The Second Amendment is comprised of one short but confusing sentence. It reads: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" (as ratified by the states). It's too bad that the "conversation" [A conversation about weapons, Viewpoints, May 8] had so little to do with the Second Amendment and subsequent Supreme Court decisions.
Scalia wrote the opinion in the D.C. v. Heller decision, which struck down D.C.'s law regulating possession of a handgun by protecting the right to possess a firearm (including handguns), unconnected to the military, for lawful purposes. The NRA has wrapped itself in that decision without acknowledging all of the content.
This is part of that decision: "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
The Second Amendment doesn't mention guns or firearms. It only says "arms." Many things fit the definition of "arms" beyond guns. Many types of arms are regulated — switch-blade knives, for example. Currently, there are regulations on various guns. Machine guns made after 1986 cannot legally be sold. The Supreme Court has ruled that the type of guns protected under the Second Amendment are part of ordinary military equipment (U.S. v. Miller). Very few soldiers are issued handguns. Issuance of a handgun to an ordinary, individual soldier is very unusual. The vast majority of those issued weapons get "assault" weapons. Does that mean handguns should be prohibited? Juveniles may not possess handguns (U.S. v. Rene E., 583 F .3d 8 1st Cir. 2009). A number of state and federal laws prohibit juveniles from possessing a handgun and prohibit people from giving, selling, loaning or renting a handgun to someone younger than 18 (e.g. target shooting, farming activities).
In the "conversation," Nil's last statement was, "One reason I feel that responsible citizens should be allowed to own sophisticated weaponry is that guns are necessary to protect ourselves from the government." Does "Nil" really think that his sophisticated weapon could possibly stop the government from taking his weapon/s away from him? Fatuous thinking. It didn't seem to work at Ruby Ridge or Waco. Will "Nil" stand his ground? Or is "Nil" a part of the "well regulated militia," marginalized by Scalia in the Heller decision? If that is true, then he must be aware of the Federalist Paper 29 (1788) in which Hamilton envisions that militia to be under the control of the "national authority." "Nil" must also be acquainted with the Militia Acts of 1792, which describe the organization of the militias and provided for the president to take command in times of imminent invasion or insurrection.
America is addicted to guns — my opinion. Our gun-related murder rate compares favorably with a number of Third World countries and far exceeds that of any other developed country. An addict must admit to the addiction before healing can begin. Until our legions of gun owners make that admission, there will be more dead. More dead children. Since the massacre at Newtown, at least 3,935 people have been killed with a gun. The vast majority are not suicide. An unfortunate number of the dead are children. (Slate: Gun Death Tally, 5/9/2013)