Justice Scalia: Guns Can Be “Regulated”
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sent a chill through the spines of conservatives with a foreboding warning about the government’s power to “regulate” what he referred to as “menacing” hand-held weapons.
Scalia’s comments elicited a furor at the website National Journal, where many weighed in to register their disgust at the possibility of another “conservative” justice betrayal. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts appeared poised to strike down the individual mandate of the Obamacare legislation in late June 2012, but apparently sided with the liberal wing at the last moment.
[Whether or not government can ban high volume magazines and “assault” weapons] will have to be decided in future cases… But there were legal precedents from the days of the Founding Fathers that banned frightening weapons which a constitutional originalist like himself must recognize. There were also “locational limitations” on where weapons could be carried.
Several commenters at National Journal rightly rebutted Scalia’s opinion by pointing out the subjective nature of basing law on what liberals perceive as “frightening” or “menacing,” including hand-held weapons. There were other causes for concern with Justice Scalia’s comments.
Instead of basing his reasoning on inalienable individual rights, such as the rights to private property and self-defense, Scalia expounded on particular 18th century gun practices that preceded the ratification of The Constitution. From this exercise in historical exegesis, he leapt to the conclusion that the several states had the authority to “regulate” the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.
Scalia thus hedges the recent case record that the Second Amendment is incorporated and binding on the states, which was established in the 2010 Supreme Court case McDonald vs. Chicago that struck down local gun control laws. That followed upon the related gun control case District of Columbia vs. Heller, which also struck down gun regulations.
The record of the Roberts’ course had seemed to be strong on both gun control and free speech issues before the Obamacare case debacle. Roberts’ capricious minimalism (the tendency to yield to the legislature on Constitutional interpretation) and Scalia’s inconsistency in defending individual rights have many attentive citizens alarmed that gun “regulation” could go the deleterious way of Commerce “regulation.”
Whether or not one agrees with the Constitutional amendment stating that citizens have the right to bear arms, it is empirically rock-solid that citizens’ ability to lawfully carry concealed firearms leads to a 60 percent decrease in multiple-victim public shootings and a 78 percent decrease in victims per attack among the several states.
Nonetheless, the massacre at an Aurora, Colorado theater, a gun-free zone, has given rise to increasingly vocal calls for gun regulations by the Democrat Party. The party even had the audacity to try to slip assault weapons-related gun regulations into an upcoming “cybersecurity” bill, probably after recognizing that the U.S. would not become a party to the UN’s small arms treaty.
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