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The Parker Case gets some WaPo time

The WaPo:

In a case that could shape firearms laws nationwide, attorneys for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

The city defended as constitutional its long-standing ban on handguns, a law that some gun opponents have advocated elsewhere. Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.

Kudos to the WaPo for not referring to the good guys as the powerful gun lobby. More:

At issue in the case before a federal appeals court is whether the 2nd Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” applies to all people or only to “a well regulated militia.” The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the amendment’s scope. The court disappointed gun owner groups in 2003 when it refused to take up a challenge to California’s ban on high-powered weapons.

In the Washington, D.C. case, a lower-court judge told six city residents in 2004 that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who want guns for protection.

There’s more. I have to day, and I don’t do this often, it’s a fairly balanced piece from the other liberal Washington paper. Balanced or not, this should scare you:

Silberman and Judge Thomas B. Griffith seemed to wrestle, however, with the meaning of the amendment’s language about militias. If a well-regulated militia is no longer needed, they asked, is the right to bear arms still necessary?

“That’s quite a task for any court to decide that a right is no longer necessary,” Alan Gura, an attorney for the plaintiffs, replied. “If we decide that it’s no longer necessary, can we erase any part of the Constitution?”

This will be an interesting case to watch.

16 Responses to “The Parker Case gets some WaPo time”

  1. Xrlq Says:

    The worst part of the “necessary” bit is that unlike the “collective rights” nonsense, it is almost congruent with the plain language of the Second Amendment. I think the most natural grammatical reading means “We have determined that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, therefore, the RKBA shall not be infringed,” it’s not that much of a stretch to read it as “So long as a well-regulated militia remains necessary to the security of a free state, the RKBA shall not be infringed.”

  2. beerslurpy Says:

    I think the founders were more worried about securing the freedom of the “free state” than securing its authority over the citizenry.

    An armed populace has never been necessary to preserve the authority of a government. In fact, you could argue that armed populaces can make life pretty miserable for the authority of a government when it is misused. I wonder if that could have been the idea behind the 2nd amendment?

  3. Gunstar1 Says:

    Would that same argument hold true today for “the press”? With the internet and TV, the traditional newspaper press is dying out. If technology progresses to a point where a printing press is not needed/used any longer, can we get rid of the freedom of the press?

  4. #9 Says:

    So what if someone creates an Internet Militia? Would membership satisfy the requirement? With telecommunications it would be more efficient and responsive than any Militia in history.

    Say the Militia’s only mission statement was to defend the Constitution and Country? With membership you would receive a card stating you were a member.

    Problem solved?

    I just put this out as a worse case scenario. Of course you would have to justify the need for the Militia. Hurricane Katrina works for me. The point is that in Calvinball the Court could determine there is no modern need for Militias. That is a trump card. I see no way possible it would pass the Supreme Court.

    This will be an exercise in weasel words. If you ever wonder why politics is important remember how and who appoints Judges.

    I never bought the “Militia” part as the key and single requirement. The language to me meant we had not just the right to bear arms but the responsibility. How else could the vision of the founders have been protected? They envisioned possible government tyranny and acted to prevent it.

    Typical DC bull. I’ll bet Michael Bloomberg is giddy. There are few things I can think of that could cause a massive civil insurrection in America, an attempt to disarm lawful gun owners and citizens would be a catastrophe on an unprecedented level. This is far beyond liberalism, I don’t know what to call it. Only totalitarianism comes to mind.

  5. Lyle Says:

    beerslurpy pretty well hit it. But there is no need to speculate on what the Founders meant because they were very clear about it. There can be no debate without ignoring well-documented public record on the subject.

    And can anyone possibly argue that the Founders were afraid of the government disarming itself, to the extent that they had to apply the term “the People” in a special sense not used anywhere else in the Constitution? Right– all those other governments around the world who forcibly disarmed their own armies were of such concern back then…

    Tell you what: Lets all join hands (to show that we care about one another) and take a running jump off a 500 foot cliff. It about the same thing, as far as I’m concerned, as debating whether as fundamental a human right as self protection is any longer necessary.

    Only a flaming, hard-core communist, or a child, would even ponder it.

  6. Kevin Baker Says:

    “Silberman and Judge Thomas B. Griffith seemed to wrestle, however, with the meaning of the amendment’s language about militias. If a well-regulated militia is no longer needed, they asked, is the right to bear arms still necessary?”

    That didn’t stop the 9th Circus in Hickman v. Block or Silviera v. Lockyer or Nordyke v. King. As Judge Kleinfeld explained:

    The panel opinion holds that the Second Amendment “imposes no limitation on California’s [or any other state’s] ability to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting the possession or use of firearms” and “does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms.” The panel opinion erases the Second Amendment from our Constitution as effectively as it can, by holding that no individual even has standing to challenge any law restricting firearm possession or use. This means that an individual cannot even get a case into court to raise the question. The panel’s theory is that “the Second Amendment affords only a collective right,” an odd deviation from the individualist philosophy of our Founders. The panel strikes a novel blow in favor of states’ rights, opining that “the amendment was not adopted to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession,” but was instead “adopted to ensure that effective state militias would be maintained, thus preserving the people’s right to bear arms.” It is not clear from the opinion whom the states would sue or what such a suit would claim were they to try to enforce this right. The panel’s protection of what it calls the “people’s right to bear arms” protects that “right” in the same fictional sense as the “people’s” rights are protected in a “people’s democratic republic.”

    However, as he concluded in his dissent:

    About twenty percent of the American population, those who live in the Ninth Circuit, have lost one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And, the methodology used to take away the right threatens the rest of the Constitution. The most extraordinary step taken by the panel opinion is to read the frequently used Constitutional phrase, “the people,” as conferring rights only upon collectives, not individuals. There is no logical boundary to this misreading, so it threatens all the rights the Constitution guarantees to “the people,” including those having nothing to do with guns. I cannot imagine the judges on the panel similarly repealing the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right of “the people” to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, or the right of “the people” to freedom of assembly, but times and personnel change, so that this right and all the other rights of “the people” are jeopardized by planting this weed in our Constitutional garden.

    Now the DC District court is looking to plant that weed on the East coast.

  7. Standard Mischief Says:


    Civil liberties groups and pro-gun organizations say the ban in unconstitutional.


    Kudos to the WaPo for not referring to the good guys as the powerful gun lobby.

    Yea, but when they say Civil liberties groups, is that a code word for big (L) Libertarians or other parties and groups that shall not be named?

  8. Kirk Parker Says:

    Say kind words about the WAPO if you like, but still they managed to call California’s ban a probition of “high-powered” weapons, rather than the more accurate “scary-looking”.

  9. beerslurpy Says:

    That was so unbiased, for a second I almost thought the ACLU was arguing for our side.

  10. Ron w Says:

    A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state (subordinate clause), the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infirnged (independent or main clause). –2nd Article of the Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution

    Since when, in the rules of English grammar, does the subordinate or dependent clause of a sentence negate the meaning of the independent or main clause of the same sentence?

    Accordingly, “Suppose the Second amendment said ‘A well-educated electorate being
    necessary for self-governance in a free state, the right of the people to keep and
    read books shall not be infringed.’ Is there anyone who would suggest that means
    only registered voters have a right to read?”–Robert Levy, Georgetown
    University Professor

    “If we do not, under the existing phraseology of the Constitution, have a
    genuine right to own and carry firearms, then I say no other part of the
    Constitution is worth a damn either.” –William B. Ruger

  11. Ninth Stage Says:

    Arms in the peoples hands are necessary to secure a free state. The state they envision is, by definition, not free. A man unable to protect himself is a dependent.

  12. ben Says:

    Boy, I dunno, this is scarry. It could be good, which would be a little unbelieveable, or it could be bad, which I can believe, or it could be more of the same, which is probably the most likely.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the outcome was what it obviously should be?

  13. markm Says:

    Don’t worry (or get elated) until the Supreme Court grants cert – and I put the odds of that at 99:1 against. They’ve been ducking directly addressing the meaning of the 2nd for 70 years. In the last case where they did look at it, they sent the case back to a lower court for factfinding on whether Miller’s sawed off shotgun was a “militia weapon” – implying that Miller had an individual RKBA for anything that fit that description. (Except Miller was dead and his lawyer was unpaid, so the lower court hearing was never held.) Following that logic, when the army started widely issuing full-auto individual weapons, they became covered under the individual right protected by the 2nd, and the SC would rather refuse to hear cases forever than acknowledge that…

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  16. k-romulus Says:

    If anyone has insomnia, they can check out the rough transcript I wrote up after attending the oral arguments: