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By Tom Toles


Gun rights

A friend has argued that there should be no congressional hearings for Supreme Court nominees because they serve no actual purpose. I would answer that they offer the public a great civics lesson in the propensity of lawmakers to preen and pose before cameras. Sure, we see them doing that on the campaign trail, but it's instructive to know that when it comes time to show up for work and do the nation's business, the empty posturing never stops.

Still, I do think that showcasing even the most cynical and deliberately misleading arguments has some value. Just see with what respect I have engaged my wayward crew of commenters. The great truth about baloney, real and metaphorical, is it goes stale in the air. It takes a little time, but it sooner or later starts looking and smelling like garbage, and I say the sooner the better. The admittedly brilliant scam of constitutional fundamentalism, if repeated often enough and watched, will eventually reveal itself to be the self-serving, grubby tactic it actually is.

The recent gun decision is a case in point. The entire context of the Second Amendment is plainly stated in its first four words, "A well regulated militia." But the court has decided to proceed as if those framing words aren't really there, because THAT part of the original text does not fit the agenda. The "literalist" argument had legs, but its feet are full of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | June 30, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guns, Supreme Court  
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Dear Tom;
Quite a little comment section going here. Not really running in your favor.

As for the militia arguement. I always thought the following line of reaoning as quite compelling.

Consider that right now the islamic jihadi's consider each American as a legitimate military target,(LMT), because each of us finance and support the wars against Muslims. That's why what they do isn't Terrorism according to them. My definition of Terrorism is the intentional targeting of noncombatants. Collateral damage isn't terrorism. Hasan's attack at Ft. Hood wasn't a "terrorist" act. That was a LMT. It wasn't his fault the soldiers had no guns. That's the US Army's fault. Therefore, if my family and myself are considered LMT's by our Nation's enemies, that seems to me elevates my status from civilian to soldier.

Therefore, as a former serving Officer in the USAF (Desert Storm-I didn't do anything but get stuck an extra six months in San Antonio), current member of The Texas State Rifle Association and DCM/NRA Service Rifle shooter, I steady ready to rally and muster The Texas Irregulars to defend hearth and home from predations. Be they Narco, Islamic, or GangBangers. I am an Army of One. I hereby request a complement of weapons appropriate for a five member squad. (Me, wife, son 1, daughter 2, son 2).

5- Beretta M9A1's
4- M4's with all the cool stuff
1- M240B Heavy Machine Gun
2-M249 SAW's
1- M-110 SDDM rifle
1- Barrett M107 .50 CQ
3- M203 40 mm Grenade Launchers
(substitute M79 Thumper OK)
1- M224 60mm Mortar
1- "Ma Deuce" M2HB.

That should cover it.
(By the way Mr. Toles, if you are unfamilar with the above items, I suggest you consult Jane's Infantry Weapons. After all, your tax dollars paid for them. And my son is using them to defend your cartoon. So you you can explain to him that when he eventually gets out of the Army, he can't have any firearms. Gee. I just had a thought. Why don't you do a cartoon on that fellow that they all like so much over there. You know the one. If I did a cartoon about that person, I'd sure as hell would want a gun.)

If TEOTWAKI occurs, then all the better to have some shooting irons and something to feed them.

Posted by: Tx0591 | July 4, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Gun Facts in America
200+ Million firearms
108+ M NCIS transfers past 10+ years
9 Billion rounds of ammo in '09 (DOD=2 B)
34 M went shooting '09, 9 M took AR's
48 States concealed carry (shall vs may)
31+ states Castle Doctrine or Traveling Laws
2+ M DGU's per year (Defensive Gun Use)

What The Second Amendment really means:

If you try and take away our guns,
We, the people, will shoot you.

Got that?

Posted by: Tx0591 | July 3, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

And more quotes the anti gun folks wish didn't exist:

"Arms in the hands of citizens (may) be used at individual private self defense..." -John Adams, A defense of the Constitutions of the Government of the USA, 471 (1788).

"...arms...discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. ...Horrid mischief would ensue were (the law-abiding) deprived the use of them." -Thomas Paine.

"The people are nor to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them." -Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliot, Debates at 646.

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950).

You know when Heller came down two years ago the anti gun folks said there would be blood in the streets of DC; yet the murder rate dropped 24% the fastest drop in violence since the gun ban happened and it happened after the ban was repealed.

Posted by: flonzy1 | July 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." -George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 425-426.

Problem is most anti gun people don't want to look at the history of what a militia was. They think it was like our modern nation guard, you sign up do a couple weekends a month and the government called you into action when needed, but they are wrong.

Militias were created for short periods of time; officials went town to town asking who could volunteer. Also the states did not own arms to give these men; these men brought their own weapons.

The whole point of the 2A is that without armed citizens there is no militia. Also the militia was important to them, they wanted to make sure the federal government would not trample the rights of the common man and gave the state the power to form state armies via militia.

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -- Thomas Jefferson Papers (C.J. Boyd, Ed. 1950)

"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves...and include all men capable of bearing arms." -Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169.

"The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age..." -Title 10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code.

"(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." -James Madison.

Frankly I don’t understand how anyone familiar with the founders writings could think they wanted anything other than an individual right to own guns:

"To disarm the people (is) the best and most effectual way to enslave them..." -George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380.

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." -Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-8.

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined...The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun. -Patrick Henry.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes...Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria.

"The Constitutions of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." -Thomas Jefferson.

Posted by: flonzy1 | July 2, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

As other commenters have pointed out the phrase “well regulated militia” doesn’t have the same connotation today that it did 220 years ago. But seriously Mr Toles, if the right to keep and bear arms was not an individual right, as opposed to a collective right, why was it included in the Bill of Rights? All the other amendments in the Bill of Rights specifically enumerate rights of individuals that the government cannot usurp. The government has “powers” and the citizens have “rights”. I guess that part just doesn’t fit your “agenda”.

Without a "literalist" interpretation of the Constitution what good is the Constitution? If the fundamental rights laid out in the Bill of Rights are continually open to interpretation based on the changing values and perceptions of each generation then the constitution is little more than a common law scheme of guaranteed of rights instead of the a statutory guaranteed of rights it was intended to be. The founders gave this nation a procedural way to modify our Constitution and our Republic has the authority to amend the constitution if our values significantly evolve (or devolve) from what they were when the document was originally written.

Interestingly enough, the liberals who dissented in the McDonald v. Chicago decision based part of their dissention on the idea that citizens should be allowed to govern themselves as they see fit and have their representatives craft laws and regulations as such. This is basically a federalist approach to regulation, not something that the liberals on the court have been too keen on in the past. This line of argument would seem to indicate that these dissenting justices would have no legal issue with local municipalities denying voting rights, supporting local churches, restricting local media outlets, or any number of actions that have been consistently deemed unconstitutional by the liberal wing of the court. After all, if “the people” in these respective municipalities decided this democratically and their local representatives legislated based on their wished, then why should the SCOTUS override the will of the people?

It’s a hypocritical argument, to say the least. If a constitutionally guaranteed right applies to one citizen, then it applies to all citizens equally and cannot be severely limited or completely abrogated.

If you don’t like the fact that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the statutory right to keep and bear arms, amend the constitution to reflect this but stop ignoring it when it becomes inconvenient.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | July 1, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Tom -- even if those are the most important words in the second amendment (which is arguable). You obviously don't have an understanding of what a milita was when the 2nd amendment was written. It was you and I... there was no national guard. The states would go OH NO WE NEED HELP, and people would bring their PERSONAL firearms and form a militia to defend the state...

I just want a response to the following quote from Thomas Jefferson... Please explain it too me. It makes no mention of the state --- it says the people.

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -- Thomas Jefferson Papers

Perhaps the most important part of the second amendment is the following " the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" it certainly seems to be supported by Thomas Jefferson.... and to be honest --- I could find dozens of quotes from our founders in similar context.

Refer to the Militia Act of 1792:

"That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, ... every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock...."

So your argument is enormously flawed... if the founders intended every white male (now remove racism and sexism) to own a musket (the firearm of choice for defense at the time)... What on earth has changed? They didnt know what a 'militia' was gonna be hundreds of years later... They meant what they meant, not what we want them to mean.

Posted by: justcred | June 30, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Toles, your “outtake” reminds me of a Stranglehold.
Funny thing (quite odd, now that I think of it), was just playing that song yesterday on a short road trip, anyway, keeping with that “train” of thought, I choose to stand with Ted Nugent on the 2nd amendment.
I’ve attended several of his concerts back in the day and I still am a big fan…rock on Ted!
Interesting, the judge in your drawing is actually pointing to his left…hmm.

Oh and yesterday’s top current event was the “spy ring”, do try and keep up Toles….

Books have since come in…time for some serious reading, literally…

Posted by: bertzel | June 30, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Why does the Left in this country many times share the same desire for control of people that dictators do?""

Also that's hardly limited to the left-wing. The right-wing is notorious for this. There's no question that this is an issue of control, merely a question of who has it.

I put it to anyone who seriously considers the issue of gun-control that your opinion about whether I should or should not have a gun, in my possession, on me or near me, wherever I am, is absolutely irrelevant when we are talking about my life and not yours. If your fear is that I will assault you with my gun then what do you expect to solve this problem: your anti-gun laws or the fact that you might have a gun yourself?

The point of anti-gun laws are to empower the state to arrest and incarcerate people simply for having guns. The 2nd amendment says that the people have the right to keep and bear arms and that that right shall not be infringed. This is an "open and shut" case. The sheer fact that this is even an issue speaks to the breadth and depth of the governments' lack of respect for the Bill of Rights in the context of its own power, and likewise for those who support anti-gun laws.

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"Why does the Left in this country many times share the same desire for control of people that dictators do?"

Because "democracy" legitimatizes that position, and the fact that we're talking about an American democracy, even more so. The only difference is that we live in a self-rationalizing, self-validating dictatorship of the proletariat.

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

...everyone in this country has Constitutional rights, including 2nd amendment rights.

The government happily "infringes" on the 2nd amendment. What if they stripped-away your right to free speech simply because they thought that it was a good idea?

You do realize that there are legislative infringements on *every* right to some degree. Because the government assumes that it has the power to "reasonably-regulate" our rights. But in the long run that means that we have no "rights" at all other than what the government allows us to have. That is the whole basis of the slippery-slope argument: regardless of what is in the Bill of Rights, the government will supersede it through the Articles of the Constitution that give it the power to regulate the country. You can't have it both ways. And at some point the issue is clear.

With regards to the 2nd amendment, that issue is crystal-clear.

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

That wasn't a joke, btw.

Posted by: toiletminded | June 30, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

What the US needs is more armed liberals...

Posted by: toiletminded | June 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyway the bottom line is that the US government expects the people to obey the law while it flouts the Constitution. Solve that problem first and we'll work on the 2nd as we go along.

Oh look: there really is no way to enforce the Constitution, is there. If the government chooses not to abide by it, what are we to do?

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"But in making that argument it is necessary to elevate the importance of a security over freedom. "

Indeed it is necessary to elevate the interests of the State in *attempting* to regulate the people over the very freedoms enumerated in the Constitution.

How much more clear can you get than "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"?

The argument for gun-control plain and simply adds the words "unless we think that it's a good idea" to the end of that. But that position fails, and fails utterly, when the people do not obey the law, which you may note does happen from time to time, and FURTHERMORE when the people themselves convert the very threat of lawbreaking into both a criminal act and justification for acts of self-defense. The bottom-line is that life today is the same as it was in 1776 when someone threatens you and you either do or do not have a ready means of self-defense. The government back in Washington can sit there talking about gun-control all they want while they're hiding behind giant granite walls and oak doors that they don't even want to open for the risk that the public poses to them. When you're out in the "world at large" and it's your life vs the lives of some hooligan and 3 of his friends? You're packing. Period. You'd be an idiot not to pack.

Your argument for gun-control rests on the assumption that the people cannot be trusted to act responsibly with guns. Well guess what? There are people out there with guns, knives, bats, bricks, whatever, who we KNOW are not responsible. You going to wave the US Code at them in self-defense?

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Your argument makes absolutely no sense and again shows why you should stick to the horse that brung you instead of trying to switch mid-stream.

Posted by: dubya1938 | June 30, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The lead in for your cartoon Mr. Toles reads, "On guns, court turns right". That is correct. Right leads to freedom. Left leads to Government restriction.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 30, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Tom its just not that simple. A strong argument along the lines you suggest can and has been made. The logical conclusion of that argument is that the 2nd amendment became a meaningless part of the Constitution well over 100 years ago and really ought to have been repealed by now. But in making that argument it is necessary to elevate the importance of a security over freedom. I think you would agree that the National Guard does promote the security of the state as a reserve component of the US army, but it does little or nothing to provide for a free state in the sense of having a citizenry capable of guarding against a tyrannical government. You can of course argue that such concerns have become moot with over 200 years of successful democracy (although there are no shortage of southerners that would disagree;). However, as anyone with a 401(k) realizes, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

You also have to define what a militia is. It is very clear through their writings that many founders considered the militia to be "the people" or at least every military aged male and not a discreet group controlled by the state. In fact none of the founders through their writings expressed any notion that would suggest that the militia is an organ of the state. Indeed in TITLE 10, Subtitle A, PART I, CHAPTER 13, § 311 of the US Code defines the militia as consisting of "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard."

Also, the word regulated did not have its most common modern connotations at the time. Well regulated meant well trained or proficient, and regulation was then more commonly thought of as a personal practice and not a practice by an outside force such as the government.

Essentially US citizens have to have the ability to become proficient in the ways of war and to do that they have to have access to firearms.

Then you can get into a slew of other, non-literalist, issues. For instance, the Bill of the Rights, except for potentially the 2nd, is about guaranteeing individual rights and putting a limit on governmental power. It seems a bit incongruous that the 2nd would be the outlier in limiting a freedom and granting government power.

The argument you make certainly has merit. To insist that there is not a valid counter argument though shows either a deplorable ignorance given the stridency of your opinion or blind faith in ideology. In all likelihood the former comes from the later. There are plenty of trained legal minds, including some very prominent liberal legal theorists with Tribe, Levinson, and Amar being prominent examples, that see an individual right as being the more proper and literalist interpretation of the 2nd.

Posted by: jmcdavisum | June 30, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Simpleton1 - I agree with you too. Constitutional analysis requires interpretation regarding original intent and consideration for the aspects of society that have changed since the words were written. As Jefferson said (and as inscribed in his Memorial): "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind." That being said, I am strongly biased towards interpretations that favor freedom and liberty for the individual (or at least as much as is reasonably possible). This is, I think, the real "original intent" of the founders.

Posted by: swierczekml | June 30, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I would think Mr Toles would have a better grasp of the English language than to make the "well regulated" argument.

Point One: In the context of 18th century English "well regulated" did not refer to government regulation but rather that sonmething is working properly.

Point Two: In the context of 18th century America (as well as today per the US Code in reference to the unorganized militia) the "militia" consisted of all able bodied males.

Point Three: The 2nd Amendment contains two independent clauses. The first being "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State," explains the reasoning of the second clause "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This is similar to the preamble to the Constitution which grants no powers but rather explains the reasoning behind the following articles.

Posted by: BradG | June 30, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many guns have been kept out of criminals' hands by the bans in places lg ike DC and Chicago.

I wonder how many crimes against law-abiding citizens would have been deterred or foiled if those citizens had the right to bear arms.

Posted by: spamsux1 | June 30, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse


I agree wth you. But your discussion of the responsibilities and limitations inherent in any constitutional right necessarily negates the "judges should unthinkingly read the literal text of the Constitution and then do what it says" argument that has become so prominent among some conservatives. As soon as you concede that guns can be banned from airplanes, for example, you have conceded the entire point. There is nothing conceptually different between that concession to public safety in the face of clear Constitutional language to the contrary and, say, finding that the Commerce Clause permits government laws prohibiting racial discrimination within private businesses, or that a privacy expectation exists within the penumbra of rights spelled out in the Constitution.

Conservatives say things like "the gun decision wasn't activist because it merely applied the plain language of the Second Amendment." That is necessarily wrong because it ignores the fact that society has already made hundreds of choices about how such rights, and such language, are to be interpreted.

It's as if I implemented a new rule at work that only "good music" could be played, then had them play Steely Dan all day because I think it's good. That's fine, so long as I acknowledge that that's my preference at play and not some objective truth -- many people legitimately hate Steely Dan or just have no opinion about it at all. Conservatives fall into the trap of assuming that if they like Steely Dan, it is objectively good and therefore the "only good music" rule naturally means Steely Dan. That's false reasoning.

Posted by: simpleton1 | June 30, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

People who break the law do not abide by gun laws. Why doesn't the Left wish to aknowledge that fact? The law abiding American public has the right to protect itself. And why is it that when there is a chance to debate wording in the Constitution the Left always sides with Government control and against the freedom of the individual? The first thing that a dictator does after seizing power is take away the guns from the citizens. Why does the Left in this country many times share the same desire for control of people that dictators do? Freedom is such a rush!!!!!

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 30, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

PrairieDog60--I think a good bet at reforming the Supreme Court has been overlooked. Modern cartridge firearms were unknown and unanticipated in the 18th century. If someone pointed out to Antonin Scalia that as a true Originalist he must maintain that the second amendment's reference to "arms" refers to flintlocks and nothing more, he would stamp his foot like Rumpelstiltskin and disappear into the nether regions.

Posted by: gluten | June 30, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, there's bound to be a silver lining here for you somewhere on the gun case.

After all, wouldn't your nanny-state stormtroopers qualify as a militia as well?

Just a thought!

Posted by: gowen1 | June 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Simpleton1 - I account for laws restricting the right to arms in the same way I account for laws restricting the right to speech, a free press, etc.

If I make a verbal threat against the president, I can be arrested. If I publish libel, I can be sued. These laws have been found constitutional; they're not in question, and the examples you cite fall within the same category of exceptions.

With any right come responsibilities; if you fail to exercise such, you can and should be held accountable. That being said, as with all rights, the possibility of misuse does not justify prior restraint.

Posted by: swierczekml | June 30, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Tom- narrow "constitutional fundamentalism" baloney scam is a spot on observation, & must be the only excuse for inmates of AZ legislature passing a law allowing anyone to carry concealed arms WITHOUT a CCW Permit. I got my CCW permit in 2002, when attacked by a stray pit bull on my 2 acre rural property. But I never carried a concealed weapon after learning about AZ gun law. This 74 year old with permanent Shingles paralyzed left leg & foot, decalres himself a "militia of one", armed with a cane flute, Raising Cane in song, in a "Cane Mutiny" against politically manufactured fear of "others", when in public. But watch out when the music stops!

Posted by: coyotegordy | June 30, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

simpleton, I couldn't agree more. There is also the element of definition to the second amendment. What are "arms"? Arms can mean handguns or rifles, but it can also mean grenades, or Abrams tanks, or surface to air missles, or nuclear weapons. If the literalists are correct, how is it that we can ban ordinary citizens from having some of these, but not all of them? Shouldn't "the right to bear arms" include the right to have a nuke mounted for deployment on a missle from the hood of your SUV? (I'm sure there are some crazies out there that would say "yes". All the more frightening.)

Guns kill thousands of innocent people each year in this country through violent acts. A single gun that can be held and operated by just about anyone can kill dozens of people in seconds. That was not the case in the early days of the United States. If it were, would the founders have been a little more careful in how they worded that amendment? I'm guessing so. Ask any urban police force if they think unlimited public access to guns is a good idea.

Interpreting the Constitution has to be, MUST be, a continuing look at how those 200+ aged words can fit with a modern society, with an eye on balancing freedom with safety and equity.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | June 30, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Once again the wackos on the right hand side of the bench have gotten it wrong. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Just a personal comment from one of your wayward admirers.

Posted by: bavery1 | June 30, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Gurduioo: What part of "well regulated" don't you understand?

Posted by: JoelPB8 | June 30, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

definitions of 'regulate' from

- to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.
- to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.
- To adjust a mechanism for accurate and proper functioning.
- To put or maintain in order

"a well controlled or directed militia",
"a well adjusted militia",
"a well functioning militia", or
"a well maintained militia"

The Federalist Papers recognized that a militia comprised of the people could never be completely regulated by public decree, but that it should be a goal of the People nevertheless.

Again, for people who don't can't understand perfectly sound reasoning, the founding fathers were qualifying the right to bear arms by defining why it was important, e.g- citizens of a free republic have the duty to uphold and defend said republic from threats both foreign and domestic and therefore if their right to bear arms was infringed, their duty (and power) in the republic would collapse.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | June 30, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The Second Amendment doesn't say anything about banning guns on airplanes, yet that's the law. How do you account for that, literalists?

If I try to set up a high-powered sniper rifle along the Presidential Inauguration route in 2012, the Secret Service will arrest me. If I try to bring a loaded gun into an elementary school, the local police will arrest me. And so on. And all of that is perfectly constitutional, even though the Second Amendment doesn't say anything about it. There are no exceptions to "the people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." So if a judge's role is simply to read the plain text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and do whatever that plain text says, why are those laws constitutional?

Posted by: simpleton1 | June 30, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, you read "A well regulated militia" with your 2010 liberal blinders on, whereas it was written in a time where standing armies were distrusted as instruments of centralized power, and thus the "well regulated militia" was considered a right AND a duty of The People in a free Republic.

But, in my experience, most people who disregard the duty involved also underestimate the right.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | June 30, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

The second amendment applies to now more then ever. The Constitution is overlooked too much by the Democrats, Liberals, & Progressives. We have the right to protect ourselves in our homes, on our property, & against tyranny.

Posted by: egw7777 | June 30, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Gurduioo: What part of "well regulated" don't you understand?

Posted by: JoelPB8 | June 30, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Tom, this issue is part of the larger problem which is that our government cannot get anything done. The processes, that worked at one time, do not work now.

One solution might be to;
1. reverse the control of the congressional committees: i.e. the minority party controls the committees.
2. Let the committees do all of the 'heavy lifting' on the legislation.
3. Once a bill makes it out of committee, then just let it get an up-or-down vote by the full body.
4. Do away with most of the procedural nonsense.

This idea may bite, but I'm not hearing any solutions from anybody else.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | June 30, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Tom - please read closely the arguments on both sides of the Heller case, and you'll see that not only did the justices address the first four words of the amendment, they did so in excruciating detail. And while the "context" of the first half of the amendment might be arguable (though I think the majority showed pretty conclusively that it isn't), the second half is pretty darn clear.


Posted by: swierczekml | June 30, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Yo, I'm a militia of one, and I'm regulatin' myself!

Posted by: Gurduloo | June 30, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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