Thoughts on DC v. Heller
For those of you who do not follow large sweeping news stories, DC v. Heller is a Supreme Court case currently being heard that challenges that the District of Columbia’s firearms ban is in violation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. There’s been a lot of argument on both sides of this case, but reading Jack Landers’ Rule .303 Blog, he put for a good point last month:
DC’s gun ban is different from these other issues. This isn’t a grey area. This isn’t a question of regulations intended to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. The question is whether a local government can completely ban a right which is explicitly granted to the people in the Constitution.
Some would attempt to argue that when the founders wrote ‘the people,’ they were really referring to ‘the government.’ The idea is that the 2nd Amendment was only intended to establish that the government is allowed to have some kind of collective defense. However, this is a pretty scary type of logic if you apply it consistently. If we’ve decided that rights granted to ‘people’ in the Bill of Rights were actually granted to governments rather than to the people as individuals, then you can kiss your freedom goodbye.
‘The right of the people peaceably to assemble’? Nah, that just means that the government can hold meetings. They can arrest you for standing in a group and waving signs around.
How about the 4th Amendment?
‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.’
Huh. I guess that was just establishing that the government cannot be audited? Yeah, that’s it. The founders just wanted to prevent any of that pesky transparency in government.
It’s all pretty stupid, isn’t it? But this is where you end up going if you claim that the words ‘the people’ actually refer to the government rather than, you know, the actual people.
That is one of the best arguments I have heard to the definition of how the Bill of Rights was intended. If it is in fact a governmental right, then the entire premise of the Bill of Rights (which was based on the Virginia Bill of Rights ) is out the window.
Considering the brisk assault on personal liberty since 9-11, it’s not surprising that the interpretation of people to mean “state-regulated militia” has been put forth. It’s an argument of commas and intent. Is “a well regulated militia” a modifier or a separate statement?
Regardless of the outcome, I expect the justices to rule so narrowly as to only effect the legality or illegality of the DC regulation and avoid widespread chaos that would ensue from what many would see as an affront on their God-given rights.
Gun regulation doesn’t work. If someone wants to get a firearm, they will. Black markets have always existed for contraband. And then you have a populace scared and unable to defend themselves. Look at history to be your guide: one of the first things revoked in totalitarian regimes is the right to bear arms.