Anti-Gunner's Op-Ed Engages in Mental Gymnastics to Justify Gun Control

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The text of the Second Amendment doesn't seem to be all that difficult. Yes, the opening clause seems to muddle things up a bit, but the whole "the people's right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" seems pretty straightforward.


But a lot of people don't see it that way. 

Most just ignore the text itself, claiming that it's outdated and archaic. How the Second Amendment is outdated by the First and the Fourth aren't is something none have tried to explain, at least that I can recall.

Others engage in some interesting mental gymnastics to try and justify it, such as we can find in this op-ed out of Maine.

I believe the old argument that unrestricted gun rights is a right bestowed on Americans by the Constitution is not at all accurate. If one were to read the Federalist Papers it would quickly become evident that limitations to rights are purposefully embedded in the Constitution. 

Federalist 29 comments on the Constitution and militias. It focuses on militias because, as the Constitution was written, it would be militias that would protect this young nation, not a standing army. As Alexander Hamilton noted in 1788, most new Americans did not have the time to participate in a standing army, they had farms to tend to. To take farmers from their responsibilities in the fields would hurt the growth of the nation. It was for this reason that the Second Amendment phrasing was written the way it was; “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.” In fact, under original interpretation, neither Black nor Indigenous peoples were allowed to possess arms because they were not to be in militias.


It wasn't so much that they weren't able to be in militias. It was that black and Native Americans weren't really considered people by many.

Let's remember that this was a nation built on the idea that all men were created equal, that people should be free while keeping slaves in many states. Why? Because black people weren't really people in many minds of the time.

Remember the three-fifths compromise?

The South, which held slaves, wanted them counted as people simply for the legislative advantages. They weren't going to allow them to vote, only be counted. The North didn't want to lose its advantage didn't want them counted at all.

These were people, but they weren't treated like people by either side of the debate.

Now, if they weren't treated as people, why would anyone think they would be entitled to Second Amendment rights?

So, gun rights have been limited and taken away in some instances, throughout our history. The fact is, that until the landmark 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, previous Supreme Court cases had ruled that the right of individual citizens to bear arms existed only within the context of participation in a militia.

What the author fails to admit is that there weren't tons of Second Amendment rulings by the Supreme Court before Heller. Two of the cases argued that states could make their own gun control laws, that the Second Amendment applied only to the federal government, but those were negated by the 14th Amendment's incorporation clause.


That leaves the Miller decision, which does mention militias but doesn't really argue that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms. It merely upholds a restriction on a gun that isn't useful for militia service.

Frankly, Miller is a terrible case to invoke if you're favoring things like assault weapon bans, for the record.

The final decision pre-Bruen, Lewis v. US, simply said that convicted felons could, in fact, be stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

So there's really not a lot of precedence backing up this idea that we really can and should restrict guns somehow embedded in the Second Amendment itself. What the author has done is took previous infringements and racism and tried to pretend they were anything other than what they were, hoping you wouldn't notice that he's literally suggesting support for racist laws, and trying to expand the intrusion into people's rights.

It would be hilarious if our rights weren't on the line.

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