Saturday, April 14, 2012
Speaking Of Reasonable Limits To Rights
A little aside from Heller:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose...Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.26 [Footnote: We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.]
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”...
It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.
This is actually one reason I joined the NRA. While I agree the 2nd Amendment pertains to individual rights--per Heller--there are clearly reasonable bounds we can debate and implement through the political process. I'd like the NRA to represent socially-responsible gun ownership, rather than rabid Tackleberry and Homer types writing legislation.
In the spirit of a West Wing episode:
Matt Skinner: You know I never understood why you gun control people don't all join the NRA. They've got two million members, you bring three million to the next meeting, call a vote; 'All those in favor of tossing guns?' (snaps fingers) Bam. Move on.
If we did that then Romney wouldn't be able to help Wayne LaPierre with his fearmongering...
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