Saturday, June 11, 2022

Being Necessary to the Security of a Free State

Essay in The Atlantic:
Gun-rights activists point to the 2008 Supreme Court decision in Heller v. District of Columbia as finally establishing, some 219 years after the ratification of the Second Amendment, an individual right to possess a gun in the home,
Actually, nearly every court decision refers to the 2A as an individual right. The only exceptions were the lower federal courts in the latter XX century.
Such a popularized version of our Constitution’s meaning was in part vindicated by a conservative Supreme Court majority, whose opinion in Heller focused principally on the second half of the Second Amendment, which reads, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” ...

But this version of the Second Amendment ignores the first half, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

That court opinion was poorly explained. So let's not ignore the first half.

Everyone had guns in Colonial America. Citizens were required to have guns. They believed that for a state to be free, the people had to have guns. The Militia was a word for the people having guns.

That may seem quaint today, but Switzerland is free because the people have guns.

Libertarians want guns for themselves. 2A believers want to live in a country with the bulk of the citizens have guns.

While the "being necessary" clause is a rationale for the right to keep and bear arms, it is notthe only rationale. It is like saying "open politial discourse being necessary for democracy, the right of free speech shall not be infringed." That would mean we need free speech for democracy, and we get free speech for other things also.

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