Since the current U.S. Supreme Court prides itself on being “originalist,” or faithful to the intent of the Constitution as it was written and understood by the Founding Fathers, I’d like to suggest going back to the origins of the Second Amendment.
“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,” is the original text, adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court visited the amendment three times — in 1876, 1886, and 1939 — each time ruling that the people had a right to bear arms, only within the militia.
So where did this so-called “individual” right to bear arms come from? It came from right-wing National Rifle Association public relations disguised as dubious scholarship and came to fruition with Justice Antonin Sciala, who authored 5-4 decisions in Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010). That has brought us fabulous profits for gun manufacturers, NRA clout with Republicans and blood-soaked school rooms, grocery stores, movie theaters and a level of carnage unknown outside of war zones and civil wars.
Individual rights to guns is anything but “well regulated” and certainly does not lend itself to “the security of a free state.” Murders, domestic violence, suicides and armed violence is simply bloody chaos.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger said that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
I would like to see individual states, and perhaps Congress, pass legislation that designates all gun owners as members of a state militia, junior to each state’s National Guard. Depending on the number and lethality of citizen-owned guns, one could have differing degrees of regulations overseen by the National Guard. A comprehensive inventory would be in order, as would safety inspections on gun storage, safety training, liability insurance and target shooting. A household with an old .22 in the closet would have a light-touch on regulation, while a household with dozens of arms — especially assault rifles — would have more exacting standards on safety and training.
The Second Amendment is not holy writ. The status quo is killing us.