May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State. - Heinrich Himmler
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Is Gun Ownership Necessary? Can We Just Erase The Second Amendment?

No matter which side you fall on, a difficult legal issue has arisen in our nation's capitol over their problem with handguns.  Here's the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment:  "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

What does it mean?

You may think you know - the right to bear arms, you say.  But go back and read it again.  Is it just the right of a well-regulated militia, made up of the people, to keep and bear arms?  Or is it the right of people to keep and bear arms, whether or not they're in a militia?  Beyond those two questions, two judges of the DC Court of Appeals, Judge Thomas B. Griffith and Senior Judge Laurence Silberman added another one:  is gun ownership necessary any longer?  Have we outgrown the need to have guns in our homes?

We're about to find out, if the District of Columbia has anything to say about it.  The District's City Council has banned handguns, and that ban is being challenged in Court in the case of Shelly Parker v. District of Columbia, case No. 04-7041.  From what MIPTC can see on the NRA's website, the gun lobby hasn't taken a position on the case yet, but the organization's opinion isn't really in doubt.  We wouldn't be surprised to have the NRA come out in support of Ms. Parker and her right to possess a gun.  Anti-gun advocates, on the other hand, support the ban.

We have a well-regulated militia.  They're called the Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and even the Marines, Seals and a bunch of other special forces and even some secret agencies like the CIA and the NSA.  We have police forces across the country - the FBI, state and local agencies.  Heck, the Texas Rangers can handle the whole Southwest, or so they say. 

The Court wants to know if we still need guns in our homes?  It's a legitimate question.  Let me pose an equally legitimate question:  can we just erase parts of the Constitution because our country has changed?  Amending the Constitution is not the job of the Courts, it's a job for Congress and the several states - the people.  Whether we've outgrown the need for guns is not the question to ask in this case.  The Constitution is full of things that supposedly don't apply any more - take slavery for example - but we don't just erase parts of the Constitution in court decisions because they don't apply anymore. 

The judicial debate over the Second Amendment should involve an interpretation of the language in the Amendment itself, not whether the Constitution is out of date.  That's a matter for a different forum.  Courts are supposed to interpret, not legislate.  Let's hope the Court sticks to the issues within its purview. 

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, December 09, 2006 at 12:11 Comments (3)


Comments by John Schroeder from United States on Friday, December 15, 2006 at 14:21 - IP Logged
Question for the two judges of the DC Court of Appeals. Have we outgrown the need to have armed deputies in court? How about all those unreasonable searches that take place before a person can enter a government building? Why shackle a defendant whose guilt has not yet been determined?

Comments by Ken from United States on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 09:46 - IP Logged
The claim may or not be absurd, but is legally, um, unsupportable. May it please the court ;-), I wish to quote Title 10 of the US Code:
Sec. 311. Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists 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.
(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
To be fair, I agree entirely with the last paragraph of your post. As to whether we still need guns in our homes--I am unaware of a revolution in human nature.

Comments by Daniel Quackenbush from United States on Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 02:48 - IP Logged
You say that the "well regulated militia" is the armed forces, and others. However, it seems absurd to claim that we need to have a constitutional provision to guarantee the "right to keep and bear arms." Armed forces, by definition, are called "armed." No constitutional amendment was necessary to guarantee that the armed forces are armed. Thus, the Second Amendment, is to guarantee the right of the "people" (not the armed forces) to keep and bear arms.

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