- Jul 14, 2011
- Reaction score
- Native America
By Peter Weber
That's the opinion of Rupert Murdoch's conservative New York Post. And it's not as far-fetched as it may seem.
Well, let's read the text of the Second Amendment, says Jeffrey Sachs at The Huffington Post:
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.
It's astonishingly clear that "the Second Amendment is a relic of the founding era more than two centuries ago," and "its purpose is long past."
As Justice John Paul Stevens argues persuasively, the amendment should not block the ability of society to keep itself safe through gun control legislation. That was never its intent. This amendment was about militias in the 1790s, and the fear of the anti-federalists of a federal army. Since that issue is long moot, we need not be governed in our national life by doctrines on now-extinct militias from the 18th century.
"Fair-minded readers have to acknowledge that the text is ambiguous," says Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View. Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in Heller, was laying out his interpretation of a "genuinely difficult" legal question, and "I am not saying that the court was wrong." More to the point: Right or wrong, obsolete or relevant, the Second Amendment essentially means what five justices on the Supreme Court say it means. So "we should respect the fact that the individual right to have guns has been established," but even the pro-gun interpretation laid out by Scalia explicitly allows for banning the kinds of weapons the shooter used to murder 20 first-graders. The real problem is in the political arena, where "opponents of gun control, armed with both organization and money, have been invoking the Second Amendment far more recklessly," using "wild and unsupportable claims about the meaning of the Constitution" to shut down debate on what sort of regulations might save lives.
More: Is the Second Amendment obsolete? - The Week