Stuck On Permanently Mired In Stupid

That so much of our mainstream media is grossly uninformed about the Second Amendment debate is a challenge.

That so much of the mainstream media gets their information from people who are actively trying to disinform the public is an affront.

This article – a WaPo piece from Christopher Ingraham – is a little bit of both.

I’m not going to pullquote it – it’s really too stupid to want to do more than acknowledge.  But it makes a point that some would-be public intellectual always tries to make whenever there’s a debate about the Second Amendment; in this case, this is what “arms” looked like when the founding fathers wrote the Amendment:

A British “Brown Bess” musket. The AK-47 of its day, it equipped both the British and most of the Continental Armies during the Revolution.

Right – the flintlock rifle was bleeding edge technology back then.  The “Brown Bess” smoothbore musket was the AK47 of its day; simple, rugged, built in immense numbers, capable of smothering firepower by the standards of the day.

Of course, at that time, the First Amendment referred to pretty much the printing press,

They never envisioned photography, linotype, telegraph, radio, television and the internet!

Freedom from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures and a general right to Privacy? The founders never envisioned organized crime, transnational smuggling, terrorism and cell phone encryption!

Trial by Jury? The founders had no concept of “paying for daycare!”

When society starts conflating “rights” with “technology”, we are doomed as a free society.

Maybe we are anyway.



16 thoughts on “Stuck On Permanently Mired In Stupid

  1. From the article:
    In full, the amendment reads, rather murkily, “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 wording leaves plenty of room for legal and political wrangling over the meaning of words like “well regulated,” “militia,” “right,” “people,” “keep,” “bear” and “arms.”
    The National Rifle Association has explicitly embraced a message of Second Amendment “absolutism” in recent years. “Absolutes do exist,” NRA President Wayne LaPierre said after the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “We are as ‘absolutist’ as the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution. And we’re proud of it!”

    In the Heller vs. DC majority decision, Scalia wrote a very detailed explanation of the second amendment, and exactly how the majority read it. Ingraham has apparently not bothered to study the topic he writes about.

    Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment . We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997) , and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001) , the Second Amendment extends, prima facie,to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.
    . . .
    From our review of founding-era sources, we conclude that this natural meaning was also the meaning that “bear arms” had in the 18th century. In numerous instances, “bear arms” was unambiguously used to refer to the carrying of weapons outside of an organized militia. The most prominent examples are those most relevant to the Second Amendment : Nine state constitutional provisions written in the 18th century or the first two decades of the 19th, which enshrined a right of citizens to “bear arms in defense of themselves and the state” or “bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” 8 It is clear from those formulations that “bear arms” did not refer only to carrying a weapon in an organized military unit. Justice James Wilson interpreted the Pennsylvania Constitution’s arms-bearing right, for example, as a recognition of the natural right of defense “of one’s person or house”—what he called the law of “self preservation.” 2 Collected Works of James Wilson 1142, and n. x (K. Hall & M. Hall eds. 2007) (citing Pa. Const., Art. IX, §21 (1790)); see also T. Walker, Introduction to American Law 198 (1837) (“Thus the right of self-defence [is] guaranteed by the [Ohio] constitution”); see also id., at 157 (equating Second Amendment with that provision of the Ohio Constitution). That was also the interpretation of those state constitutional provisions adopted by pre-Civil War state courts.9 These provisions demonstrate—again, in the most analogous linguistic context—that “bear arms” was not limited to the carrying of arms in a militia.
    . . .
    In any event, the meaning of “bear arms” that petitioners and Justice Stevens propose is not even the (sometimes) idiomatic meaning. Rather, they manufacture a hybrid definition, whereby “bear arms” connotes the actual carrying of arms (and therefore is not really an idiom) but only in the service of an organized militia. No dictionary has ever adopted that definition, and we have been apprised of no source that indicates that it carried that meaning at the time of the founding.

    People who defend second amendment rights would do well to read Scalia’s opinion. It is a masterpiece of legal reasoning that dismantles the dissenting opinions piece by piece.

  2. It’s worth noting that not only was the musket not the height of firearms technology at the time, but the rifle of the Hessian or Kentucky variety. For that matter, private citizens also owned varieties of cannon–suffice it to say that in terms of lethality, rifles and cannon with 18th century medicine is a far nastier reality than semi-auto rifles with 21st century medicine. For that matter, what about our own Civil War, fought predominantly with muskets? That doesn’t seem to have prevented Antietam from flowing with blood.

  3. I think Hillary will probably win this fall. As you all know, she will nominate liberal fascists to federal courts. Remember the gay marriage ruling? Kennedy said the constitution mandate gay marriage because otherwise “gays will cry out in the night”.
    Imagine what kind of rulings a whole truckload of Wise Latinas will come up with.

  4. The shot that was heard round the world was fired to protect the private stores of powder and ball from confiscation by the government.

  5. This musket argument always comes from the usual crowd. Those who consider themselves ‘teh’ best & brightest; of the best schools (The Ivy’s of course – Thurston Howell III), who sit on “panels”, and intern with the most ‘Progressive’ non-profits and attended only the best graduate schools of public policy education (the Humphrey School or, better, the Kennedy School (at Harvard, of course – TH III, again)). Yet these people can’t govern because they are incompetent at anything other than talking to one another.
    “Wretchard” Fernandez at PJMedia has a thoughtful piece on how even with all the mass shootings of the Obama era (not blaming Obama for these), the people don’t want more gun control, what they want is government competence. Seeing no competence, they have decided to form their own militia’s, un-well-regulated as hell perhaps, but at least an opportunity to fight back when 911 is a joke (to quote Flava Flav).
    So yeah Mr. Musket Analogy, 2A was written at a time when the musket was the state of the art. Yet firearm technology has evolved like many other things of the founders time and after. Excluding your silly analogy, of course.

  6. I seem to recall the NRA magazine claiming a machine gun existed in Revolutionary times.

  7. “I seem to recall the NRA magazine claiming a machine gun existed in Revolutionary times.”
    PJ O’Rourke reported on a Gulf War I press conference when a sniveling Democrat Party Dominated Media Culture type (likely from NPR or the Guardian according to O’Rourke) asked General Norman Schwarzkopf about whether or not a piece of ground marked “minefield” was really worth all the intense scrutiny the allies gave to it. The General replied that the presence of even one mine in a minefield made the experience of traversing it “intense”.
    To me, every weapon is an assault weapon, whether it’s a two shot Derringer or the prime function of the A-10 Thunderbolt aka Warthog.

  8. Smarter people who were a lot less corrupt and better qualified sat on the SCOTUS bench for a couple of centuries before Heller was decided. That included Justices who themselves qualified as founding fathers, and who quite well knew and understood the intent of the 2A.

    And they consistently decided the 2A was about military arms, and specifically whether our national defense was local and state funded and staffed, or a national army.

    Scalia and the others who were pretty clearly taking compensation from those who benefited from their decisions — what might otherwise be normally called bribes — were in error, paid for error, ie. corrupt decisions.

    Those were bad decisions without any legitimate basis for deviating from stare decisis.

    But eventually the mistakes of the conservative activist judges will be corrected, and the ridiculous interpretation penned by Scalia will be in the dustbin of history where it deserves to be.

    And Mitch, when you make so many factual errors yourself, you don’t really have any legitimacy to criticize anyone else, much less someone from a multiple excellence in journalism award winning news operation. Awards like Pulitzers and Peabodys that you don’t have because you don’t do the fundamentals like multi-sourcing of fact-checking.

    Only readers who WANT to be lied to and propagandized with this kind of misinformation read you uncritically. It feeds their confirmation bias; they don’t want to be challenged or factually accurate. They want people to lie to them that what they believe is ok, or even correct.

    I suspect on some level they know better.

  9. DG

    this is Roger Tanney’s description of the liberties afforded to all citizens of the United States circa mid 19th century – it was not considered a controversial assessment and remember he was a staunch Democrat:

    It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

    its too bad you lack historical knowledge – it would shield you from writing the complete balderdas you just posted

  10. DG;

    You need serious professional help.

    If you have absolute, undeniable proof that “Scalia and others were pretty clearly taking compensation from those who benefitted from their decisions” (which you don’t; this is just another one of your drive by dumps of ignorance), then please present it. When we stop laughing at what would be the just the convoluted machinations of your pea brain, we could, as usual, make a mockery (again) of your rant.

  11. Dog Gone, you are mistaken about the law. There is only one US Supreme Court case that vaguely resembles what you wrote – US v. Miller – in which the Supremes said that American citizens had a Second Amendment right to own guns in common military use, but the trial record was insufficient to determine whether that included sawed-off shotguns. The case was remanded to the trial court for additional findings. Unfortunately, the Plaintiff died during the years of appeals or he’d have offered evidence that the Winchester Model 1987 saw service as a “trench gun” and included a bayonet lug. Using that court’s analysis, Americans today should have the right to own selective fire MP4s.

  12. I seem to recall the NRA magazine claiming a machine gun existed in Revolutionary times.

    They may have talked about Gatling gun which was invented and used in the Civil war (circa 1862). And when I am filthy rich, there will be an original one sitting in my parlor – it is a an absolute work of art. Ahh, to dream!

  13. Per DG’s idiocy, Akhil Reed Amar’s book about the 14th Amendment notes many cases where the 2nd was incorporated against the states–in most cases, the 2nd Amendment was the first thing to be treated so.

    But who expected DG to say something sane and true?

  14. There was a time when Dog Gone was at least useful as a piñata for the commenters here. Lately she’s a piñata filled with duck vomit. Mitch has been a lot more patient with you than you deserve, ma’am.

  15. Liberals argue that the Founders must have meant the Second Amendment to cover only single-shot muskets because that’s all that existed at the time. But by the time the Constitution was ratified in 1787, the Continental Congress had seen Joseph Belton’s semi-auto repeating flintlock and was negotiating the price. The fact the Founders knew of repeating rifles but did not except them from the Second Amendment lends credence to Scalia’s interpretation that it was meant give citizens the ability to resist tyranny using the same man-portable weapons of war that government troops have, which includes repeating rifles.

  16. JD for God’s sake! Stop with the facts already! Do you want Doggy’s head to explode, again?

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