And so, perhaps it's time for gun-control supporters to come to grips with the fact that the Second Amendment actually means something in contemporary society. For which reason, I hereby advance a modest proposal: Let's repeal the damn thing.That's what Benjamin Wittes says in his charmingly titled essay ("Do the Gun Nuts Have a Point? Second Thoughts"), in The New Republic (registration required to read the entire article).
I count this as a victory. Not, of course, out of a desire on my part to see the Second Amendment repealed, but because it seems to indicate that civilian disarmament advocates are finally finding themselves forced to acknowledge that the Bill of Rights, as originally written (and as it still stands to this day) expressly forbids laws that would disarm the populace. It amazes me that it took this long for it to become too exhausting to sustain the intellectual gymnastics and rhetorical gyrations that are inherent to the perpetuation of the "collective right" myth, but I have a tendency to underestimate how desperately the authority junkies cling to their arguments, no matter how badly flawed.
At the moment, I have no idea what the final legacy of the Parker v. DC ruling is going to be, but if it does no more than force the other side to acknowledge that the fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is indeed enshrined in the Bill of Rights, I'll take it.
Jonah Goldberg gives the subject a more thorough treatment
than I am equipped to. In addition to a reference to the same Benjamin Wittes piece I mentioned above, he points to something said by liberal journalist Michael Kinsley, quoting a colleague:
If liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the rest of the Bill of Rights, there would be law professors arguing that gun ownership is mandatory.He also quotes liberal scholar Laurence Tribe:
(T)he amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification.Going back to Wittes' article, he illustrates that the years of judicial evisceration inflicted on the Second Amendment pose a danger to all of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
But, critically, judges shouldn't be in charge of stripping obsolete rights from the Constitution. If the courts can simply make gun rights disappear, what happens when the First Amendment becomes embarrassing or inconvenient? It corrodes the very idea of a written Constitution when the document means, in practice, the opposite of what its text says.All of this serves to illustrate that an individual rights interpretation of the Bill of Rights is not a "conservative" phenomenon, and is far from antithetical to liberal philosophy (an idea which seems as if it should be fairly obvious to me, but perhaps that's just me).
By the way, I should point out that I am not quite ready to endorse every statement in Goldberg's column.
It's not an absolute right, of course. But no right is.I have to wonder in whom he would suggest we entrust the power of determining the limits of our ostensibly inalienable right. If the individual right vs. "collective right" battle has indeed been won, I suspect that the next front will be about the "absoluteness" of the right (or lack thereof), with a second front opening up on to what degree the Second Amendment applies to states, as opposed to the federal government (it seems to me that an inalienable right isn't very inalienable, if any unit of government, at any level, can go ahead and "alien" it--and there seems to be a growing body of scholarship arguing that the incorporation of rights under the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the entire Bill of Rights).
It could be that Wittes will get his wish, and that the Second Amendment will be repealed--the "wussification" of America will not have to proceed much further for that to become distinctly possible, but at least those who wish to disarm us would be playing by rules on which we can all agree.
If we lose that battle, then perhaps we deserve to be disarmed--if we are so devoid of fighting spirit, it would seem that we have little use for arms anyway.