To be a liberal, one must be continually willing to disregard basic realities. The left loves to pretend that illegal immigration is, somehow, an unsolvable problem, that voter ID laws are racist and that a man can choose to be a woman and that the onus us upon the rest of society to act accordingly.
Nowhere, however, is this basic denial of reality more prevalent than in the conversations surrounding the Second Amendment. For decades, the left posited that the Second Amendment was a provision to protect a collective ownership of firearms, not a provision to protect individual ownership.
That is, according to a purposefully-twisted reading of the Second Amendment, Americans held a right to possess a militia, not to own a handgun.
This notion was thoroughly debunked in 2008 as the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment was an individual right. Since that time, the left has largely backed-away from the always-ridiculous “collective ownership” argument.
But, notably, not all have accepted this always-apparent fact.
In a woefully politically-obsolete rant, Samantha Paige Rosen opined in The Huffington Post that those who argue against gun control laws should “stop hiding behind the Second Amendment” as the Second Amendment applies to militias, not individuals.
Yes… this again…
In her piece entitled “Stop Hiding Behind the Second Amendment,” Rosen contends,
The Second Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to own a firearm. This narrative was developed by the National Rifle Association in the late 1970s, out of fear that further gun control laws would eliminate private ownership of firearms altogether…
Initially, the National Rifle Association dealt more with sport than politics. “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns,” said Former NRA President Karl Frederick in 1934. “I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
In her offering of a history of the NRA, Rosen is correct. The NRA was not always so thoroughly dedicated to the protection of the Second Amendment. In truth, there wasn’t a particularly strong need for a Second Amendment organization dedicated to the protection of civil liberties. It is purely undeniable that the NRA has assumed a stronger advocacy role than in previous generations…
And thank God that they and other similar organizations were willing to heed the call to action…
Similarly, there is not (to my knowledge) an organization dedicated to keeping the federal government from quartering troops in our homes. The Third Amendment is largely overlooked because… well, it’s not really a problem right now. If Obama began quartering troops in our homes, I would not be surprised if home owner associations began speaking-up.
Not-coincidentally, the NRA became significantly more political when the federal and state governments began infringing upon our Second Amendment rights by imposing restrictions on interstate selling and especially as background checks became compulsory for licensed sellers.
After attempting to paint the NRA as recently-radicalized, Rosen offers the dissenting viewpoint of former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a far-left jurist who became far more radical as partisanship in America increased. Stevens served as a dissenting opinion in Heller and he maintained that the Second Amendment applied to individual firearm possession insofar as a militia would be comprised of regular citizens who would be armed and such firearm possession would be acceptable in the course of fulfilling duties within a military context as part of a militia.
Of course, Stevens’ (and Rosen’s) standard does not account for modern concepts of self-defense in the home. Further, if the point Rosen and Stevens intended to convey was that the Second Amendment is a protection of the right of the people to form militias as a counterbalance to tyrannical government, one must wonder who, if not the individuals comprising the new militia, would furnish the weapons? Surely the government would not furnish weapons off the back of a truck to better-aid the ragtag militia seeking to topple it, right?
In the early years of our nation, there was a noticeable difference between a militia and an army. An army had to be “raised” and endowed with funds and training. A militia, in contrast, was a pre-existing entity- a looser collaboration of patriotic able-bodied men with their own firearms who could go toe-to-toe with the army if the tyrannical government turned it loose upon the people.
If the Founders had meant for the Second Amendment to be a provision for an armed military, it would have detailed the need for an “army,” not a “militia.” They knew the difference.
In 1939, the Supreme Court dodged the Second Amendment and condemned Americans to another seven decades of arguments. In the case, United States v. Miller, they did, however, make it clear that even if the Second Amendment applied to the protection of a militia system, such a provision implicitly relied-upon an individual right to ownership to function. The decision read, (emphasis added)
The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. “A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.” And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.
If we are not endowed with a right to individual ownership, who furnishes the firearms for this militia that is supposed to serve as the protector of citizens from tyrannical government? According to the Founders and the Supreme Court, it was the individual.
Further, if such militias are expected to be equipped with arms “of the kind in common use at the time,” not only does that imply a right to individual ownership, but a right and duty to furnish useful weapons of a military nature.
Remember that the next time a liberal asserts that the Constitution does not protect ownership of an AR-15, the civilian version of the rifle carried by service members.
Rosen shares the words of Stevens and of former Chief Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger in order to try and assert that the Second Amendment is clearly a collective protection and not an individual right. By cherry-picking obscure utterances, Rosen weaves an irrelevant tale which she then uses to conclude that since the Second Amendment is not an individual right, modern infringements upon it via contemporary gun control laws are in keeping with the spirit of the Bill of Rights.
If the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to own a gun, we don’t need to repeal or amend it in order to establish major gun control laws. We must remember that this tale is the NRA’s doing, not the Founders of the Constitution, and that it is rooted in fear. This fear is why the NRA staunchly opposes even minor firearms regulations today. We can and should move forward in enacting exactly what the pro-gun lobby is afraid of. We can’t hide behind the Second Amendment anymore.
However, her approach is intellectually dishonest. By scraping the bottom of the jurist barrel to find positions that will validate her own, Rosen has neglected to approach the topic in any meaningful way. We must be willing to view the Second Amendment as a protection of rights compatible with justice and reason.
The Supreme Court is far from infallible. In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), the Taney Court denied the personhood of blacks. In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the court upheld the constitutionality of segregation predicated upon a doctrine of “separate but equal. In Buck v. Bell (1927), the Taft Court shamefully upheld forced sterilization of the mentally unfit “for the protection and health of the state.”
If I should find an abhorrent, racist legal justification to deny citizens rights under some flimsy legal pretense, should that prove the validity of that argument?
Or, should we look upon these backwards notions and wonder why it took so long for our nation to finally commit to a concept of freedom that should have been so readily-apparent from the start?
Rosen has it exactly backwards. The Supreme Court’s decision in Heller is not the betrayal of justice; it’s exactly the opposite. The truly disgusting tale of gun rights in America is that it took 200+ years for the Supreme Court to recognize what was always apparent and what was, is and what forever will be not just an American right, but a human right– the right to individual firearm ownership.
This issue should be long-ago settled; however, so long as we have obsolete notions such as Rosen’s coupled with a government that fears an armed populace, our most-important right remains endangered. Thankfully, those who hold a deeper understanding of the importance of liberty hold strong against slick rhetoric designed to separate citizens from their rights.
Let us never hide behind the Second Amendment but rather embrace it as the surest protection against tyranny.