The Second Amendment Acquires Meaning

I am extremely depressed right now.

As a first year law student, one of the basic things you learn in Constitutional Law is that the Second Amendment means virtually nothing these days. It is the same with the Third Amendment, actually. The Third states that soldiers cannot stay in your house without your consent. Were we to create a list of the ten most fundamental rights today, no one would even think to put this on the list. The second, similarly, deals with an antiquated militia system that no longer exists. State militias back in the day were composed of all able-bodied men and their personal firearms. The founders wanted to ensure this system continued – particularly that they couldn’t be disarmed by the nasty federal government. When it comes to Second Amendment challenges to gun control laws, virtually every court that has ever considered the issue has concluded that the Amendment has to do with militias. Since we don’t have militias anymore, the gun control laws stay in force.

Fast forward to today. Well, a week ago, in fact. DC v Heller is the first case in nearly 70 years where the Supreme Court has analyzed the meaning of the Amendment. It appears that 7 of 9 justices being Republican appointees has had some effect. The majority of the court seems to be favoring the conservative minority legal opinion – the NRA opinion – the gun kooks opinion – that individuals have a constitutional right to have guns that the government may not infringe (silly us, all concerned about children and safety).

Last week was just oral argument. The decision will not come until June, but this may very well be one of the worst (not to mention dangerous) opinions in the history of the court. Not since Dred Scott will so much blood be on the hands of members of the bench.

Odd side story. Yesterday I hosted a discussion among legal scholars on both sides of the issue. I ended up driving around one of the nation’s leading pro-gun advocates, who was a bit under the weather and not up to drive herself. Talk about awkwaaaaard.

Here is an article from the New England Journal of Medicine that demolishes any notion that guns have anything but a very negative affect on society.

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