2nd Amendment revisited

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While emotions understandably run high during the public debate over solutions to America's ongoing gun violence epidemic, I think some reasoned historical perspective is sorely needed.

The NRA and gun manufacturers lobbyists have long used propaganda and sophistry to distort the truth when it comes to settled case law regarding the 2nd Amendment. As most informed citizens know, in Heller v. D.C. in 1998, the Supreme Court granted the right of individual gun ownership for self defense. What most people don't know is that before Heller, the Supreme Court settled law on the 2nd Amendment unambiguously linked the right to bear arms to the "well regulated militia" mentioned in the prefatory clause of the amendment.

The majority opinion in U.S. v. Miller in 1939 says in part: "the obvious purpose of the 2nd Amendmeat was to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of the state militia." In Burton v. Sills in 1969 the court rejected the appeal of New Jersey's strict gun control laws, saying the appeal "failed to present a substantial federal question." In Lewis v. U.S. in 1980 the court upheld a law banning felons from owning guns, stating that it found "no constitutionally protected liberties" infringed by the law. Further reading is recommened for those of you who cling to the idea that anyone with a grievance and a gun constitutes the Militia. Check out Maryland v. U.S. 1965, or Perpich v. Dept. of Defense 1990, where the Court ruled that today's militia is the National Guard.

Lest we think that the Heller decision completely obliterated this interpretation, think again. Here is Justice Scalia in his majority opinion in Heller, paying homage to the Miller decision: "We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. 'Miller' said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those 'in common use at the time'. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons." The majority of Americans that want to see a meaningful ban on high capacity magazines and weapons of war such as the AR-15. should be encouraged that Scalia's characterization of dangerous and unusual weapons would most likely apply to the issue of weapons of war in the hands of civilians. A ban on these weapons of mass slaughter is not in violation of the 2nd Amendment. Just ask the ghost of Justic Scalia. Ted Nugent and other like-minded gun zealots may disagree, but thankfully Ted is not on the Supreme Court.

I am in awe of the students here in Sussex County and all over the couintry who refuse to be silenced. I feel their energy and I am truly inspired. I willwork until my dying day to educate these young people on the myths of the gun lobby and the truth behind the 2nd Amendment. The 97 percent who want universal background checks, the 70 percent who want weapons of war off our streets and away from our schools, and the millions of courageous students who turn 18 before November will be heard from at the Ballot Box. To ensure domestic tranquility, in the pursuit of happiness, and in the fight to live free from fear, We the People will prevail.

Mike Vrabel


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