Well, it finally came out today, Scalia's opinion in DC v Heller. And I am quite satisified with the result.
While it has many pages and is quite long winded, especially with the dissents, it boils down to simply this: The Second Amendment reads: "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." The basic disagreement was whether this meant that only state militias are constitutionally protected or whether individuals are.
I agree with the individual protection. Or, to put it another way (as is noted in the opinion), another way to phrase the amendment (with the same meaning) is: "Because a well-regulated Militia is necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
The meaning of a Militia is also important to note - back then, a Militia was every ablebodied man between a certain age. In other words, it was really the whole population (minus women, which has since been mostly remedied in our military, and minus the too young or old, which is just common sense). So the notion was that in order for there to be an effective Militia, every man needed to keep and bear arms (and know how to use them) so they would be there to be drawn upon as needed. This was not the national guard. This was EVERYONE (within the gender/ableism limits of the time).
On top of that, they were VERY mistrustful of the notion of the government having a monopoly on military arms - they wanted the population itself to be armed militarily so as to always have the threat of another revolution if the government turned to tyranny.
So I'm very pleased with this opinion, though I must confess, I like many others had the notion that this was a well-settled issue - probably because it has been treated as such for so long despite the lack of a definitive ruling.
I don't particularly like the idea of just the official government having a monopoly on arms - I simply don't trust anyone with that kind of power. Power corrupts. Guaranteed. I could go into all of the instances of where government guns have killed people, no charges filed - like with ill-conceived police drug raids, but I'll save that for another time.
I will close by saying that I'm a huge fan of the Bill of Rights, and I don't get selective there about which ones I champion - I am fanatical about all 10 of them. Its too bad that neither political party is as consistent. (The right-wing seems to think only the 2nd Amendment exists, while the left seems to think everything but the 2nd exists (and possibly not the 9th or 10th either).
One of these days I may even go out and buy a gun.
UPDATE: Well, upon looking into the whole opinion, it isn't that much to write home about. It just maintains the status quo. Any logical reading of the Constitution would recognize that it is about military weapons - it isn't about self-defense or hunting. That means ALL arms, including things like machine guns, bazookas, RPGs, etc. Of course, that would scare the crap out of most people, so let's just ignore that and just twist some logic to get the result we want. It really makes no sense. Oh well. (Note that I am not giving any opinion on whether it would actually be a good idea to have the populace as well armed as the military. Whether it is a good idea or not, it is the law, whether we want to accept it or not.)
3 years ago