Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Monday, April 20, 2009


Well, it isn't that big a victory, but still - coming out of the 9th Circus, it's a bloody miracle!

In 1996 the 9th handed down their decision of Hickman v. Block wherein:
Hickman owns and operates a responding security alarm company. He is also a federally licensed arms dealer. Wishing to break into the lucrative field of "executive protection," Hickman submitted a string of applications for a concealed firearms permit to the appellee municipal authorities. When the authorities denied Hickman's applications, he filed this suit for damages and injunctive relief, arguing several theories of liability under 42 U.S.C. sections 1983 and 1985(3). We considered and rejected in a unpublished memorandum disposition all of Hickman's various arguments save one: his claim for relief under section 1983 based on a violation of the Second Amendment.
The Court's decision:
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "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." U.S. Const. amend. II. Hickman argues that the Second Amendment requires the states to regulate gun ownership and use in a "reasonable" manner. The question presented at the threshold of Hickman's appeal is whether the Second Amendment confers upon individual citizens standing to enforce the right to keep and bear arms. We follow our sister circuits in holding that the Second Amendment is a right held by the states, and does not protect the possession of a weapon by a private citizen. We conclude that Hickman can show no legal injury, and therefore lacks standing to bring this action.


This case turns on the first constitutional standing element: whether Hickman has shown injury to an interest protected by the Second Amendment. We note at the outset that no individual has ever succeeded in demonstrating such injury in federal court. The seminal authority in this area continues to be United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), in which the Supreme Court upheld a conviction under the National Firearms Act, 26 U.S.C. S 1132 (1934), for transporting a sawed-off shotgun in interstate commerce. The Court rejected the appellant's hypothesis that the Second Amendment protected his possession of that weapon. Consulting the text and history of the amendment, the Court found that the right to keep and bear arms is meant solely to protect the right of the states to keep and maintain armed militia. In a famous passage, the Court held that [i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that the possession or use of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. 307 U.S. at 178. The Court's understanding follows a plain reading of the Amendment's text. The Amendment's second clause declares that the goal is to preserve the security of "a free state;" its first clause establishes the premise that well-regulated militia are necessary to this end. Thus it is only in furtherance of state security that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is finally proclaimed.

Following Miller, "[i]t is clear that the Second Amendment guarantees a collective rather than an individual right." United States v. Warin, 530 F.2d 103, 106 (6th Cir.), cert. denied 96 S.Ct. 3168 (1976); see also Thomas v. Members of City Council of Portland, 730 F.2d 41, 42 (1st Cir. 1984) (same, citing Warin); United States v. Johnson, 497 F.2d 548, 550 (4th Cir. 1974) (cited with approval in Lewis, 445 U.S. at 65 n.8) (same). Because the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the states to maintain armed militia, the states alone stand in the position to show legal injury when this right is infringed.
This was the 9th's whole argument. Remember it.

Edited to add: Reader juris_imprudent calls attention to something most people miss. Note the emphasized portion of the quote above. This is the best indication of just how closely the 9th Circus read Miller. The Supreme Court didn't "uphold a conviction" - Miller was appealed to the Supreme Court because the District Court quashed the indictment on Second Amendment grounds. The GOVERNMENT appealed, not the plaintiff. Neither the plaintiff nor his counsel were present for oral arguments in Miller and no briefs on his side were presented.

And the 9th Circus somehow missed that in their detailed and nuanced understanding of the Miller decision. (End edit.)

In 2001 the 5th Circuit heard U.S. v. Emerson in which:
On August 28, 1998, Sacha Emerson, Emerson's wife, filed a petition for divorce in the 119th District Court of Tom Green County, Texas. The petition also requested, inter alia, a temporary injunction enjoining Emerson from engaging in any of twenty-nine enumerated acts. On September 4, 1998, Judge Sutton held a temporary orders evidentiary hearing. Sacha Emerson was represented by counsel while Emerson appeared pro se. There is no evidence that Emerson was unable (financially or otherwise) to retain counsel or the hearing or that he desired representation by counsel on that occasion. He announced ready at the beginning of the September 4 hearing. Almost all of Sacha Emerson's direct testimony concerned financial matters, but the following relevant exchange took place on direct examination by her attorney:
Q You are here today asking the Court for temporary orders regarding yourself and your daughter; is that correct?

A Yes.

Q You have asked in these restraining orders regarding Mr. Emerson in that he not communicate with you in an obscene, vulgar, profane, indecent manner, in a coarse or offensive manner?

A Yes.

Q He has previous to today threatened to kill you; is that correct?

A He hasn't threatened to kill me. He's threatened to kill a friend of mine.

Q Okay. And he has threatened - he has made some phone calls to you about that?

A Yes.
Emerson declined an opportunity to cross-examine Sacha and presented no evidence tending to refute any of her above quoted testimony or to explain his conduct in that respect. In his testimony he stated in another connection, among other things, that he was suffering from "anxiety" and was not "mentally in a good state of mind."
On September 14, 1998, Judge Sutton issued a temporary order that included a "Temporary Injunction" which stated that Emerson "is enjoined from" engaging in any of twenty-two enumerated acts, including the following:
"2. Threatening Petitioner in person, by telephone, or in writing to take unlawful action against any person."

"4. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to Petitioner
or to a child of either party."

"5. Threatening Petitioner or a child of either party with imminent bodily
The order provides that it "shall continue in force until the signing of the final decree of divorce or until further order of this court." The September 14, 1998 order did not include any express finding that Emerson posed a future danger to Sacha or to his daughter Logan.

There is nothing to indicate that Emerson ever sought to modify or challenge any of the provisions of the September 14, 1998 order.

On December 8, 1998, the grand jury for the Northern District of Texas, San Angelo division, returned a five-count indictment against Emerson. The government moved to dismiss counts 2 through 5, which motion the district court subsequently granted. Count 1, the only remaining count and the count here at issue, alleged that Emerson on November 16, 1998, unlawfully possessed "in and affecting interstate commerce" a firearm, a Beretta pistol, while subject to the above mentioned September 14, 1998 order, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8).

It appears that Emerson had purchased the pistol on October 10, 1997, in San Angelo, Texas, from a licensed firearms dealer. Emerson does not claim that the pistol had not previously traveled in interstate or foreign commerce. It is not disputed that the September 14, 1998 order was in effect at least through November 16, 1998.

Emerson moved pretrial to dismiss the indictment, asserting that section 922(g)(8), facially and as applied to him, violates the Second Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. He also moved to dismiss on the basis that section 922(g)(8) was an improper exertion of federal power under the Commerce Clause and that, in any case, the law unconstitutionally usurps powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment. An evidentiary hearing was held on Emerson's motion to dismiss.

The district court granted Emerson's motions to dismiss. Subsequently, the district court issued an amended memorandum opinion reported at 46 F. Supp. 2d 598 (N.D. Tex. 1999). The district court held that dismissal of the indictment was proper on Second or Fifth Amendment grounds, but rejected Emerson's Tenth Amendment and Commerce Clause arguments.

The government appealed.
Of course it did. The 5th Circuit panel then did what pretty much no other appeals court had done since the 1939 Miller case: it did a thorough review of Miller and an "original understanding" review of the Second Amendment, concluding in a 73-page decision heavy with footnotes and references. Their conclusion:
We reject the collective rights and sophisticated collective rights models for interpreting the Second Amendment. We hold, consistent with Miller, that it protects the right of individuals, including those not then actually a member of any militia or engaged in active military service or training, to privately possess and bear their own firearms, such as the pistol involved here, that are suitable as personal, individual weapons and are not of the general kind or type excluded by Miller. However, because of our holding that section 922(g)(8), as applied to Emerson, does not infringe his individual rights under the Second Amendment we will not now further elaborate as to the exact scope of all Second Amendment rights.


Although, as we have held, the Second Amendment does protect individual rights, that does not mean that those rights may never be made subject to any limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country. Indeed, Emerson does not contend, and the district court did not hold, otherwise. As we have previously noted, it is clear that felons, infants and those of unsound mind may be prohibited from possessing firearms.


We agree with the district court that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to privately keep and bear their own firearms that are suitable as individual, personal weapons and are not of the general kind or type excluded by Miller, regardless of whether the particular individual is then actually a member of a militia.66 However, for the reasons stated, we also conclude that the predicate order in question here is sufficient, albeit likely minimally so, to support the deprivation, while it remains in effect, of the defendant's Second Amendment rights.
It was a 3-0 decision in which a concurring opinion rebuking the research and review on the Second Amendment for the case was scathing, to the point of earning a response from the majority in footnote 66 of the decision:
We reject the special concurrence's impassioned criticism of our reaching the issue of whether the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. That precise issue was decided by the district court and was briefed and argued by both parties in this court and in the district court. Moreover, in reaching that issue we have only done what the vast majority of other courts faced with similar contentions have done (albeit our resolution of that question is different). The vast majority have not, as the special concurrence would have us do, simply said it makes no difference whether or not the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual right because even if it were an individual right the conviction (or the challenged statute) would be valid. In this case, unless we were to determine the issue of the proper construction of section 922(g)(8) in Emerson's favor (which the special concurrence does not suggest), resolution of this appeal requires us to determine the constitutionality of section 922(g)(8), facially and as applied, under the Second Amendment (as well as under the due process clause and the commerce clause). We have done so on a straightforward basis. We likewise reject the implied criticism (in the special concurrence's fourth paragraph) for not mentioning certain "facts" not alleged in the indictment, not found to be true by any trier of fact, and not relevant to the section 922(g)(8) violation alleged. The district court dismissed the indictment and Emerson has not yet been convicted of anything. In fact, we have been informed that he has been acquitted of state charges relating to the matter mentioned in the special concurrence.
This is known as a "smackdown." It was also the first time that a Federal Appeals Court had declared that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.

In 2002 the 9th handed down two Second Amendment decisions - Nordyke v. King (PDF) and Silveira v. Lockyer (PDF). Nordyke was a case about local government banning gun shows on county property. Silveira was a suit seeking to overturn the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapon Ban. The Silveira decision was handed down first, but an interesting thing happened there. The three-judge panel attempted its own review of Miller, striving to uphold the Hickman decision it was bound to by stare decisis. The results, if you've studied this stuff as long as I have, were laughable, or would have been if the subject were not so serious, but don't take my word for it. In the later Nordyke case came this footnote:
We should note in passing that in Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), another panel took it upon itself to review the constitutional protections afforded by the Second Amendment even though that panel was also bound by our court’s holding in Hickman. The panel in Silveira concluded that analysis of the text and historical record led it to the conclusion that the collective view of the Second Amendment is correct and that individual plaintiffs lack standing to sue.

However, we feel that the Silveira panel's exposition of the conflicting interpretations of the Second Amendment was both unpersuasive and, even more importantly, unnecessary. We agree with the concurring opinion in Silveira: "[W]e are bound by the Hickman decision, and resolution of the Second Amendment issue before the court today is simple: plaintiffs lack standing to sue for Second Amendment violations because the Second Amendment guarantees a collective, not an individual, right." Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1094 (9th Cir. 2002) (Magill, J., concurring). This represents the essential holding of Hickman and is the binding law of this circuit. There was simply no need for the Silveira panel’s broad digression. In a recent case, an individual plaintiff cited to the Fifth Circuit's holding in Emerson and argued that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. United States v. Hinostroza, 297 F.3d 924, 927 (9th Cir. 2002). However, we summarily, and properly as a matter of stare decisis, rejected the Second Amendment challenge on the grounds that it is foreclosed by this court’s holding in Hickman.

Therefore, despite the burgeoning legal scholarship supporting the "individual rights" theory as well as the Fifth Circuit's holding in Emerson, the Silveira panel's decision to re-examine the scope and purpose of the Second Amendment was improper. Because "only the court sitting en banc may overrule a prior decision of the court," Morton v. De Oliveira, 984 F.2d 289, 292 (9th Cir. 1993), the Silveira panel was bound by Hickman, and its rather lengthy re-consideration of Hickman was neither warranted nor constitutes the binding law of this circuit. Accordingly, we ignore the Silveira panel's unnecessary historical disquisition as the dicta that it is and consider ourselves bound only by the framework set forth in Hickman.
Another smackdown.

As in Emerson, there was a special concurrence in Nordyke, too:
I join the court’s opinion, and write to elaborate that Hickman v. Block, 81 F.3d 98 (9th Cir. 1996), was wrongly decided, that the remarks in Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. 2002), about the "collective rights" theory of the Second Amendment are not persuasive, and that we would be better advised to embrace an "individual rights" view of the Second Amendment, as was adopted by the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203, 260 (5th Cir. 2001), consistent with United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). We should recognize that individual citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, subject to reasonable restriction by the government. We should also revisit whether the requirements of the Second Amendment are incorporated into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Our panel is bound by Hickman, and we cannot reach the merits of Nordyke's challenge to Second Amendment. But the holding of Hickman can be discarded by our court en banc or can be rejected by the Supreme Court if it decides to visit the issue of what substantive rights are safeguarded by the Second Amendment.

I write to express disagreement with the "collective rights view" advanced in Hickman and Silveira because I conclude that an "individual rights view" of the Second Amendment is most consistent with the Second Amendment's language, structure, and purposes, as well as colonial experience and pre-adoption history.
And it goes on in that vein, heavily footnoted, for ten pages of the 22 page decision, concluding:
The right to "keep and bear arms" is a fundamental liberty upon which the safety of our Nation depends, and it requires for its efficacy that an individual right be recognized and honored.

I reach this conclusion despite a recognition that many may think that these ideas are outmoded, that there is no risk in modern times of our government becoming a tyranny, and that there is little threat that others would invade our shores or attack our heartland. However, the Second Amendment was designed by the Framers of our Constitution to safeguard our Nation not only in times of good government, such as we have enjoyed for generations, but also in the event, however unlikely, that our government or leaders would go bad. And it was designed to provide national security not only when our country is strong but also if it were to become weakened or otherwise subject to attack. As the people bear the risk of loss of their freedom and the pain of any attack, our Constitution provides that the people have a right to participate in defense of the Nation. The Second Amendment protects that fundamental right.
After the Supreme Court's D.C. v. Heller decision, Nordyke v. King was appealed again, and reheard. That decision was handed down today, and it was, as Judge Gould suggested in his special concurrence, decided on the Due Process clause. But before I get to that, I'd like to repeat some of my absolute favorite quotes from any court decision anywhere - the denial to re-hear Silveira v. Lockyer en banc (by the whole court, rather than a three-judge panel). First, Judge Alex Kozinski, it its entirety:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that "speech, or . . . the press" also means the Internet...and that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" also means public telephone booths.... When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we're none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

The able judges of the panel majority are usually very sympathetic to individual rights, but they have succumbed to the temptation to pick and choose. Had they brought the same generous approach to the Second Amendment that they routinely bring to the First, Fourth and selected portions of the Fifth, they would have had no trouble finding an individual right to bear arms. Indeed, to conclude otherwise, they had to ignore binding precedent. United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), did not hold that the defendants lacked standing to raise a Second Amendment defense, even though the government argued the collective rights theory in its brief. The Supreme Court reached the Second Amendment claim and rejected it on the merits after finding no evidence that Miller's weapon - a sawed-off shotgun - was reasonably susceptible to militia use. We are bound not only by the outcome of Miller but also by its rationale. If Miller's claim was dead on arrival because it was raised by a person rather than a state, why would the Court have bothered discussing whether a sawed-off shotgun was suitable for militia use? The panel majority not only ignores Miller's test; it renders most of the opinion wholly superfluous. As an inferior court, we may not tell the Supreme Court it was out to lunch when it last visited a constitutional provision.

The majority falls prey to the delusion - popular in some circles - that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth - born of experience - is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks' homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process. In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist. See Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to "keep and carry arms wherever they went"). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble.

All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin's atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel’s mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:

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.

The sheer ponderousness of the panel's opinion - the mountain of verbiage it must deploy to explain away these fourteen short words of constitutional text - refutes its thesis far more convincingly than anything I might say. The panel's labored effort to smother the Second Amendment by sheer body weight has all the grace of a sumo wrestler trying to kill a rattlesnake by sitting on it - and is just as likely to succeed.
And the dissent by Judge Andrew Jay Kleinfeld:
I respectfully dissent from our order denying rehearing en banc. In so doing, I am expressing agreement with my colleague Judge Gould’s special concurrence in Nordyke v. King, and with the Fifth Circuit's opinion in United States v. Emerson, both taking the position that the Second Amendment secures an individual, and not collective, right to keep and bear arms.

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."


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.
Today that weed got yanked.
We therefore conclude that the right to keep and bear arms is "deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition." Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature of the right. It has long been regarded as the "true palladium of liberty." Colonists relied on it to assert and to win their independence, and the victorious Union sought to prevent a recalcitrant South from abridging it less than a century later. The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental, that it is necessary to the Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty that we have inherited. We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments.
And this decision, another 3-0, gets yet another special concurrence, again by Judge Gould:
I concur in Judge O’Scannlain's opinion but write to elaborate my view of the policies underlying the selective incorporation decision. First, as Judge O’Scannlain has aptly explained, the rights secured by the Second Amendment are "deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition," and "necessary to the Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty." The salient policies underlying the protection of the right to bear arms are of inestimable importance. The right to bear arms is a bulwark against external invasion. We should not be overconfident that oceans on our east and west coasts alone can preserve security. We recently saw in the case of the terrorist attack on Mumbai that terrorists may enter a country covertly by ocean routes, landing in small craft and then assembling to wreak havoc. That we have a lawfully armed populace adds a measure of security for all of us and makes it less likely that a band of terrorists could make headway in an attack on any community before more professional forces arrived.1 Second, the right to bear arms is a protection against the possibility that even our own government could degenerate into tyranny, and though this may seem unlikely, this possibility should be guarded against with individual diligence. Third, while the Second Amendment thus stands as a protection against both external threat and internal tyranny, the recognition of the individual's right in the Second Amendment, and its incorporation by the Due Process Clause against the states, is not inconsistent with the reasonable regulation of weaponry. All weapons are not "arms" within the meaning of the Second Amendment, so, for example, no individual could sensibly argue that the Second Amendment gives them a right to have nuclear weapons or chemical weapons in their home for self-defense. Also, important governmental interests will justify reasonable regulation of rifles and handguns, and the problem for our courts will be to define, in the context of particular regulation by the states and municipalities, what is reasonable and permissible and what is unreasonable and offensive to the Second Amendment.
Which is what the 5th Circuit said:
Although, as we have held, the Second Amendment does protect individual rights, that does not mean that those rights may never be made subject to any limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country.
For the vast majority of us, that's all we want, though we understand the concept of the "slippery slope," having been on a toboggan ride for lo these last seventy years since the Miller decision.

I live in Arizona, one of the states in the 9th Circus. Today my right to arms finally got recognized after the Hickman decision planted that weed in our Constitutional garden.

I feel better. But I know that the price of liberty remains eternal vigilance. The fight ain't over, not by a long shot.

ETA: Reader Spearweasel begs for "a short summary." Impudent knave. However, go here and here.

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