Here we go again

Here we go again. Mr. Mike Kerstetter has commented on another letter of mine (this time, “Of Muskets and AR-15’s). He has yet again managed to get two little things completely wrong: What I said and what I didn’t say.

I did not say, that “The District of Columbia v Heller” was wrong because the 2nd Amendment didn’t give an individual right to own arms. What I did say was that the amendment literally and explicitly protects the individual’s right to a gun to fulfill the duty to serve in a militia.

I did not say that this right was conferred on militias, the government, or the police. I did say it was conferred on people; i.e., individual citizens. All of the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment serves to protect individuals from the excesses of government.

I did not say that the word “arms” was restricted to muskets any more than I implied that the words “free speech” were restricted to quill pens and ink but not to emails.

I did not say that “the District of Columbia vs. Heller was a “rogue” decision, or that it is a dishonest or unprincipled one. I said it was a novelty that had the effect of replacing the original Second Amendment.

It is a new-found right that represents “a dramatic reversal of the Court’s previous interpretation of the Second Amendment, and until that time, a constitutional right to gun ownership was not explicitly protected.”

In his haste to distort the content of my letter, Mr. Kerstetter fails to cite what I actually wrote, much less refute it as he blithely destroys his own fabrication of my words. My focus was on the words of the amendment and its contemporaneous and subsequent legislative history, not on irrelevancies like “obiter dicta” (the passing remarks) of individual Founding Fathers extolling the glories of gun ownership.

1. There is neither a single word about an individual right to a gun for self-defense or other personal purposes in the text of the Second Amendment, nor in the debate prior to its adoption, nor in any of the notes of the Constitutional Convention, nor on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as it marked up the Second Amendment.

2. Since 1791, no Supreme Court ever ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun apart from a militia; that is, until 2008.

3. In D.C. vs. Heller in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for lawful use unrelated to service in a militia. Whether or not Heller was wrongly decided, it was, in fact, authoritatively decided…at least for now. It is the Constitutional law of the land.

4. Therefore, the courts, the government, and individual citizens including me have no choice but to recognize that decision.

In my opinion, however, D.C. vs. Heller was like a wild pitch that was called a strike by the umpire, whose opinion is the only one that counts. However mistaken the umpire’s call, the official score card registers the pitch as a strike. And, that’s the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision. After all the jawboning, it still stands, subject to restrictions noted by Justice Scalia, even though the decision has more to do with the mother of all gun lobbying organizations than with the Fathers of our country.

Tim Mannello


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