Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Militia" in the second amendment

"Militia" in the Second Amendment

The fundamental argument of the anti-gun side in gun rights cases, and most recently the minority dissent in McDonald v. Chicago, is the language of the second amendment. "A well regulated militia being necessary..." is commonly misconstrued by statists as if a militia is supposedly some kind of a military operation organized and equipped by the State. Nothing could be further from the truth, if the gun right is considered in the context in which it was conceived. The idea was that, when necessity came, a militia could be formed in a moment, by calling people out of their homes, bearing the arms they had been keeping. The only way that could work would be if the citizens already had their arms in their possession, ready to deploy. Of course, lawyers and judges commonly use the language to confuse or obfuscate in order to reach their desired result. We understand their zeal to rewrite the constitution, since their highest goal is to rewrite that rule book, but there is no way the National Guard could suffice to provide the fundamental right of citizens to join an ad hoc militia when necessary, on demand or command.

And what can we do about actual amoral mendacity by judicial nominees? In Sonia Sotomayor's case, how can it be other than a lie under oath, swearing just a few months ago that she found an individual right to arms in the rule book, yet today she could no longer find it there. I guess that there is no way to hold these people to their oaths, but it certainly is unseemly that she could blatantly swear to whatever she thought her audience in the Senate Judiciary Committee wanted to hear, and then contradict herself a few months later. The other three dissenters could plausibly claim that their beliefs of what the constitution means had changed over the years, but Sonia has no such excuse. Neither will Elena Kagan.