Arms Liberty at Last


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Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect?

Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn’t be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence.

Many people who are opposed to gun laws which place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based themselves on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

If the end of gun control leads to a bloodbath of runaway shootings, then the Second Amendment can be repealed, just as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist for people, not people for laws.

There is no point arguing, as many people do, that it is difficult to amend the Constitution. The fact that it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t mean that it is difficult. The people may not want it to happen, even if the intelligentsia are itching to change it.

When the people wanted it to happen, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years, from 1913 through 1920.

What all this means is that judges and the voting public have different roles. There is no reason why judges should “consider the basic values that underlie a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance,” as Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent against the Supreme Court’s gun control decision.

But, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was “to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not.”

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/DagW DagW

    I just finished reading the first 212 pages of Sowell's Intellectuals and Society, in which one will find a full-length version of the post above. Sowell is there, as here, a lucid, informative, and intelligent writer. His latest book is excellent, if my reading of the first 200 pages in an evening is any sign to go by, and I being a slow reader who takes long-hand notes as I plod along.

  • poptoy

    GREAT NEWS. Everybody should carry a gun. Crime would go down for sure.

    • TLH

      Ah, mis-characterize. Easier than thinking, no?

    • toypop

      Everyone should run around unarmed and undefended. The police are mere minutes away when seconds count. If you just give them what they want, they won't hurt you. If they hijack your plane, wait for the experts to deal with it.

  • Bob Murphy

    I think there is a more fundamental way to look at this whole issue.
    It is not about guns per se but each citizen's right to defend himself and his family from those who would deprive him of life, liberty and the fruits of his labor.
    A gun is the most effective equalizer in the history of man and it enables the proverbial reasonable man to resist the depradations of people of superior physical strength.
    The gun is only a tool, not the be all and end all.
    If a gun's power is misused there is a plethora of laws to deal with the consequences.

  • davarino

    What can you add to this article? That is the arguement. If you dont like the constitution, then change it. But progressives know so much more then us little people and cant waste time changing the constitution, besides, we may dicide not to change it.

    We have to change this bunch in Washington. Their brains dont think good.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FBastiat FBastiat

    Front Page Magazine on "Interpreting the Second Amendment":
    http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=25899

  • USMCSniper

    the best argument I ever heard about keeping and bearing arms was believe it or not from the movie "Alien vs Predator". It goes like this. "I'd rather have a gun and not need it, than need a gun and not have it"

  • USMCSniper

    In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control and from 1929 to 1953,
    about 30 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded
    up and exterminated.
    ——————————
    In 1911, Turkey established gun control and from 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million
    Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were r ounded up and exterminated.
    ——————————
    Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of
    13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were
    rounded up and exterminated.
    ——————————
    China established gun control in 1935 and from 1948 to 1952, 40 million political
    dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
    ——————————

  • Elaine Schiff

    From all I have read, those states and cities that allow the citizens to bear arms have had a drop in crime. USM Sniper-good information, and God bless Thomas Sowell.

  • coyote3

    Now that this issue is finally settled, any and all restrictions must be viewed through the prism of Heller and MacDonald as a fundamental right. This is important, because it actually reverses the burden. The government, including states and their political subdivisions will have a fairly hard burden with restrictions. That being said, the more important question is: what kind of restrictions would pass constitutional muster. It is probably safe to say that the old arguement, "you don't need…." is probably irrelevant from this point forward. It is impossible to do much accurate predicting, because could be as many forms of restrictions as there is human imagination, and the context of those restrictions is just as important. Where this will go as far as carrying firearms will also be another issue. Lastly, even states that tend to respect civil rights often have fees connected with firearms. Is the fee to exercise what is without question a fundamental right, an "infringement" ???? These issues will certainly not be entirely resolved during my lifetime.

    • trickyblain

      Good questions. In California we have fairly recent regs that require handgun ammo "registration." We have to give a fingerprint and address before signing. A few weeks after going shooting wiht my buddy – me with my Garand and he with his .40, he got a knock on his door from the local PD. Unbeknowst to my friend, the ammo he bought and used up at the range miraculously reconstituted itself and was used in a Sacramento homicide.

      • coyote3

        "In California…." My condolences, and sincerest sympathy. Seriously though, what did the police think happened?

        • trickyblain

          California is great for some things — I can pick the ocean or the Sierra for a day trip and be back to my place by 5 either way. Other things (whacked-out gov't and regs) not so much.
          Can't really say for sure — It was a mix up. I guess the perp bought the ammo at the same place, and somehow they traced it back to my friend through what was undoubtedly a bureaucratic slipup. He, obviously, had nothing to do with the homicide. The police were more angry at getting sent on a wild goose chase than anything.

          • wardog06

            Your friend was VERY lucky; he could easily have been shredded by armored goons on steroids with MP5s . If anyone ever noticed the mistake, they'd either claim he was an accomplice or that he was a white supremacist who fired first…We need to simultaneously re-arm the populace and de-militarize the police!

  • aspacia

    Insightful article. Well-written and to the point. Guns are only dangerous in the hands of criminals and those untrained in their use.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WilliamJWard WilliamJamesWard

    It's a tough deal taking the responsibility of pointing a loaded gun at anyone. I have
    found that it was not as hard in the military or during law enforcement time but
    it is not for a good feeling, it is to protect and defend, to stay alive. I have avoided
    carrying a loaded firearm but keep one at home with two german shepherds,
    a mean wife, land mines on the property with booby traps everywhere and
    a small hydrogen bomb in the basement, so there………..William

  • Dave Cumming

    The author is fudging a bit when saying it is a question whether increasing the number of guns has a positive or negative effect upon violent crime. Since states began passing shall-issue laws over 2 decades ago, in each state, murder and other violent crimes have decreased. In Chicago, when the onerous law which was just labelled unconstitutional went into effect, the homicide rate went up immediately. Now Chicago "enjoys" a murder rate three times the national average. Only a total nimrod like Daley can pretend that is "working."

    SCOTUS made sure there is a great deal of work ahead for attorneys, by failing to be more explicit in what "reasonable" means. Given that the studies done by the CDC and the Nat. Academy of Science were unable to discover a single crime which had been prevented by any of the gun control laws they studied, I think one can make a good case for suggesting that none of the 20K+ gun control on the books in the US are unreasonable. None of them deter criminals from using guns in criminal ways.