Kim Davies via Flickr

Mark Robinson of the CT Mirror lays out his case for gun control in an Op-Ed titled The 2nd Amendment Doesn’t Say That. In this piece, Robinson would argue that because in early America slaves, Catholics, and Native Americans were not allowed to be sold firearms, you must accept gun control.

Robinson opens his article by talking about Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s latest gun control package. The $64 million gun-control package and new gun buy-back program were not enough for Robinson. Robinson would point out that these gun control proposals, and many other like them, sound smart and “make us feel good” without actually accomplishing anything.

Robinson’s point here is that many of the gun control proposals made today don’t actually do anything, and to this point, we agree, but for very different reasons. Robinson’s thought here is that modern gun control proposals do nothing to restrict people’s access to firearms. Out thought here is that gun control does nothing to stop criminals from getting firearms because criminals don’t follow the law, and these laws turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.

The article continues laying out the foundation for a later point, that being that the 2nd Amendment actually does not give everyday citizens the right to keep and bear arms.

Even the most passionate advocates for gun control legislation qualify their remarks by saying, “I respect the 2nd Amendment and the right of every citizen to own guns…”  This concession relinquishes 50 yards of playing field even before the debate has begun.

The NRA and gun manufacturers love that most Americans are passively doing their rhetorical work for them.   So, let’s re-adjust our understanding of the 2nd Amendment.

What Robinson is attempting to set up here is that the 2nd Amendment does not grant everyday Americans the right to bear arms, and that gun control proponents are actually the ones propagating this much to the delight of gun rights advocacy groups and firearm manufacturers.

To further establish this point, Robinson brings up some of America’s history as it pertains to gun control and firearm regulation.

According to “A Well Regulated Right: The Early American Origins of Gun Control,” by Saul Cornell and Nathan DeDino, during the decades after the Revolutionary War, the sale of firearms was forbidden to Catholics, slaves, indentured servants, and Native Americans.  And contrary to the images of the “Wild West” from movies, frontier towns of the 1800s often required visitors to surrender their guns to the sheriff before entering the town.

It is no secret that gun control has a racist history in the United States, outside of baring Native Americans and Catholics, Slave codes were implemented to among other things, keep arms out of the hands of black people. It is interesting to see someone argue that because these prejudicial laws existed in the past new versions of those same laws should exist today.

While Robinson isn’t exactly arguing this point, he is using these historical laws as evidence that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with the individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Robinson then goes on to reference the Supreme Court case U.S. v Millier, which ruled that the 2nd Amendment pertains to militias and not individual gun rights.

In U.S. v Miller in 1936, the Supreme Court ruled on a case involving the National Firearms Act, (which was passed after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre).  In that case, the Court ruled unanimously that the 2nd Amendment pertains to militias and not to individual rights.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your political ideology, this case was decision was effectively overturned in D.C. v Heller as Robinson points out.

But in 2008, in District of Columbia v Heller, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, ruling that the 2nd Amendment did create an individual right to bear arms.  That is – literally – the first time the high court took this position.  In his ruling, however, Scalia was careful to stress the limited nature of the court’s ruling. “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. [It is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

As noted in the article, there is currently a stalemate in Congress and a Conservative majority on the court so nothing will be done in regards to this issue for years.

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2 months ago

Before the Battle of Lexington & Concord, a requirement to join the militia in most colonies, was that each prospective militia member bring his own firearms which indicates that personal owned firearms were far more common than the this misleading article would have us believe.

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