I stumbled across a story this morning which made me hesitate a little while before deciding to compose a quick response. Yesterday morning, Zack Ford, blogger at ThinkProgress.org, penned a story entitled “Scalia Suggests ‘Hand-Held Rocket Launchers’ Are Protected Under Second Amendment”. In the story, he references an earlier morning interview on Fox News with Justice Antonin Scalia in which Scalia was asked about his views on the Second Amendment with regards to the recent shooting in Aurora, CO. Scalia correctly alludes to the fact that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess and carry weapons of even military grade.
Mr. Ford makes the absurd claim that “(t)here is no conceivable way to apply the Founding Fathers’ understanding of a ‘well-regulated militia’ armed with slow-to-load, hard-to-aim muskets to today’s weapon technology. Arguably, the full extent of alleged gunman James Holmes’ munitions could have easily decimated an entire brigade of musketeers before they’d even loaded their first ball.” This is the favorite ploy of those who desire a more powerful government: fear. His ridiculous comparison of modern weapons carried by an individual used against a state agency using ancient weapons is both incongruous and deceitful. Citizens in the 18th century had access to then-modern weaponry just as the state agencies had access to them. Both the citizenry and state agencies had access to the modern weaponry of the 19thcentury as well. It was not until the 20thcentury that citizens began to have their access limited.
A more accurate comparison would be the average person with small caliber firearms versus state agencies with armored vehicles, automatic weapons, body armor, and the whole suite of goodies which are de facto or de jure off-limits to “mere” citizens. Mr. Ford’s claim was made for the sole purpose of inciting fear in the common man in order to encourage more individuals to clamor for more “protection” from Big Brother. If anything, I think the events in Aurora speak volumes regarding the inability of the state to protect individuals.
In any case, the overlooked phrase in this particular segment was Justice Scalia’s comment about the nature of the amendment being based on 18th century societal sentiment. In this respect, he is correct; the Second Amendment (in addition to the remainder of the Constitution) was agreed to by people living at that time. Unless we are to believe that people can be enslaved by previous generations, this particular agreement no longer stands valid and holds only voluntarily submitted authority over individuals. See my prior conversation on this topic for more.