January 2008

Downrange: 01/08

Three Views of The 'Second'

The upcoming Supreme Court review of District of Columbia v. Heller, which will examine Washington, D.C. ’s gun prohibition, has allowed a variety of views about the Constitution to creep into the sunlight for examination. Herewith are three excerpts on what the 2nd Amendment means, and doesn’t mean. Two of these we at Gun Tests wholeheartedly agree with—Halbrook’s and the NRA’s views. One we consider dangerously misguided—Gaillard—but we include it because we need to

Todd Woodard
know what the other side is thinking. We start with the worst first:

"The Second Amendment is obsolete," by Lee Gaillard  

Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, Dec. 4

Having scheduled a March hearing for the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court will face a fusillade of angry responses—no matter who wins. … But regarding tangled and contentious issues of ownership and regulation of guns in the 21st century, our Second Amendment—crafted to address 18th-century national security threats—offers no solution. In 2007, however, the has a large, active-duty military establishment. Replacing 1791’s militias, today’s local "well regulated" National Guard units maintain armories stocked with government-supplied weapons, each pistol and M-16 assault rifle carefully inventoried upon its return after weekend and summer training periods. Citizen-furnished smoothbores? Long gone. Given the Founders’ original intent clearly contained in that introductory absolute phrase, the consequently irrelevant Second Amendment should be long gone, too.…The Supreme Court needs to dismiss District of Columbia v. Heller as inapplicable, handing down instead a decision concerning the level at which these deadly weapons are to be regulated for public safety.

"Our Second Amendment: The Founders’ Intent " by Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D.  

The Independent Institute website, Dec. 6

After ignoring the [2nd] Amendment since its ambiguous U.S. v. Miller decision in 1939, the Court will decide whether the phrase "the right of the people" in the Second Amendment refers to the same "people" as in the First and Fourth Amendments, or only to government-selected militiamen. It will also consider whether a "right" in the Bill of Rights refers to a real liberty or is only rhetoric. Is the right to keep and bear arms on a par with the rights peaceably to assemble or against unreasonable search and seizure? Or is it void where prohibited by law?

"The Supreme Court and the DC Gun Ban—Setting the Record Straight"

NRA-ILA website, Dec. 7

… Many newspapers are publishing editorials, opinion pieces, and letters to the editor that read suspiciously like the anti-Parker "essays" that the Brady Campaign has been posting on its website for the last few months.… The Second Amendment protects The Right To Keep Arms, as well as the Right To Bear Arms. Brady claims that "the right to keep and bear arms" means only "the right to bear arms" (when on active duty in a militia), but that the Supreme Court should ignore the word "keep." But the Court of Appeals rejected the idea that "keep" has no meaning, saying "we do not take it seriously," and saying that it "mocks usage, syntax, and common sense," adding, "Such outlandish views are likely advanced because the plain meaning of ‘keep’ strikes a mortal blow to the collective right theory…We think ‘keep’ is a straightforward term that implies ownership or possession of a functioning weapon by an individual for private use." GT