What The 2nd Amendment Means And Doesn’t Mean.

Yesterday this website carried an op-ed by one of our Contributing Editors, Greg Gibson, whose son was murdered on the campus of the college he was attending, a terrible story that became a book written by Gibson, Gone Boy, which has become something of a small classic in the literature about violence caused by guns. Greg has gone on to do some important gun-advocacy work, he also has a rather unique perspective on the issues of gun violence and gun control, and his comments about the 2nd Amendment created quite a storm on several Facebook pages where I posted what he wrote.

2A              Basically, Greg was defending the 2nd Amendment based on the assumption that the Framers didn’t intend to give gun rights to the kind of people who shouldn’t have guns:  criminals, nut-cases, or what Gibson refers to as “teenagers with still-developing brains.” Most of the comments about his piece came from activists who, for various reasons, don’t believe that gun owners should get any kind of Constitutional protection at all. Here was a typical comment that I received: “militia means a standing army not right wing nut jobs carrying assault rifles and terrorizing communities.”

The 2008 Heller decision, which said that Americans could keep a handgun in their home for self-defense, was decided by looking at the historic and legal precedents of two words: ‘keep’ and ‘bear,’ as in ‘to keep and bear arms.’ And even though many of the examples advanced on both sides of the SCOTUS debate were only marginally connected to the 2nd Amendment. Scalia was able to cobble together enough instances of early statutes and events to make his case.

What is most interesting about the Heller decision, however, is not what the majority and minority opinions say about the historical and legal meaning of the relevant text, but what isn’t said. And what isn’t said is any discussion about the word ‘arms,’ because Scalia dispensed of this issue in less than 100 words out of his 20,000-word opinion, by noting that Constitutional protection of private gun ownership only covers weapons that are commonly found in the home, and not “unusual” weapons like the kinds of weapons designed for use in war.

There’s only one little problem with Scalia’s formulation however, an argument that was unstintingly accepted by the minority opinions as well. The reason we suffer 125,000 gun injuries each year is because we give ourselves free access to these self-same weapons of war. Americans aren’t killed or wounded in large numbers by the millions of shotguns lying around in basements here and there. The 12 people killed in Chicago last weekend didn’t die because the shooters used several of the millions of hunting rifles manufactured by Remington, Winchester, Ruger or Savage Arms.

We suffer gun violence because legally or illegally, lots of our fellow citizens are walking around with handguns made by Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig, Ruger, Colt, etc., all of which were designed and used as weapons of war. Gaston Glock designed his pistol for the Austrian army; his gun is now carried by armed forces worldwide, including the armed forces of the United States. Sig just landed the contract to supply their pistol to the U.S. Army, and celebrated this financial whirlwind by releasing 50,000 of the guns for civilian sale.

We are the only Western country which has decided that handguns, which are designed for only one purpose (to kill human beings) should be allowed to be purchased and owned with no greater degree of regulation than what we impose on someone who wants to buy and take a  shotgun into the woods.

The issue isn’t whether or not we should keep the 2nd Amendment. The real issue is whether the 2nd Amendment should protect the ownership of guns whose design and lethality has nothing to do with anything other than committing an act of violence in the extreme. You can be an Originalist all you want, but the Framers couldn’t have meant to enshrine murder as a Constitutional ‘right.’

 

Advertisements

Can We Use The 2nd Amendment To Regulate Guns? We Sure Can.

Today our friends at The Trace are marking the 10th anniversary of the Heller decision with an interview about the impact of the decision with Eric Segall who teaches Constitutional law at Georgia State. The gist of the interview is that while the NRA scored a major victory by getting the Miller decision reversed, gun-control advocates could also breathe a sign of relief because Scalia’s opinion still gave government broad authority to regulate guns.  And since Heller, the ability of the government to maintain its regulatory authority has been challenged again and again, but the basic ability of public authorities to decide whether guns are a risk to community safety has remained intact.

2A            Segall’s incisive and accurate comments notwithstanding, the post-Heller gun ‘rights’ discussion always seems to avoid what I consider to be the most important issue embodied in the text of the 2nd Amendment itself. The relevant text says: ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Scalia’s 20,000-word majority opinion spends 19,950 words on a textual, historical and legal analysis of the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear.’ But his concern about how to define the word ‘arms’ covers only 50 words and wasn’t even mentioned by the minority opinions filed by Stevens and Breyer in the case.

The reason that Scalia didn’t spend any time discussing the meaning of the word ‘arms’ was that he and his Supreme Court colleagues all agreed that the 2nd Amendment referred only to weapons that are in common use today, which means that what are referred to as ‘weapons of war,’ i.e., military guns, aren’t covered by anything having to do with the 2nd Amendment at all. This is all well and good except for one little problem entirely ignored by the Court, namely, that most of the civilian-owned guns which are currently used both for self-protection as well as for committing gun violence happen to have been designed for the military and are still used by military forces both here and abroad.

The most popular handgun sold in the United States is manufactured by Glock, which was designed for the Austrian Army, and is now carried by American troops in the field. The gun which replaced the U.S. Army’s historic sidearm, the Colt 45 pistol designed by John Browning in 1907, is the Beretta 92, which is also a favorite handgun sold to civilians throughout the United States. Last year the Army phased out the Beretta 92 and replaced it with the Sig P320; the manufacturer celebrated the award by immediately making and distributing to wholesalers and retailers 50,000 units of the exact, same gun.  And by the way, the Colt 1911 pistol, which was the Army’s official sidearm for more than 60 years, has also probably been the single, most popular handgun ever to get into the hands of all those gun nuts who now have Constitutional protection to keep any non-military handgun in their homes.

The bottom line is that there is nothing in the Heller decision preventing public authorities from banning just about every, popular handgun model based on what the Heller decision actually says and doesn’t say. The one time that a public authority actually banned the ownership of a military-style weapon because it was too lethal to be kept around, was when the town of Highland Park passed a ban on AR-15 rifles after Sandy Hook, a move now being considered in other Illinois communities as well. The Highland Park decision was appealed up the judicial ladder but was upheld at the Circuit level and the SCOTUS refused to intervene. Less-restrictive bans on AR rifles in CT and NY have also been upheld.

For all the talk about how the gun industry has been exempt from consumer product review and protected from torts, when the issue of regulation turns on the lethality of their products, the gun ‘rights’ gang hasn’t done very well. When our friends in the gun-control community sit down to plot their strategies, they should keep this in mind.

Should I Join The Golden Eagles? You Decide.

Yesterday in the mail I received my 2018 Defender of Freedom Award from the National Rifle Association.  I am proud to place this plaque on my wall just below my 2017 NRA Freedom award.  The plaque comes with a very inspiring letter from Wayne-o LaPierre, which even appear to be personally signed by the NRA’ distinguished Executive Vice President. You know, Wayne-o is the guy who has actually sat right next to Draft Dodging Trump in the White House, so getting a letter from Wayne-o is like getting a letter from Draft Dodger himself.

freedom             I am so proud and humbled to receive this award that I want to quote directly from Wayne-o’s letter to me.

“Whenever powerful anti-gun politicians and their allies launch an all-out attack on the Second Amendment, you always stand firm and fight to defeat gun bans, ammo bans and gun owner registration.”

This Award is only bestowed on exceptional NRA members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership well above their peers – and whose inspiration to gun owners has contributed significantly to the defense of the Second Amendment.”

Now I’ve heard all about the push for a new assault weapons ban, but I didn’t know that the gun grabbers were also going after ammunition as well. On the other hand, we all know that extending background checks to personal gun transfers will certainly push us down the slippery slope to gun registration, then gun owner registration, then gun confiscation, then Fascism, then another Holocaust – no wonder I have just been recognized as a Defender of Freedom. It’s one and the same package after all.

But the letter from Wayne-o contains something else beyond congratulating me for my fervent defense of America’s most important civil right.  It also states that because I am a Defender of Freedom I can join the NRA Golden Eagles Club, which is certainly a rare honor and one I should not pass up.  The Golden Eagles, according to Wayne-o, “have stood on the front lines of the greatest gun rights battles of our generation. Golden Eagles recognize that there I no greater gift we can bestow on future generations than to win the battle for freedom today.”

I can’t believe it. Little ol’ Mike the Gun Guy gets to serve the cause of freedom alongside such patriots as Oliver North and Dana Loesch! That’s right. They’re also Golden Eagles and I can’t believe that I could be counted as being in the same company as two fine, upstanding Americans like them. In fact, my Defender of Freedom plaque is embossed not only with Wayne-o’s signature but with the signature of LtCol North – I can’t wait to show this to my kids and my grandkids.

Of course, in order to be a member of the Golden Eagles, I have to demonstrate that my commitment to America’s first freedom doesn’t run just skin deep. Wayne-o’s asking me to give him two hundred bucks to help keep freedom alive. This dough will also help the NRA fight the good fight in the upcoming elections because if the ‘tens of millions’ that Bloomberg and Soros are pouring into ‘gun-ban schemes’ bears fruit, the gun-grabbers could “wipe out everything you and I have worked so hard to achieve.”

I have until May 21st to make a decision, but this is too important a decision to make on my own. So, here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m asking you – my readers – to tell me whether I should support America’s freedoms by taking this poll. I’ll run it until May 15th or so and then announce the results. If you tell me to join the Golden Eagles I’ll whip out the ol’ checkbook and join away. I’ll be guided by what you say and thanks for helping me decide what I should do.

 

 

 

A Mother’s Day Message from Evolve’s Rebecca Bond

bond

A Mother’s (Day) View of the Gun Debate.

As Mother’s Day approaches and I think of all the moms missing their children due to gun violence, I wonder what it is going to take for people in this country to rise up with their voices and protect like a mom.

That’s what moms do. They protect. From the moment the first extraordinary heartbeat appears on the screen in the doctor’s office and mom says a first ‘hello baby’ to the beating speck, a protective instinct kicks in. It’s not hard, it’s what is innate to moms. We go to our monthly check-ups, we eat better, we sleep more, we talk to the growing speck, that turns into a bit of an alien on-screen by nine months. We cry from hormones and wonder why everything makes us cry. We spend extraordinary amounts of time researching the right car seat, crib, mobile to hang over the crib, baby proofing the house.

While all of this is going on, we endure swollen feet, swollen belly, pants that don’t fit, swollen faces we don’t recognize, backaches and learning to sleep in strangely contorted positions from the ever-expanding (sometimes at a quick shocking pace) belly. While we are ‘enduring’ some of these shocking truths required for producing this future Einstein, Picasso, teacher, president, daughter or son, we know that what we are doing is creating a miracle that cannot be replicated.

When that baby is handed to us in the delivery room, it is one of the most – if not the most — extraordinary moments in our lives. The power and the privilege that we have to create life is extraordinary.

As a mother goes through the moments when her child first recognizes her voice, her laugh, her touch, there is a bond created that is like no other. One that allows her to hear the cry in the night that no one else can hear. One that makes her think to herself: if something were to happen to this miracle, I could never go on. I would never stop crying.

When I started Evolve, after the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook, it was because I could not contemplate anything more unimaginable than taking away the life of a child. My child or another mother’s child. One of our human miracles. It wasn’t about guns to me. It was about a mother’s conscience and the unfathomable idea that 20 children could be massacred and what if? What if nothing happened and we continue to look away from the truth about gun violence and gun behaviors in this country? As a mother, it was too unimaginable to consider.

What drove me to start Evolve is knowing that we have to do better. That as mothers we must do better to make saving a life our priority. We know that human life is fragile because we know first-hand the miracle of creating one. We also know once that life is created, we must do everything within our power – within our society’s power – to ensure that life does not go to waste.

Guns are powerful, but human choice is more powerful. More powerful than a gun, more powerful than legislation, more powerful than the Second Amendment.

I read news report after news report every day about incidents that could have been prevented. Loaded and unlocked guns left in cars, stashed in closets, under beds, propped up against the wall like a kitchen broom, guns given to children that are emotionally unstable and  just shouldn’t be exposed to them. These are just poor choices that cheapen the value of human life. What is the debate? Stupid and casual behavior has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or laws. This has to do with how much we value human life. If we value human life, we make make choices that protect it. We don’t wait for someone to make it a law or legislate. We use our heads, our common sense, our motherly instinct.

We all give ourselves labels: liberal, conservative, gun owner, gun reformer, but none of those are instinctive. They are not in our DNA. I’ll never forget the moment a family member – a mom — transformed before my very eyes from an adversary arguing the cause of gun rights and into a mom who cares about protecting children. Perhaps maternal instincts are the key to solving this horrific problem.

What is it about this conversation that is so hard for people to have? Children and people across this country are killed or injured every day because of a bullet. 100,000-plus. We don’t need special reports to wrap our heads around that number. It’s everywhere. It’s a suicide problem, it’s an urban problem, it’s a gun loophole problem, it is a parenting problem and, most of all, it is this country’s problem.

Give all those mother’s of gun violence victims a break this Mother’s Day. Don’t make them have to explain to you why this important, don’t make them have to sadly walk the halls of our government offices explaining why they don’t want another mother to suffer their fate. Give them the day off. Take a moment to consider how you could help them honor their child’s memory by doing something that is just plain reasonable. Common sense. Guns are in your home, in your community, they’re unlocked, they’re in glove boxes, they are in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have them. Say something or do something because it is the right thing to do for our country and this society. Something that might preserve our future miracles.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of miracles.

 

Rebecca Bond

Founder of Evolve

Committed to saving a life

5/11/13

 

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2013/03/06/exp-pmt-evolve-rebecca-and-john-bond-guns.cnn

http://evolvetogether.us/

http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/