Tuesday, March 13, 2007


This past Friday, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals found, 2-1, that individual citizens indeed do have the constitutional right to keep (and if need be bear) arms in their homes for self-defense.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. The forces of collectivism and authoritarianism HATE the idea of an armed populace. It threatens their plans for a "better" United States of America.

Those rational souls whose legal opinions matter and who disagree with the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision base their disagreement on the following couple of things:

  1. They maintain that we should follow the instructions of late Justice Warren Burger and read the Second Amendment as follows: “Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the defense of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Then, these people declare that the militia is no longer “necessary” – thus, there is no injunction against infringing (or indeed abolishing) the right to keep and bear arms.
  2. Precedent (specifically SCOTUS precedent) is such that an ‘individual rights’ interpretation is counter to “accepted collective right jurisprudence” (and thus Friday's decision amounts to “judicial activism”).

Here is why they are wrong:

  1. First, (duh!) the Amendment does NOT contain “because”. A while back, several highly regarded grammarians were asked to evaluate the wording and punctuation of the amendment and they indicated that it makes perfect sense as written – and to them it was clear that the authors intended an individual right. However, let us assume that the mighty Burger was right. We find that the right enumerated still obtains. If you put the amendment into an “IF, THEN” construction, we find that even if we deny the ‘if’ statement, that in no way invalidates the ‘then’ portion. To do so is to commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent. Just because a well regulated militia may no longer be necessary, it DOES NOT FOLLOW that the right to keep and bear arms may or should be infringed. The right was one which could be found in English common law and predated the republic. The 2nd amendment “grants” nothing, it merely guarantees a right which all free men understood themselves to possess.

  1. The precedents mentioned by anti-individual right legal types are all of dubious value and provenance. There are basically three: U.S. v Cruikshank (1876); Presser v Illinois (1883); U.S. v Miller (1939). The first was a dreadful decision which sided with the KKK against the rights of recently freed blacks. The second was an equally flawed decision which sided with an out of control government of the state of Illinois which denied the rights of citizens who were seeking to unionize to organize a defense against violent governmental oppression. If you are going to argue that these precedents should be followed, then you would necessarily have to argue (if logical consistency means anything to you) that Brown v Board of Education was wrongly decided. The third was an incomplete decision which has been twisted out of all proper interpretation. In ‘Miller’ the court held that Mr. Miller had no reasonable expectation of second amendment protection because the weapon which he was convicted of possessing illegally, a sawed-off shotgun, was not a weapon which the militia would use. ‘Collective right’ proponents have long argued that this indicates that only a militia has any right to arms. This decision was wrong because, first, short-barreled shotguns had been in military use as recently as World War I, so it was indeed a militia weapon – also the decision was flawed because it never explicated who/what was the militia. The militia act of 1792 spelled out who was in the militia – and this act, most recently updated in 1956 (and very much still in effect in the U.S. Code) clearly states that all able-bodied persons between the ages of 18 and 45 are members of the militia.

There are many ‘unserious’ complainants against this decision, but they cannot be taken seriously. One school of thought maintains that the militia is in fact the National Guard. The Militia Act of 1903 does allow for the creation of a National Guard, but does not change the basic definition of militia. Thus, while hope springs eternal, to claim that our founders, in A.D. 1790 foresaw the creation of the National Guard in 1917, is not merely to strain credulity but to snap it in two like a dry twig.

No, despite the linguistic, grammatical and etymological flips and twists done by those who would deny our right to self-defense, any seventh-grader can clearly understand what Madison, et. al. meant when they wrote: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the defense of a free state; the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It was a good day for Liberty and a bad day for the forces of collectivism. That is why I say, “Huzzah! God save the republic.”

Much of what I’m talking about can be found here:



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