Readers’ comments: May 19, 2023
Second Amendment interpretation discussion continues
While many choose to ignore the first part of the Second Amendment, it must be to modify of the second part. If you are a justice that receives gifts from pro-gun benefactors, you might be inclined to ignore the first words of the Second Amendment and rule the words “shall not be infringed” are original, and unchangeable.
But the words “keep and bear Arms” demand analysis. If you considered yourself an originalist, then you must define “arms.” At that time, anything from pitchforks and hoes, to muzzle loading rifles with bayonets would have been considered arms. And if the local leaders who were forming militias needed rifles and muskets, they had no qualm confiscating them from farmers and locals who weren’t using them. There were no local rifle manufacturers providing them. Perhaps that’s why those that wrote the Second Amendment included the words “shall not be infringed,” to insure there were enough arms available to muster a militia.”
That being said, the real issue is what we consider acceptable hunting and self-defense weapons for civilians. While true originalism should restrict those arms to bayonets and muskets, that’s unreasonable today. But we do prohibit the private ownership of “tommy guns,” grenades, RPG launchers, surface to air missiles, bunker busting bombs, and both tactical and intercontinental nuclear missiles, and all of those fall under the classification as “arms.”
Many — myself included — think military style, high capacity, semi-automatic rifles and handguns should not be readily available to the general public. Their clear purpose is to rapidly kill a lot of people.
While some say they need matching firepower to a tyrannical government, others call that a violent threat to the U.S. government that should be investigated as open sedition.