth century? A few hundred? May a few thousand?

How many legally disarmed people did governments kill in the course of the twentieth century? Thirty million? Fifty million? A hundred million?

I congratulate the author for at least being honest. The Founders understood that armed governments are far more dangerous than armed citizens. The Second Amendment clearly spells out, in unequivocal terms, an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Report this

By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

May I direct your attention to the Iraqi constitution which it is my understanding the Americans, out of generosity, helped the poor Iraqis draft( because they couldn’t do it themselves.)
Nowhere I could see the Iraqis were guaranteed the right to bear arms and, in fact, Article 9, Clause B expressly prohibits the formation of militia outside the government.  WTF? 

In all those articles dealing with individual rights, though many mimic those of our own consitiution, the word firearm, arms or gun is never mentioned.

Now, I ask you, how could America omit from the Iraqi constitution something in its own deemed so sacred?

Interestingly, the Iraqi constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to health care which is provided by the government.  Duh?!

Report this

By dihey, June 27, 2008 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

The irony of the Supreme Court ruling is that both sides were “correct!” The way I understand our constitution is that it does not specifically allow nor specifically forbid individuals to own “arms”. Hence the Court should never have taken the case and that is what Senator Obama should have said. What he did say shows that he is just another arrogant lawyer who believes that the Constitution was written for him to explain it to me. Sorry Barack, I do not need your disgusting legalistic tinkering. I am sufficiently intelligent to read the “Bill of Rights” without your help which is exactly what the framers intended. The city of Washington was in my opinion completely within the bounds of the second amendment to forbid individuals to have “arms” in their homes. What the “five constitutional rapists” and you did was to dig in legalistic manure to find a reason why that is not so.
One of the multitude of other actions by “we the people” which our constitution neither forbids nor demands is “gay marriage”. Hey, Obama, you Giant of Lawyers, I hope you will keep your addled brain away from that one but I doubt that you will because you will have to distance yourself publicly from your friend Jim Wallis.

Report this

By Michael Crumpton, June 27, 2008 at 11:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess biological weapons, bazookas, cruise missiles and atom bombs all fall within the definition of arms, so I guess they all should be legal.

The fact is that this ruling will cause more people to die. Police will feel they need to be more aggressive because the chance of encountering an armed suspect will rise. There will be many more accidental shootings of children and relatives, because people are basically pretty irresponsible, careless, and liable to use a weapon if it is available and they are frightened.

If the rationale is that we need arms to be able to overthrow a tyrannical government, then we will need something a lot more substantial than handguns. We need the right to bear RPGs and IEDs.

Report this

By P. T., June 27, 2008 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Southerners feared that Northerners opposed to slavery might use the federal government to disarm the militias, as a way of undermining slavery (by lessening the South’s ability to deal with a slave revolt).

The Second Amendment was not about freedom—just the opposite.  It was about slavery.

Report this

By Karl, June 27, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whatever the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment might be, the suggestion that the first ten amendments to the Constitution represent a unified “charter of individual rights” is not entirely correct. When Congress sent a set of proposed amendments to the states in 1789 there were 12 proposed amendments. The first dealt with the size of the House of Representatives (it was never ratified). The second dealt with changes in congressional pay (it was not ratified until 1992). Neither relate to individual rights. So it is inaccurate to conclude that the Second Amendment must necessarily refer to an individual right because it was included with amendments like the First that do enumerate those rights.

The articles we now call the First and Second Amendments were in fact the third and fourth amendments of the set passed by Congress. There is therefore no particular significance to the order of the amendments. The First Amendment is only “first” due to a historical accident.

It should also be noted that two other Amendments in the Bill of Rights don’t really address “individual rights.” The Seventh Amendment requires juries in civil cases. The Tenth Amendment is about governmental power and federalism. It reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This means the Tenth Amendment is as much about the States as it is about the people.   

Whatever the writers of the first ten Amendments meant (remember that they were written separately from the original seven articles of the Constitution), they were not solely addressing individual rights and there is nothing special about the order in which the Amendments now appear.

Report this

By Tommy, June 27, 2008 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The notion that the Constitution is a “living” document, that should be “read in light of the times” is one of the most preposterous statements ever made. And since that is the view of at least one former justice (and apparently several sitting), it is no wonder the country is in the final swirling stages of the toilet flush.
The drafters, if nothing else, did not waste words. I have yet to hear anyone argue otherwise. With that premise, why did they include Article V? It was certainly NOT to create a “living” document. It was to allow for changing times BY AMENDMENT! Not by “reinterpretation”. If the clearly unconstitutional vote buying schemes cooked up by the parties (i.e. social security, medicare, medicaid, etc.) were such good ideas, why can’t the parties just amend the document to allow them? They certainly had no problem amending it to destroy any checks and balances in the executive branch (Amendment 12, which only benefits the parties), or to destroy the economy (Amendment 16, which clearly benefitted no one BUT the parties).
For a change it’s nice to hear intellectual honesty. Mr. Street, kudos.

Report this

By necrolugosi, June 27, 2008 at 6:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Reading some of the federalist and antifederalist papers it seems that the right to bear arms was guaranteeing the right of the American people to revolt.  Seems like the framers where insuring that the citizenry could stand up should the government ever become to tyrannical, corrupt or unlawful.  It sounds as if the framers wanted everyone to have the means to band together and stand up to the government should it ever become necessary.  Of course the framers had just gotten done doing that so their views would be through that lens.  Surely such drastic actions need not be taken again.

Report this

By Jim Yell, June 27, 2008 at 5:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, one of the best motivations by our founding fathers in the constitution was the recognition that standing armies are a threat as much or more to the people they are to protect, as they are to any enemies. Intellectually I agree that gun control can take weapons out of the hands of the law-abiding and leave them in the hands of criminals and the government, which is sometimes hard to tell the difference.

But, reality says that a substantial number of people who wish personal guns are people who are marginal personalities. In other words they need the gun because they aren’t very smart or have small—-you know.

It is in matters of violence clear that people who are not very smart, or are excitable will impulsively use their guns. Eventually as many un-necessary shootings occur we will either have to have draconian laws to punish this behavior, or try some form of gun control to decrease the violence.

Would I like to have a gun available if someone breaks into my house? Probably. Is it a great idea, probably not. Is it sometimes necessary risk, maybe. Is there a clear reason for people to have a gun, probably not. In other words like many issues there are consequences and un-intended consequences. It is only in Fantasy that we have absolutes. Have I offered you an answer? No.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, June 27, 2008 at 4:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Carl Street, June 27 at 2:22 am #

“Actually, the founders would be abhorred to find we have what you call police…”

Seldom do I agree so absolutely and unequivocally with a POV, and not just the above quote which I find particularly insightful, but with your whole missive.

Dragging someone out of their home in the middle of the night can be easy and quiet UNLESS they happen to be armed.

keep your head down.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Report this
Carl Street's avatar

By Carl Street, June 27, 2008 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

Actually, the founders would be abhorred to find we have what you call police.  The “friendly professional intelligent cop on the beat” has not existed for some time having been replaced by militarized low grade thugs who believe they “know what’s best” and fancy themselves as some kind of social heroes.  The reality is the so-called “police” represent a heavily armed; standing army whose first resort is force of arms. 

Unfortunately, most here have substituted their personal agenda for the facts.  IF you REALLY want to know the reasoning of the Founding Fathers, I suggest you read the writings of the founding fathers of this nation.  Their Federalist Papers give an extensive, detailed, and complete background for each and every Clause and Amendment in the Constitution – including the much misquoted and misunderstood 2nd Amendment.

You can find the text of their Federalist Papers on line using Google – Synoptically, they were UTTERLY OPPOSED to a strong military and standing armies and considered them a consummate danger to freedom and liberty. By design, they ONLY supported a SMALL cadre officer corps.

Their plan for protection of this nation was that EVERY INDIVIDUAL was to be armed and a member of the militia—an independent ad hoc irregular defense force. Thus, providing any invading enemy with a prickly porcupine of innumerable armed enemies that COULD NOT be defeated by any organized military forces. And, while those militia might not “win” a war in a conventional sense; eventually, the enemy would find any invasion to be too expensive to maintain.

They based this on their proven success in defeating the British (the superpower of their day) in the American Revolution. And, their stance was MORE than justified in that the defeat of the British was accomplished even though only about 20% of colonial residents actively supported the American Revolution. So it stood to reason that with an independent militia representing 100%, their stance was a sound military defense strategy.

Would such a plan work in today’s high-tech, smart-weapon world? You BET—regardless of the smoke screen provided by self-serving military-industrial government sources, THAT is exactly what defeated the USA in Vietnam and is defeating us in Iraq.

All you junior-league arm-chair history channel john waynes please spare me your comments. I KNOW first-hand what I am speaking about. I served from 8 aug 66 to 7 aug 72 including stints in the 101st Airborne and was an instructor at Ft. Lewis WA—my specialty was Techniques of Guerrilla warfare—so I do NOT want to hear ignorant comments from wannabee idiots whose only combat experience is fighting their wife for the remote control.

Hopefully, this clarifies the Second Amendment for ALL—bubble-headed, touchy-feely, doo-gooders and centralized, standing-army, military-industrial warfare, “super patriots”—both of whom are unwittingly undermining this nation and cutting their own throats as well as the rest of ours.

Report this

By cyrena, June 27, 2008 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

Well Eugene,

You deserve an I for Integrity, because I know how hard it is to argue for something (based on the law) when it is contrary to ones own ideology, political or otherwise. I once had to argue on BEHALF of King Georgie’s decision to use the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive military force against Iraq, as part of an exercise/academic assignment. It was emotionally excruciating, even though it was only part of an exam, and not ‘live’. (I could never do it ‘live’)

So, good work. I don’t know that I agree with you about the meaning of the ‘militia’ part, though I guess it makes sense that ‘militias’ (at least at the time) would obviously have stored their weapons at least until they needed them to put down a slave revolt, or to massacre Indians.

Be that as it may, this might be the most important thing to stay ‘tuned to’...

“...I think the idea that the Founders’ “original intent” should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony—as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet…”

I agree. I’m not sure that the “original intent” is useful 200 plus years later. Matter of fact, it IS loony. But, there’s more than just ‘loony’ wrong with Scalia and his ilk.

Report this
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network

Like Truthdig on Facebook