The gun issue has been obfuscated by the amateurish reading of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. For those who like to quote things that they have never actually read, here it is, in its entirety:
“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”.
Please note, very carefully, that no-where in this Amendment does it use the word “citizen”. It uses only the word “people”. All you strict Constitutionalists please take note. The Framers certainly knew the difference between people and citizens, and purposely chose one word over the other. There is no citizenship test for gun ownership.
I’m not going to argue about the whole “militia” thing, because the wording is so vague that I won’t presume to know what the Framers meant when they wrote it. I am willing to accept that this amendment does in fact say that the government can’t “infringe” on the right of the people to bear arms. I have no problem conceding that that’s what the founding fathers intended when they wrote it.
The problem is that for those who like to quote this simple passage, the concept of judicial review seems to escape their thinking process.
In this same Constitution, the Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, has been given the power to interpret all law. In Article Three, Section 1, (Yes, there are parts to the Constitution that are not amendments) the founding fathers decided:
“The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish”.
In Section 2 of the same Article:
“The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority”.
What this means, very simply, is that the authority of the Supreme Court and lesser courts to interpret laws came BEFORE the amendments, which would, in my mind, make that authority even more substantial and fundamental. It was one of the first things that the founding fathers decided was necessary in order to establish the country they were trying to form.
What is particularly distressing about all this is, first of all, gun proponents, when citing the Constitution (usually attempting to use it as some ersatz weapon of patriotism), seem to forget that, if applied simply as written, without the interpretation of the courts, the Constitution does not limit ANYONE from having any kinds of weapons. Strict reading of the Second Amendment does not limit what types of arms, or what types of people can own and use them.
So, for all the NewsMax Constitutional scholars out there, strict reading of the Second Amendment says that a convicted felon, released from prison yesterday on an armed robbery charge, can walk into a gun store today and order a dozen hand grenades. Or an AR 15. Or a rocket launcher. Or any other item that comes under the heading of “arms”, which are conspicuously undefined in the Constitution.
For those of you who are saying that I’m taking this argument to the level of ridiculousness for simple rhetorical purposes, I submit the following from Find Law, which is a web site for legal pros, published on April 11th, 2013.
“A New Orleans judge ruled last Thursday that a law forbidding felons from owning firearms infringes their rights to keep and bear arms”.
And so it begins, (commencing eye-rolling incredulity). Click here for the article
A judge in Louisiana is fanning the flames of these self-described Constitutionalists by giving them exactly what they have been demanding. He is using the Constitution, not as a living document, but as a dead piece of parchment, written in a time when “arms” constituted flint lock rifles, knives, swords and spears, and using it as prevailing, contemporary law 240 years later, when we have “arms” that can fire a 50 caliber bullet over a mile, at hundreds of rounds per minute, not to mention the aforementioned hand grenades and rocket launchers. He is similarly using this document to enable any murderer, robber, terrorist or child molester to have one.
To repeat. As of now, a Louisiana judge, interpreting the Constitution as it was written, without applying any of the judicial wisdom we’ve acquired in 240 years as a Republic, has advised anyone, citizen or not, felon or not, terrorist or not, anarchist or not that they may buy and use whatever weapons they can find, with no interference from the government of Louisiana, based on his reading of the US Constitution.
It is, according to this judge, their right to bear whatever arms they choose, irrespective of whom they are or what their intentions might be.
Even if they just feel like taking out a few six-year-olds on some bright, sunny morning.
After all, it’s right there in the Constitution-all you have to do is read it.