Misfiring on the Second Amendment

IBy Douglas Harding In his July 14 online opinions piece “Ban Concealed Weapons at the U,” Earl McDowell asserts “the people” do not have individual rights guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution. This is a very common error, and I am surprised McDowell repeats it.

In fact, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated in 1990 that the phrase “the people,” as used in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and 10th Amendments, clearly includes all persons in our national community. As for the word “militia,” Congress has twice passed a law which includes all able-bodied males in the militia. The National Guard is not a militia, nor was it ever intended to take the place of any existing military organization.

The Supreme Court has had very few Second Amendment cases before it, and the only one of any interpretive use is United States v. Miller. In this case the Court concluded the deceased Miller’s possession of a sawed-off shotgun violated the Gun Control Act of 1934, because the gun was not “any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.” One could therefore conclude that the Court decided “the people” could possess any weapon which might contribute to military defense. Furthermore, the recent Fifth Federal Circuit Court decision in Emerson v. United States concludes the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. There is much commentary available written by the Founding Fathers on this subject. I suggest McDowell, and those who agree with him, read it.

Douglas Harding lives in Salinas, California.

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