Friday, May 11, 2007

Fred for Firearms

Fred Thompson weighs in on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms:

If you care about Constitutional law, and everybody should, the big news is that it looks as if the Supreme Court is going to hear a Second Amendment case some time next year. . . .

Our individual right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, may finally be confirmed by the high court; but this means that we're going to see increasing pressure on the Supreme Court from anti-gun rights activists who want the Constitution reinterpreted to fit their prejudices. The New York Times has already fired the first broadside.

A few days ago, the Gray Lady published a fascinating account of the case -- fascinating but fundamentally flawed. In it, the central argument about the Second Amendment is pretty accurately described. Specifically, it is between those who see it as an individual right versus those who see it as a collective states' right having more to do with the National Guard than the people.

Unfortunately, the article falsely portrays the individual right argument as some new interpretation held only by a few fringe theorists. The truth is very different, as civil rights attorney and gun law expert Don Kates has pointed out recently.

From the enactment of the Bill of Rights in 1791 until the 20th Century, no one seriously argued that the Second Amendment dealt with anything but an individual right -- along with all other nine original amendments. Kates writes that not one court or commentator denied it was a right of individual gun owners until the last century. . .

. . . Kates writes that, "Over 120 law review articles have addressed the Second Amendment since 1980. The overwhelming majority affirm that it guarantees a right of individual gun owners. That is why the individual right view is called the 'standard model' view by supporters and opponents alike. With virtually no exceptions, the few articles to the contrary have been written by gun control advocates, mostly by people in the pay of the anti-gun lobby."

Kates goes further, writing that "a very substantial proportion" of the articles supporting individual gun rights are by scholars who would have been happy to find evidence that guns could be banned. When guns were outlawed in D.C., crime and murder rates skyrocketed. Still, the sentiment exists and must be countered with facts. All of this highlights why it is so important to appoint judges who understand that their job is to interpret the law, as enacted by will of the people, rather than make it up as they go along.
Read the entire story here. I have always found it curious that, in areas where crime is the highest, such as my old hometown of Baltimore, you often find the loudest cries for gun control. But, in those scenarios, what you are doing is restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. The folks misusing the guns in the first place aren't likely to be deterred by the regulations, nor are they likely going to be unable to get a weapon. While some restrictions on gun ownership certainly need to be in place - such as highlighted in the recent Virginia case where the shooter was diagnosed with significant mental problems - making it so that the average citizen cannot own a weapon is counterintuitive, at least for a conservative. I suppose it does play into the left's paradigm that the average man or woman cannot be trusted. But I disagree.

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