I finished reading The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis (2015). The title refers to George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. More about the book in the future.
In reading the footnotes – what a nerd! -one jumped out at me. “…for judicial devotees of the ‘original intent’ doctrine” – what DID the Founders mean? – “Madison’s motives” in crafting what became the Second Amendment to the Constitution “are clear beyond any doubt.”
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.
“To wit, the right to bear arms derived from the needs to make state militias the core pillar of national defense” rather than a professional, federal army, which skeptics of federalism feared as threats to small-r republican values. .
“To avoid reaching that conclusion, the [Supreme Court] majority opinion in Heller [v. District of Columbia, 2008], written by Justice Antonin Scalia, is an elegant example of legalistic legerdemain masquerading as erudition. Madison is rolling over in his grave.”
Those not familiar with the fancy noun, it means 1. sleight of hand 2. trickery; deception 3. any artful trick.
In other words, the suggestion that Scalia’s argument is originalist is pure hokum. The Supreme Court had made only a couple rulings over two centuries on that amendment and, it would seem, got it wrong the second time.
In making this ruling, SCOTUS has empowered folks, including some in the powerful National Rifle Association, to argue that ANY limitation on gun ownership is unconstitutional. If the First Amendment can be proscribed – no yelling “fire” in a crowded theater unless there are actually flames – surely the Second can be also.
My wife and I were watching NBC Nightly News on March 24, the day of March for Our Lives rallies all over the world. One of the early stories was Museums across the nation work to archive mementos of grief left after shootings. There is actually a protocol for collecting those items left after mass murders! “Jeff Schwartz of the Parkland [Florida] Historical Society is relying on advice from… curators across the country — from Columbine, Colorado, to Charleston, South Carolina — who have all faced such situations.” We both wept.
So I’m not all that concerned about the “crass ageism” of some of the survivors. The Parkland kids, as of March 24, had been in the media spotlight 39 days, still grieving. I cut them a LOT of slack. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn, welcome to the revolution,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky told the throngs in DC. “Either represent the people or get out. Stand for us or beware.”
I don’t know what the change in the gun culture will be, but I remain cautiously optimistic, because I have to be.
From The Doors:
The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We’re takin’ over