Thank Rand for the SCOTUS decision in Heller this week, in which for the first time in two centuries plus, the Supreme Court specifically recognized that the Second Amendment "right of the people to keep and bear arms" in fact recognizes keeping and bearing guns to be an individual right of the people. This is a pretty obvious point by, say, reading the Constitution, but very controversial.
Seems like the court never felt a need to rule on this issue for most of US history most likely because it was largely assumed to be self-evident. It's not like the words are really, legitimately confusing – nor the basic point of guaranteeing the right of individuals to have access to the means of their own defense, from whomever.
There's great sentiment against guns in many quarters of the modern world (some of it perfectly reasonable), and lots of folks ready to grab guns – for the good of the people, of course. Since the left-wing types who are the main advocates of gun control/banning tend to like spinning the text of the constitution as a "living document" anyway, many of them (including the government of the District of Columbia whose gun ban was just overturned) came up with the less than clever point of pretending that the "well regulated militia" clause at the beginning meant only a government army had the right to bear arms.
It seems pretty clear from the Constitution, however, that the point there would be exactly the opposite – that the people have to have a right to keep guns exactly in order to keep the military regulated. Justice Scalia didn't go into that aspect specifically in the decision, mostly speaking of the less radical sounding general idea of self-defense, but that's what the founders wrote.
Thus, I was particularly pleased with the reluctantly supportive reaction to this Heller decision from Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. He's a good liberal who believes that "The practical benefits of effective gun control are obvious: If there are fewer guns, there are fewer shootings and fewer funerals."
This leads him to this statement that speaks very well of his basic intellectual integrity, "This case, for me, is one of those uncomfortable situations in which my honest opinion is not the one I'd desperately like to be able to argue. As much as I abhor the possible real-word impact of the ruling, I fear that it's probably right."
Thank you, Brother Robinson. That kind of honesty is the most basic foundation for democratic debate and governance. He even argues for some idea of the constitution as a living document – while also recognizing that at some point the words do actually MEAN something. "But I also believe that if the Constitution says yes, you can't just blithely pretend it says no. Yesterday's decision appears to leave room for laws that place some restrictions on gun ownership but still observe the Second Amendment's guarantee. If not, then the way to fix the Constitution is to amend it — not ignore it." Exactly. Thank you.
The Heller decision overturned a gun ban in the District of Columbia, which is something like 90% black. Thus a gun ban there is largely an attempt at keeping black people from having guns – even if it's a law passed by black lawmakers elected largely by black voters. It's like they don't trust themselves with weapons.
On a tangential note then, these gun rights were part of the Supreme Court's argument in the infamous 1856 Dred Scott decision which specifically affirmed that Negroes were absolutely NOT included as people or citizens under the US Constitution. Per that SCOTUS decision, obviously black folks were not intended to be understood as "citizens" of the US. Otherwise,
it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.
Of course, the scary Negroes and scary everybody else already have guns. Thankfully, we appear now to be moving towards guaranteeing equal rights to the law abiding and pro-social citizens of all colors.