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Second Amendment Questioned 1471

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the lock-and-load dept.
dheera writes "Attorneys in Washington, DC question the scope of the Second Amendment in the first case in nearly 70 years, citing that the right to bear arms only applies to 'a well regulated militia.' 'We interpret the Second Amendment in military terms,' said Todd Kim, the District's solicitor general."
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Second Amendment Questioned

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:37PM (#17175058)
    What the hell does the second amendment have to do with my rights ONLINE? I'm still allowed to shoot people in games over the internet, regardless of what the handgun rights are here in DC.
    • by creimer (824291) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:39PM (#17175072) Homepage
      If the government is going to tax people for their "virtual earnings", taking away their "virtual weapons" is the next step.
      • by Millenniumman (924859) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:45PM (#17176804)
        They don't tax virtual earnings. What has been indicated that they might tax are real earning in virtual environments (i.e. games).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by toleraen (831634)
      Remember that hunting outfit in [Texas?] that allowed you to hunt remotely?

      There, now I've tied in second ammendment rights to your rights online. You can thank me later. Now, continuing on with the discussion....
  • US DOJ says (Score:5, Informative)

    by RevDobbs (313888) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:38PM (#17175066) Homepage
    The United States Department of Justice says that the 2nd amendment is an individual right [usdoj.gov].
    • Re:US DOJ says (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aichpvee (631243) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:52PM (#17175250) Journal
      Pretty sure the Department of Justice is condoning torture and crimes against humanity now. Not exactly the most credible source of opinion on such things.
      • Re:US DOJ says (Score:4, Informative)

        by Spetiam (671180) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:06PM (#17175422) Journal
        Be that as it may, "the people" is never used in the bill of rights to refer to citizens collectively. The majority in Dred Scott knew this, which is why they said it was unthinkable that blacks could be citizens because then they could "keep and carry arms wherever they went." Interesting that a Jim Crow law is still so popular in DC...
        • Re:US DOJ says (Score:5, Informative)

          by supabeast! (84658) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:32PM (#17175812)
          Interesting that a Jim Crow law is still so popular in DC...


          That statement is flat out ignorant. The DC handgun ban was passed by the democratically elected government of the city at a time when the population was over 75% black. It was passed as an attempt to keep people from killing each other when DC was still one of the most violent cities in the nation and has nothing to do with Jim Crow.
        • Re:US DOJ says (Score:4, Insightful)

          by delong (125205) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:39PM (#17175906)
          Be that as it may, "the people" is never used in the bill of rights to refer to citizens collectively

          It isn't? The "people" in the Fourth Amendment has been construed by the US Supreme Court to mean the class lawfully and voluntarily in the US and part of the national community. US v. Verdugo-Urquidez. I have no idea who the Framers would be referring to as "the people" if not the citizens of the United States.
    • The United States Department of Justice says that the 2nd amendment is an individual right

      The United Stated Department of Justice also says that the Patriot Act is legal and a wonderful, necessary tool.

      The Department of Justice is part of the executive branch. It's not their job to "interpret" law or the constitution. It is their job to execute the law of the land. Did you flunk middle school and high school history/civics?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_powe r s_under_the_United_States_

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:59PM (#17176222)
        Christ. Half the problem with this country is American's basic inability to understand the simplest concepts of the US government.


        Yeah, and the other half is people like you who want to take away everyone else's *rights* because you're scared of what they might do with that right. As is usually the case, that fear is irrational. You have absolutely nothing to fear from 99.9999% of *legal* gun owners. Yet you're so afraid of what people who own guns *illegally* might do to you, you'd rather just ban guns altogether (as if that is a solution to the problem of people being able to obtain guns illegally), and you don't care if you destroy a Constitutional right in order to do it.

        It's funny how the anti-gun crowd pretends that they're just trying to interpret the Constitution, and only wish to apply it the way it was meant to be applied. In reality, if you *really* want to know how the 2nd Amendment was intended, you don't have to look very far. Read some of the writings of the people who actually *wrote* the damn thing, and it's obvious. They state explicitly that *individuals* need to be able to own guns. But of course you don't really care how it was intended. That's just a show you put on so that people will think your argument is based on the Constitution, rather than trying to destroy the Constitution.

        In reality, you don't give a rat's ass about the Constitution as a whole. You just want to cherry-pick the parts *you* think are important and discard the rest. And you're sick of hearing everyone heap praise and reverence on the "Founding Fathers" because you think you're smarter than they are, and besides times have changed, etc, etc. It's people like YOU that this country needs to guard against, because in your supreme arrogance, you're willing to destroy the very foundation of our freedom. (not that thousands of people just like you haven't already done so to a large degree. sigh.)
        • by Almost-Retired (637760) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:04PM (#17177552)
          Mod the parent up, this person gets it. Having studied on the "Founding Fathers" off and on for the last 65+ years, I am absolutely amazed at the miss-interpretation that has been given force of law over the last 100 years, rendering our original Republic an ever more tyranical place to live. Boggles the mind. Only when one recalls Ben's reply about a "Democracy being a very bad form of government, but all the others are so much worse" does it come into a clearer focus. Unforch, the space between is being narrowed inexorably. By lowering democracy toward the "so much worse" category. At some point, the last box (ammo) Ed Howdershelt wrote about in his famous saying about the boxes (soap, ballot, jury, & ammo)to defend liberty, will be opened and used. I believe it was Jefferson who said relative to the tree of liberty needing refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants from time to time, adding "Lord help us if we go 20 years without it". Its been about 40 now since the race riots were a pandemic. Read into that what you will, I'm too old & tired to argue with anyone who hasn't read his history.

          --
          Cheers, Gene
      • by Entropy (6967) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:29PM (#17176596)
        It's not their job to "interpret" law or the constitution. It is their job to execute the law of the land. Did you flunk middle school and high school history/civics?


        The President takes an Oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution.

        You say that it is not the executive branch's job to interpret the Constitution.

        But would you rather have someone protecting the Constitution who THINKS about what they are doing, or someone being an automaton?

        Because if THEY don't interpret it, how are they to protect it? Follow someone else's interpretation?

        Now - please show me in the Constitution itself (the supreme law of the US) where exactly it says the Supreme court has sole authority to interpret the Constitution?

        Guess what. You won't find it. They assumed that authority for themselves in Marbury.

        PS: Anyone reading the above as a defense of the current POTUS or his administration quite plainly isn't reading the same things I wrote ..
    • Re:US DOJ says (Score:5, Informative)

      by troll -1 (956834) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:32PM (#17175808)
      The United States Department of Justice says that the 2nd amendment is an individual right.

      That's interesting because it's apparently wrong. Morton Grove [wikipedia.org], Illinois banned hand guns in 1981 and the ban withstood a constitutional challenge in the case of Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove.
  • by drewzhrodague (606182) <drew.zhrodague@net> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:40PM (#17175086) Homepage Journal
    Hi. Like the man said, 'from my cold dead hands.' Guns aren't just for the military, cops, and gang-bangers -- we have 'em to make sure that our government doesn't herd us into cattle-cars, and send us off to the thermal depolymerizor en masse. We've already got Extrordinary Rendition, what's after that?

    I have '666' in my NRA membership number.
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:44PM (#17175152) Homepage
      Right, because your grand-daddy's rifle is really going to help against tanks and automatic weaponry. And most people can buy a gas mask, but not many do, which means that anyone wanting to subdue you non-violently just has to use some simple tear gas. The times when a group of civilians could contend with an equally numerous group of soldiers are long gone.
      • by kryten_nl (863119) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:47PM (#17175182)
        You haven't seen the news in the last couple of years, have you? (Iraq, Afghanistan)
        • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:55PM (#17175292) Homepage
          The resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan has access to automatic weaponry and rocketry. American civilians don't, and many advocates for the Second Amendment don't try to claim that anyone has a right to arms so powerful.
          • by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge@@@gmail...com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:08PM (#17175448) Journal

            There's nothing magical or extraordinarily high tech about automatic weapons and rockets. If it really came down to a full on Civil War in the USA, I'm sure a few facilities could ramp up to produce the things under the radar. There are drug labs all over the place now, and look how efficient we've been at taking care of those.

            Of course, all that may be unnecessarily complicated. There are plenty of international weapons manufacturers that would love to sell to the American public, and getting those products across the largely unprotected/unwatched US borders would probably be trivial.

            In short, if it gets that bad, the weapons will show.

          • by chill (34294) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:09PM (#17175480) Journal
            You're forgetting the effectiveness of IEDs. Also, most of the rockets fired into Israel from Lebanon and the PT are "home made".

            I don't know about you, but my High School Chemistry class had an entire segment on what household chemicals could be used to create very nasty poisons and explosives. Most of it was geared towards "don't EVER mix these two chemicals", but was followed up with "because if you mix 2 parts this, with 1 part that, stir, drain, separate and then let sit, you'll have a nice plastique".

            Fully-automatic weapons are over rated and usually very inaccurate. SEMI automatic can be very useful, though.
      • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:53PM (#17175268) Homepage Journal
        The times when a group of civilians could contend with an equally numerous group of soldiers are long gone.

        Absolutely. But combat-capable civilians outnumber soldiers and police in our country by at least fifty to one. That tends to even the odds a bit.

        To quote (from memory) a German commander on the Easter front during WWII: "Each of our tanks could beat five of theirs. We kept meeting six."
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Blkdeath (530393)
          To quote (from memory) a German commander on the Easter front during WWII: "Each of our tanks could beat five of theirs. We kept meeting six."

          How many tanks do you and your neighbors own?

          • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:04PM (#17175398)
            How many tanks do you and your neighbors own?

            The US Army does not have enough tanks to cover the contry. If it actually came down to it, you would not have a tank in your neighborhood, but your friendly local cop at your door. And him I can defend against.
          • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:11PM (#17175492) Journal
            Infantry can take out tanks with a rifle. Not an ordinary rifle, mind, but a rifle small enough to reasonably include in thousands of personal armories. (esp. in a population in which there are almost as many guns as there are people.) Further, owing to their reduced mobility, tanks are vulnerable to even less sophisticated weapons wielded in sufficient supply.

            A foot is a good weapon to take on ants, but you must be careful not to anger too many of them or your foot will be useless.
          • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:59PM (#17176948) Homepage Journal

            To quote (from memory) a German commander on the Easter front during WWII: "Each of our tanks could beat five of theirs. We kept meeting six."

            How many tanks do you and your neighbors own?

            Doesn't matter, for multiple reasons:

            1. Tanks are ineffective anti-insurgency weapons. Notice that they were used in the Iraqi invasion, but these days they don't do much other than sit on street corners and look imposing.
            2. Unless they're moving fast and hard, tanks are easy prey for infantry. That's a rather surprising statement to most people who don't know anything about military history and tactics, but ask someone who does. That's why standard tank warfare doctrine accompanies the tanks with screening infantry, because otherwise enemy infantry will destroy the tanks.
            3. The US military has nowhere near enough tanks to deploy them effectively against a large-scale uprising in an area as large and heavily populated as the continental US, even ignoring the questions of what they'd do with them and how they'd protect them.

            Tanks are good for three things: (1) fighting other tanks, (2) smashing through enemy lines to create breaches that can be exploited by infantry and (3) looking scary to unorganized mobs.

            Similarly, much of the rest of the US military's advanced technology, particularly aircraft, isn't useful in scenarios where the enemy is mixed in with non-combatants or is just plain hard to find. Consider the fighting in Iraq, and the trouble the US military has with those insurgents, in spite of the fact that the opposition forces there are truly tiny.

            Finally, I'll just note that whenever this topic comes up, and a bunch of slashdotters declaim the worthlessness of early 20th-century small arms against modern military forces, I have never, ever found anyone among them that claims any military or even police experience. Find me an Air Force pilot, or an Army tanker, or a Marine attack helicopter pilot who argues that hunting rifles, handguns and IEDs couldn't be used to mount an effective insurgency because their hi-tech weapons are just too powerful. Seriously, ask some people who know something about war what they think, and you'll get a very different point of view.

            • by Wintermancer (134128) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @04:45PM (#17177942)

              Precisely. Many geeks with an opinion, few geeks with military experience. Here's one that's been in both camps (Army and Pocket Protector camps, respectively) My $0.25, before taxes:

              Re: High-tech advantages removing the usefulness of rifles.

              Tanks are nasty on the battlefield. They are great death dealers at a distance. They are less so in urban environments (MOUT - Military Operations Urban Terrain). Why? Well, buildings are a great place to rain down anti-armor weapons upon the thankless tankers below. Fscking lovely....

              Hence, the need for screening infanty, and infantry is susceptable to rifle fire (slightly mitigated by improvements in modern body armour). That and armor crews sight lines are reduced due to buildings, being bottled up and hatches down cuts down on your visibility, etcetera.

              Helo flyboys are gas hungry pigs with insane downtime to perform maintenance, and the same applies to the jet jockeys. Performing a full-scale civil war? Take them out on the airstrip during downtime. That will help to degrade air advantage.

              Ok. So, you cordon off the cities with tanks and dig out the insurgents using infantry. I heard an Iraqi recently comment on this strategy, something to the effect of: "You like apples? How do you like them apples?". Yeah, it's a smashing good time routing out people in urban environments, really. Helos and jets are good only to drop munitions and bugger off, so their value there is limited.

              The current MBT employed by the US is a fuel hungry monster, and oddly enough, the fastest and easiest way to reduce tanks battlefield advantages is to attack the logistical support lines. Last time I checked, fuel tanker trucks ain't heavily armoured....

              If you can't run the tank, you are now seriously exposed to your friend, the infantry/partisan/terrorist/freedom-fighter. High-tech advantage? It's gone buy-bye. And the same logistical weakness faced by tanks is just as bad for the flyboys. So, you're down to fighting man-to-man, the old fashioned way. Rifles, mortars, arty...all the fun stuff.

              So, even if the US split right down the middle in the event of Civil War, there are more legs than there are high-tech toys. Take Iraq and multiply the insurgents by a factor of 100, and imagine how well "counter-insurgency" operations would go. It wouldn't be pretty.

              So, yes, armor, helicopters, and what-not are great, but remember only one thing: Infantry holds the ground. Everyone else, they're there to support them.

              And all infantry needs to be effective, is a rifle. And, oh yeah, the people you'll be fighting will look like you, sound like you and have the same cultural background as you. Have fun determining which side they are on....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by OakDragon (885217)
        I'm always amused that the implied argument here (or inferred, I guess) is that the 2nd Amendment does not go far enough; the right to own missiles and bazookas shall not be infringed!
      • Red Dawn (Score:3, Funny)

        by chia_monkey (593501)
        Right, because your grand-daddy's rifle is really going to help against tanks and automatic weaponry.

        You obviously haven't seen "Red Dawn". Wolverriiiiine!!!!
      • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:16PM (#17175578)
        The US military is the best in the world, but put them in a country where AK-47s, RPGs, and plastique are easy to obtain and that country can effectively harrass them until they leave. Not that I'm advocating widespread RPG ownership in our country, but it would certainly make those Canadians think twice before invading us.
  • by cprael (215426) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:41PM (#17175102)
    Even accepting their argument that the 2nd amendment applies only to militias, federal law is pretty black-letter on the matter: the unorganized militia is clearly defined in federal law, and includes pretty much the entire populace.

    That being said, the 2nd amendment is the _only_ place in the Bill of Rights where "the people" are defined as a collective body, rather than individuals. And even then, only in the 9th Circuit's realm.
  • by kryten_nl (863119) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:41PM (#17175106)
    ... do you guys (/girls) have the right to walk around town with a japanese sword hanging on your belt?
  • by xtal (49134) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:44PM (#17175148)
    I'm assuming then, the NRA meets that definition nicely. :)
  • Excellent! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:46PM (#17175168) Homepage Journal

    This is a great subject for debate on Slashdot. I look forward to getting this issue settled, once and for all!

  • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@NOspam.gdargaud.net> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:47PM (#17175184) Homepage
    They should have wondered about this a long time ago, before there were weapons all over the country, no ? And BTW, for those who think that the ammendments are untouchables, here are the answers to the question: "Do the US constitution amendments still matter?":
    1. Sort of
    2. Sort of
    3. Yes
    4. Nope
    5. Nope
    6. Sorry, no
    7. Not sure
    8. No
    9. Not sure
    10. Technically yes.
  • by Spetiam (671180) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:48PM (#17175198) Journal
    i think there's little argument that the 2nd amendment was articulated to guarantee the ability of a free people to defend themselves against and even overthrow an unjust aggressor or ruling entity.

    Which is fine...except that if the ruling entity--or those on its payroll--is the only one with weapons of war, then the 2nd amendment doesn't mean diddly to the commoners. Why do we have the "bill of rights," anyhow? It certainly isn't there to protect the rights of the rulers over their subjects. The 2nd amendment is meaningless unless it guarantees the right of private citizens to "keep and carry arms wherever they [go]" (quoth the majority in Dred Scott, horrified that blacks would be able to "keep and carry arms wherever they went" if they were recognized as citizens).
  • by Quila (201335) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:49PM (#17175208)
    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 2nd Amendment states a right (keep and bear arms) that cannot be infringed. That's it -- no infringement, period. The introductory phrase states a reason for stating this right, but "shall not be infringed" is an absolute. Note it doesn't grant the right; it considers that right, along with "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" and others to be inherent, above government powers, and says the government will not infringe on them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jay2003 (668095)
      So government can not stop you from owning nuclear weapon? A nuclear device is an arm and if you have an absolute right to bear arms, you have a right to nuclear weapons. Not mention tanks, F16s, etc. I feel safer already.

      Of course if we combine your view of an absolute right with originalist interpretation of the Constitution you only have a right to a musket but not a modern rifle. I don't see how an expansive (to modern weapons) absolute interpretation could not include nukes.

      The reason your argument
      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:34PM (#17176660)
        So government can not stop you from owning nuclear weapon?

        Now you're catching on!

        Of course if we combine your view of an absolute right with originalist interpretation of the Constitution you only have a right to a musket but not a modern rifle.

        Where in the Second Amendment does it make any mention whatsoever of limitations about the type of arms? Answer: it doesn't. Therefore, any form of armament was allowed then, and any form of armament is allowed now.

  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:50PM (#17175220) Homepage
    Jerry Pournelle mentioned in a panel debate at Baycon 2006 that the colonial government provided guns and ammo to the citizens (whether they wanted it or not) in case self-defense against a common enemy was needed and that was the original definition of "a well regulated militia". If so, maybe the government today should require every 18-year-old to serve two years in the military and let them keep their gun after their service. You kill three birds with one bullet: everyone in time will have the proper training for using their gun (which should reduce accidents), be armed for self-defense (which should reduce crime) and the whole stupid 2nd Amendment will be gone. Just an idea.
  • Personal safety (Score:5, Informative)

    by MSG (12810) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:50PM (#17175222)
    That is bullshit, and I'll tell you why. The courts have established that "Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals" [firearmsandliberty.com].

    Just reading about the case history behind this makes me spitting mad. It takes a stong constitution to even read that entire compilation.

    Everyone has the right to defend their safety. In my eyes, everyone has the responsibility to defend their safety.
  • well regulated (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gorehog (534288) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @12:50PM (#17175226)

    In the phrase "A well regulated militia" regulated = equipped.

    The idea was that in the event of tyranny or invasion the people could form up and defend themselves. We are guaranteed the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. To pursue life one must be able to defend it. That is why we are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms.

    By now I would have expected the noise about gun control to die down. It's a losing issue for democrats, and gun ownership may well be the only thing that recently stopped the USA from falling into fascist totalitarianism.

  • Well duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:04PM (#17175404)
    The amendment means exactly what it says, who'd a thunk it?
  • My proposal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jay2003 (668095) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:08PM (#17175444)
    Each state (and Washington DC) should able to interpret "well regulated militia" itself. A well regulated militia in Texas might be any private citizen wanting own a firearm. In New York, a well regulated militia might be the national guard only with no private ownership of firearms. If you want to want to own guns, you would have to live in a gun friendly state.

    I think solves the underlying problem nicely. Firearms are a problem in major urban centers but not a big problem in rural states. Each state crafts its own rules. There will be states with tight rules and loose ones.
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:08PM (#17175460) Homepage Journal
    Throughout the Constitution, the wording is very specific. When referring to individual rights, the term "The People" is used. When referring to state rights, the term "The States" is used. Unless you believe the 2nd Amendment is the ONLY EXCEPTION to this rule, it is most definitely an individual right as it says "... the right of The People ..."

    If the meaning of "The People" is changed to indicate a state right, ALL our rights will be lost. Suddenly, speech, religion, assembly, redress, etc, will be State rights and everything that makes this country worthwhile will go into the shitter.

    If the government can abuse a law, eventually the government will abuse a law. Maybe not right away, but a few years down the road it will happen. A good example of this is the seizing of property without due process. At first they were seizing property of convicted drug dealers. Then they started seizing the property of unconvicted drug dealers. After getting away with this obvious violation of the Constitution, they started seizing property of people with the thinnest thread of a connection to drugs, e.g. a guy had his car seized because his passenger had a joint in his possession.
  • Context (Score:5, Informative)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:13PM (#17175512) Homepage Journal
    This is from the answers page to my kooky political quiz [hutnick.com]:

    The first Congress passed the Militia Act of 1792, which said, in part:

    [. . .]That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia[. . .]


    So you see, militia was only meant to restrict who possessed firearms on a basis of race and sex, not based on military service.

    -Peter
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:15PM (#17175568) Homepage
    "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."

    I've noticed there has been a trend to re-structure the sentence of the 2nd Ammendment and interpret it on the basis of a "well regulated militia" and then equate this to the National Guard and thus declare the 2nd Ammendment fullfilled.

    This is incorrect, and is not what is said above. There are two aspects to the above statement.
    1) that a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free stae
    2) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed

    What we have is a stacking of concepts. A militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Militias draw from the people, both arms and manpower. Therefore, it is necessary for the people to retain the right to bear arms or there is no means to call up a militia.

    If you remove the right to bear arms from U.S. citizens then you have no means to call up and organize a militia. You will have a bunch of unarmed men unable to defend their country. This is well understood within the context of the Constitution being written. A simple test can be done to express such.

    Apply both interpretations, which one would fit and fulfill the needs of the time. If we apply the traditional interpretation everything fits. However, if we apply the re-interpretation you find yourself in a place in which the American Revolution would never have existed. Let' remove all guns from ownership by the colonials. The only guns are now owned and in the hands of the British Army and the regulated militias under the British. The colonials now are completely unarmed facing both the regulars of the British Army and the militias under the British.

    Clearly there is no way that this was the intention of the authors of the Constitution. And if the courts ever decided to re-interpret such ammendments it is the right of every arms bearing American and the duty of every U.S. soldier (if you've ever served you swore an oath to protect this country from powers both foreign and domestic) to kill those judges and remove that segment of government from power.

    The 2nd ammendment is our assurety against tyranny. It is the last and final line in our "checks and balances" within the government.

    - Saj
  • by malaxi (964736) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:30PM (#17175778)
    I wrote a thing up for my book club a year or two ago when we started talking about gun control and how dangerous "just having guns around" is, so I looked into it. I know this is long, but maybe some of you will find the numbers different than your intuition tells you. (Disclaimer: I am pro-gun).

    These numbers are all from the CDC.

    http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_sy.h tml [cdc.gov]

    My queries are for the years 1999-2002 (all they have), the entire U.S., all races, both sexes, all ages. (four year totals)

    Unintentional death by falling : 57,760
    Unintentional Pedestrian deaths: 24,079
    Unintentional Drowning : 13,739
    Unintentional death by burning : 13,642
    Unintentional Firearms deaths : 3,164
    Unintentional Bicyclist deaths : 3,099

    You can also break it down by age range. If we're worried about the teen years, we can look at ages 12-18. (four year totals)

    Unintentional Pedestrian deaths: 1,561
    Unintentional Drowning : 1,495
    Unintentional Firearms deaths : 494
    Unintentional Bicyclist deaths : 453
    Unintentional death by burning : 423
    Unintentional death by falling : 306

    Younger still, ages 1-11: (four year totals)

    Unintentional Pedestrian deaths: 2,118
    Unintentional Drowning : 2,870
    Unintentional death by burning : 1,920
    Unintentional Bicyclist deaths : 371
    Unintentional death by falling : 292
    Unintentional Firearms deaths : 164

    Accident-wise, young kids have a lot more to worry about than guns. And teenagers are almost as likely to die on their bicycles. God forbid they're bicycling to the swimming pool... or even worse, *walking* to the swimming pool ... but yes, there are gun accidents.

    Non-accidental deaths:

    It's interesting to note that more than half of violent deaths attributed to firearms are suicide. Whenever you read an article in the media that mentions the number of gun deaths it's a good bet that they're including suicides.

    • Violent deaths by firearm: 113,160 (includes suicides)
    • Suicide by firearm: 67,162

    Now I, personally, don't mind if people kill themselves. More power to them. I do agree that that there is a lower barrier to entry when using a gun and understand that depressed people might not be the best people to own guns, but gun control isn't really the solution to depression.

    So, anyway, taking out suicides leaves us with:

    • "legal intervention": 1,192 (cops killing criminals?)
    • Homicide by firearm: 44,806 (11.2K per year)

    As compared to

    • Non-firearm homicides: 26,794 (6.7K per year)

    So, more people are definitely intentionally killed by guns than by any other single cause, roughly 11K people per year.

    But...

    How many times are guns used defensively? Since defensive gun use isn't something that is reported (like an offensive gun use is), numbers are harder to find. Here is the page I have bookmarked with the only numbers I've ever seen. (refers to Gary Kleck's survey and a DOJ-sponsored study, and has a table of the results of 13 other surveys). (Gary Kleck is a criminologist at FSU - and, no, he's not an NRA member. http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/p/faculty-gary-klec k.php [fsu.edu])

    Summary: Kleck thinks defensive gun use happens 2.5M times per year, other surveys listed range between 770K and 3.6M. The DOJ study thinks it's 1.5M times per year.

    Let's aim low and go with 1M defensive uses per year. The question posed at the book club was "when does the ratio become w

  • Retards on the Hill (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lifebouy (115193) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:37PM (#17175894) Journal
    Ok, it very clearly reads, "the rights of the people," not, "the rights of the militia."

    But lets pretend, just for a second.

    If what they claim is true, then by definition:
    militia 1. a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency b : a body of citizens organized for military service
    2 : the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
    See the problem? Every male above the age of 18 is registered with Selective Service and is therefore a member of the militia of the U.S., by whichever definition you wish to use for the word.

    So in effect, even if what they were claiming were true, which it's clearly not, then they are simply arguing that women cannot own guns! That's the only people who their claim would effect.

    Actually, that's not true. If their claim were true, then it would be unconstitutional to prohibit convicts from owning a firearm, because they are still part of the Selective Service regardless of their legal status, and "the right...shall not be infringed." Honestly, that means it's unconstitutional for the courts to restrict their right to bear arms, even with the correct interpretation of the amendment. Strictly reading the letter of the Constitution, you can take away their right to breathe, before you can forbid them from carrying a firearm, even while they are encarcerated. But even bending it a little, as soon as they are released, they, by Constitutional right, should be permitted^H^H^Hhave the unrevokable right to purchase a gun from the closest pawnshop, should they wish. And, in fact, for just that reason, they are able to "restore" their right after any parole time they might still be serving.

  • by melted (227442) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @01:45PM (#17175996) Homepage
    If they disallow gun ownership I'll move to the country where it's allowed. You see, lack of gun ownership is very convenient if you want to build a police state. You can ram through unruly crowds on a tank, completely invincible. If, on the other hand, people have guns - persons of power will feel a lot less comfortable after committing large scale atrocities against their own people. This applies both locally and on a federal level. Just because there can be a dude with a sniper rifle sitting on the roof.

    As far as I'm concerned, guns are the only remaining guarantee of democratic rights that citizens of this country still have. Guns are a great equalizer of power between those in power and those without.
  • Guns guns guns (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PenGun (794213) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @02:13PM (#17176374) Homepage
    I guess if you live where everybody is crazy and armed you would need a gun. I give thanks I do not live in such a place.

        PenGun
      The Peace Arch ... That's where South America starts
  • by dircha (893383) on Saturday December 09, 2006 @05:43PM (#17178504)
    1. If the U.S. founders and revolutionary army had put their fate in the hands of protest songs and peaceful sit-ins rather than armed rebellion, we might very well today still be paying our taxes to the U.K.
    2. Iraq is a vivid demonstration of the effectiveness of armed citizen resistance. The Iraqi people are better armed than us.

    I strongly support liberal social programs, but when it comes to certain essential personal freedoms I find they are hypocritical cowards.

    Western liberals have developed a false sense of security through years of living under impotent administrations permitting open dissent and demonstration. They take this for granted, believing their disssent and peaceful demonstration have secured their rights.

    In reality, we are always one election cycle away from tyranny.

    Bush is no tyrant (*shock*, but hey, this is Slashdot). In fact he's downright moderate compared to some past wartime administrations. But if you doubt the difference a single election cycle can make, look no further than the 2000 elections. Had a statewide recount been conducted in Florida - had all the votes been counted - the world today would be a very different place.

    Think long and hard before you give up the guaranteer of your liberty. Once you have, it is too late.
  • by surfcow (169572) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:02AM (#17182228) Homepage
    The US constitution was a best-effort. It was not written by god on a tablet. It's authors said it was deeply flawed and they hoped it would last 20 years. It needs an over-haul.

    Because smart people can't agree on even the most basic intentions of the constitution's authors. Do people have a right to arms or not? What kinds of arms? It there a right to privacy or not? Even from the government? It is NOT CLEAR. And it won't EVER get any clearer.

    Some people say that is the beauty of the document, it's flexibility and ability to be reinterpreted.

    I say bullshit. I don't want to hear about *implied* rights. Spell it out clearly, in contemporary english, with no spin. We don't live in the dark ages, we can examine the ideas of the past and use what is useful.

    I think we need to update the language of the constitution. Maybe we need a constitutional convention every 10 or 20 years as Jefferson suggested, to carefully clarify the language. Baby steps.

    And do we want to add new rights? Should there be a right to euthanasia, a basic job, basic health care, an abortion, basic shelter, a basic education, porn? How about freedom FROM religion? We seem to *effectively* have some of these rights, but not literally. Why not?

    Would someone please get Richard Stallman on this? And Linus Tovalds?

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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