Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The following is important. Enough so as to warrant a sticky and thats why I'll be linking to this post bar sinister.

The liberals continue to spew tired old saws that go something like this; "The 2nd Amendment was so poorly written as to make it impossible for anyone to determine precisely what the Framers had in mind, so it is up to us to describe what they meant by translating it into modern language..."

Bullshit. The Founders went on record, and you can look it up. So much so that there was this little fracas we like referring to as The Revolutionary War. And when was the last time you read those words? Revolutionary War. King George wanted us as vassals, but enough brave men rose to overthrow such tyranny. Modern liberals despise making mention of the fact that the Founders considered certain Rights to be unalienable, and put their money where their mouth was. They took on the biggest military power known to man, the Empire upon which the sun never set, in order to preserve for their descendants the Freedoms that no man can grant, nor dismiss as mere privilege.

The Yellowstream Media will continue to distort the facts, to caricature the judgment handed down in Heller as not being all that important.

Read on.

"The most important things about Heller, other than the mere fact that it squarely addresses the Second Amendment, are that it is far more comprehensive than the national media are explaining. This is no mere overturning of the District of Columbia's pervasive gun ban, it absolutely establishes that the Second Amendment does indeed protect an individuals right to own and use firearms, as separate and distinct from any government controlled military organization. Justice Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, carefully analyzes each and every word of the Amendment, and does so from both a linguistic, legal, and historical perspective. He defines, "arms", "bear", "people", "right", "keep", "militia", "state", and fully deconstructs how they are put together. There is nothing left to define here, no words about which the meaning can be speculated, and no syntax structure left to be manipulated. Short of outright overturn of the decision (which every Supreme Court abhors to do), the individual nature of this right is now set in stone. Further, Justice Scalia (rightly) heaps scorn on some of the more obtuse and insultingly disingenuous arguments that have been made to eviscerate the meaning of the Second Amendment over the last few decades. We begin our examination of Heller with its disposal of those "chestnuts".

For at least a couple of decades, we've been forced to endure the catchphrase that the Second Amendment only would allow private ownership of muskets and muzzleloaders, since that was what the founders were calling firearms. This was what would be called a "compromise position" uttered by the self congratulatory, semi-educated, through a haze of clove cigarette smoke. Justice Scalia harshly brought them to reality with the following:

Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 19th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima faciae, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

The second venerable "chestnut" that has long been a lamppost for gun opponents to slouch against during any debate, has been to claim that the Second Amendment is only a "collective" right, indicating that it has to do with "militia service" or some existent group organized by the government, such as police forces, National Guard Units, or the proverbial "posse". While Justice Scalia spends considerable time on the exploration of the "militia" idea, before disposing of the gun opponents agenda for that phrase, he deals a swift death blow to the idea that the Second Amendment is some kind of "collective" right. He notes that the Second Amendment specifically says the "right of the people", and goes on to add that;

The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights use the phrase "right of the people" two other times, in the First Amendment's Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment's Search-and Seizure Clause. The Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology.[direct quote removed] All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not "collective" rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body.

In footnote here he says that Justice Stevens contention that the right is conditioned on membership in a militia, and is "primarily collective in nature", Justice Scalia calls "deadwrong", citing McDonald v. Smith, 472 U.S. 479(1985) which defined the historical origins of another individual right set forth in the Bill of Rights. Writing for the majority Justice Scalia notes that, "Nowhere else in the Constitution does a 'right' attributed to 'the people' refer to anything other than an individual right." In fact, he says, "We start therefore with the presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.

The opinion spends much of its length dealing with just how, precisely; the "militia" concept is entwined with the right to bear arms. In short, he says that the Second Amendment is divided into two distinct parts. The part that talks about "militia" is what he calls a "prefatory clause", a phrase used only to clarify or justify the important part of the statement, the "operative clause". The operative clause here is, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

He clearly states that the operative clause is based on the long standing conflicts in England, where the government sought to disarm groups that opposed it, to better establish tyranny, and is the codification of a pre-existing right. Hence, the word "infringed", making it clear that the people already have a right to keep and bear arms. Had the amendment been designed to give a heretofore unknown right to the people, it would have read something like, "…does hereby grant to the people a right to keep and bear arms". (The founders were followers of the philosophy of the 18th century liberals philosophers, like John Locke, and believed that humans had inalienable rights, not that humans were only to be "given" rights by a sovereign.)

He says that the prefatory clause does not serve as a limit on the operative clause, and that "…operative provisions should be given effect as operative provisions, and prologues as prologues….[if]the prologue itself should be one of the factors that go into the determination of whether the operative provision is ambiguous [that] would cause the prologue to be used to produce ambiguity rather than resolve it."

He notes that the Constitution itself empowers congress to make a Navy and to raise Armies, but that the militias are something different. He argues that the plain language and history indicate the militias were pre-existing to the government, and were composed of all able bodied men, armed with their personal weapons. He conveys that there were many reasons the founders felt that a militia would be "necessary to the security of a free state", among them repelling invasion. Though he does not mention it specifically, it is worth noting that Admiral Yamamoto advised the Japanese military ruling council against a land invasion of California, primarily because the large number of armed citizens would make it an ungovernable quagmire. This shows that the founders belief that the security of the nation would be bolstered by having an armed populace was borne out, at least through the 20th century. Scalia also draws attention to the writings of Hamilton describing that a nation of armed, able bodied men, are better able to resist tyranny, and also spends some time discussing the history of the struggles between Catholics and Protestants for control of the monarchy, as the origins of this knowledge of armed resistance to tyranny. Thus he illuminates that the prefatory phrase about the militia is merely explanatory as to the operative phrase of just why it is so important that the "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".


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