You don’t want to own guns. That’s okay. You have the right to not own guns regardless of what I think.
I want to own guns. That’s okay, too. I have the right to own guns regardless of what you think.
Jack Wilson’s actions at the church in White Settlement are nothing like George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin. Wilson was a hero; Zimmerman should have gone to prison. I am very familiar with Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground Law and Zimmerman clearly did not qualify for its protection. Zimmerman provoked the confrontation, making him the aggressor. The Florida law is actually quite easy to read and understand; I have never understood how anyone could misunderstand it.
Stand your ground laws are nothing more than being able to defend yourself from a violent attack without first having to exhaust all possible avenues of escape. Somebody punches you without provocation; you can punch them back. In every stand your ground law of which I am aware, the same rules of self-defense apply: you can only use lethal force if you are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. You can only use as much force is necessary to end the attack.
There are 18.9 million active concealed carry permits in the United States as of the end of 2019. There are 16 states that allow their residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and another 15 that allow open carry without a permit.
The Texas Department of Public Safety monitors those who have a License to Carry. Year, after year, the DPS reports that those with a LTC not only get in less trouble than the average citizen, they get in trouble less often than the average cop.
Texas has allowed those college students and instructors with licenses to carry their firearms not only onto campus, but into class. None of the dire predictions have come true. There have been no reports of accidental discharges and I feel fairly confident there have not been any because they would surely have made the news.
Look at the chart below. The states with gold borders are those 16 states. The numbers in each state are the number of mass shootings reported by the Gun Violence Archive over the past five years. Some of those states have the highest estimated percentages of households with guns in America.
There really is no basis for considering the Second Amendment to protect anything other than an individual right, regardless of what the late John Paul Stevens believed. Even his use of the McReynolds opinion in United States v. Miller was flawed and his reference to post-retirement remarks by Justice Warren Burger, which first appeared in a Sunday supplement magazine, is laughable.
Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Cruikshank. In writing about the the right to keep and bear arms, he said: “This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.”
There is no evidence in any of the surviving contemporary records that would indicate those who were involved in the creation and ratification of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights believed that citizens didn’t have the right to own weapons for hunting or personal defense as well as communal defense. Militia traditions dating back to the reign of Alfred the Great in 9th Century England said the such bodies were to be composed of citizens armed with their own weapons. In fact, King Henry made it a law in 1181 that all able-bodied men were to own certain weapons, based on their wealth and social standing. Even serfs were required to own a spear and dagger.
It was no different in colonial America. Militias were comprised of citizens with personally owned and maintained weapons, including things like armor and halberds, muskets or rifles with bayonets, and swords. Colonists were free to own as many weapons as their pocketbook could afford, including things like cannons.
By the time representatives met to hammer out the Constitution, they were already aware of advances in weapon technology like the Ferguson breech-loading rifle and the Girandoni repeating rifle. Thomas Jefferson later bought a pair of Girandoni rifles for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
They were also cognizant of history and how English monarchs would periodically disarm the citizens in favor of armies or restrict the possession of weapons to those in the monarch’s favor.
So those charged with crafting the Bill of Rights decided that since militias were preferable to standing armies, especially in peacetime, they would add a blanket prohibition on the federal government infringing on the peoples’ right to be armed.
In their view, it was impossible to have a militia without a pool of armed citizens from whom a militia could be assembled. They understood that a militia needed to be well-regulated, that is trained in the use of arms and discipline, so James Madison added the Militia Clause as a reason that the new federal government was not allowed to disarm American citizens.
In either English grammar or law, the Militia Clause is a dependent or prefatory clause, requiring the operative clause to be true for its own veracity. In other words, for there to be a well-regulated militia, the people must have weapons. A prefatory clause does not limit the operative clause, it merely gives a reason for it.
Does that mean there can be no regulation of the right to keep and bear arms? Absolutely not. An individual can lose their rights by being convicted of a crime; be being declared mentally incompetent to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; by not being a U.S. citizen or renouncing their citizenship. This is in perfect harmony with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But it requires a judgement or judicial finding to strip a person of their rights in keeping with the Fifth Amendment.
Congress has the power to regulate the interstate shipments of guns pursuant to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. It has exercised that power by limiting interstate shipments of firearms to those licensed to manufacture, import, distribute, or sell them. It further has the power to authorize an agency to promulgate rules for licensees and has done so.
Even our regulatory structure speaks to an individual right. Are we to assume that the Fifth Amendment or Congress’ power to regulate commerce apply only to militias? This way lies madness.
And then there is the militia itself. The National Guard is not the militia; it is a component of the militia. It is actually a reserve unit of the Army. making it a standing army instead of a true militia. However, since the U.S. armed forces are prohibited by federal law from engaging in civil enforcement duties within the United States, the militia bridges that gap and is subject to call by both the President and a state governor.
The other component of the militia is the same as it has been since the first militia law was passed in 1792: All able-bodied men at least 18 years old and less than 45 years old. The most recent law was enacted in 1903 and is still in force. There is no provision for equipping this part of the militia, which numbers in excess of 45 million men, which excludes those unfit or incapable of serving and those employed in a laundry list of exempted occupations.
I am not an attorney but I have read the laws and the court decisions. Your right to not own and my right to own are both governed by the same amendment as are the gun rights of every American citizen.
BTW: I am generally a liberal. Gun rights are not a liberal-conservative issue.