Friday, March 09, 2007

What part of "the people" is so hard to understand?

Preamble: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union...

First Amendment: Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people to peacably assemble...

Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects... shall not be violated...

Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Second Amendment: 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.

Notice anything identical in all those passages from our Constitution? Of course you should, I bolded it for you. Every one of those passages speaks of "the people". When you read, "the people", do you assume that means everyone in the United States? I do; it seems logical enough. According to present jurisprudence, all those above passages do apply to everyone... except the last one; the Second Amendment. Over and over, the government and our courts have determined that rather than guaranteeing an individual right to bear arms, the Second Amendment describes a "collective" state right that only applies to members of the state militia, i.e., the National Guard. A couple of years back, there was a decision in a case out of Texas called United States v. Emerson where the 5th Circuit Court determined ownership of a firearm to be an individual, not a state right, but that was only one decision out of many others that found exactly the opposite, and Emerson was largely ignored or pooh-poohed by our legal system and our so-called mainstream media.

Today, things got kicked up a notch. A three judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court, the most influential court in the country aside from the Supreme Court, found in a 2-1 decision that the gun ban in Washington D.C. is unconstitutional because it violates the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This is a huge decision because of the gravitas that the D.C. Circuit Court brings to the table. This decision will most likely go before the entire D.C. Circuit Court rather than the three judge panel, so who knows what the eventual outcome of the case will be, but it is monumental just the same. There is even talk of this case maybe, perhaps going before the Supreme Court sometime this year.

The Supreme Court has never given a clear decision on the status of the Second Amendment. The only case of any consequence on which they have rendered a decision is the case of United States v. Miller back in 1939! In that case, the SCOTUS played both sides of the fence, saying that Miller shouldn't have been in possession of the sawed-off shotgun for which he was arrested and convicted because it wasn't a weapon that was sufficient enough to be considered for use in a militia. Because of this muddled ruling, both sides of the gun control debate have been able to use the Miller decision to justify their position on the subject.

I have had my share of arguments with people who either want guns banned outright, or severely limited. They inevitably bring up their illogical interpretation of the Second Amendment whereby they posit that it only guarantees the right of state militias to bear arms. Imagine their pleasant surprise when I agree with them. Their giddiness disappears however, when I explain to them who is considered to be in the militia. That information is found in Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 311 (10USC311). The National Guard is part of our militia, yes, but there is more:
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
The unorganized militia is made up of everyone else who is not required to be in the militia. We the people are all in the militia. The only difference is that some have to be, and the rest can decide for themselves. As founding father, George Mason so eloquently put it, "I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers." I'll tell you one thing, if there is anyplace in our country that needs a militia, it is Washington D.C. Look at their crime rate for pete's sake. Do you think a gun ban since 1976 has done them any good? Let's hope that the case brought by six residents of D.C. who want to arm themselves against the thugs and lowlifes (no, not Congress) of our nation's capital bears fruit in the highest court in the land. Of course, no matter what the Supreme Court says, I will continue to exercise my God-given right to protect and defend myself and my family, whether it be from a common criminal, a foreign invader, or, God forbid, my own tyrannical government.

Good Day to You, Sir


Darren said...

The militia argument goes too far, and is too susceptible to being twisted.

The 2nd Amendment in reality protects each citizen's right to bear arms so that they *can* form militias if they so desire.

Isn't that a simpler interpretation that's clearly in accord with the words of the Amendment?

Chanman said...

I totally agree; I just find it amusing that even our own government agrees that the militia includes everyone.

nebraska girl said...

Finally, sanity prevails. Darren hits the nail on the head. Some people feel that the government will provide arms to the militia, but what if the militia is formed to cast off a tyrannical government. Do they really think the government will give us weapons if we're trying to throw a revolution? The founders intended for us to be able to rein in our governing bodies if we need to.