Why the Second Amendment is not an individual right

The false belief that the Second Amendment confers an (absolute) individual right continues to prevent us from regulating guns, with tragic consequences. Yes, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority (5), declared that it was an individual right based on an original intentist interpretation of the amendment. Therefore, we must abide by this interpretation as long as Heller is in force, but that does not mean that Scalia’s interpretation of the history is correct. One of the problems, among many others, with original intent as a method for interpreting the Constitution is the fact that justices are not historians.  Too often original intent has been used to mask the individual preferences of the particular legal scholar. After spending years studying the history of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment this fact has become all too clear.

If we are ever going to significantly decrease the senseless killings (as well as the large number of accidental deaths and suicides) that are made possible by the unregulated gun market, we need to debunk the Second Amendment myth that gun ownership is an individual right that can never be infringed. Gun regulation will not completely eliminate gun violence, but it can significantly decrease the violence (as it did in Australia).

Therefore, I want to include a few links by two prominent historians and one legal scholar who show why the Second Amendment fundamentalists are wrong:

  1. “To Keep and Bear Arms,”: This essay by Gary Wills is long, but worth it. He carefully and comprehensively destroys the arguments of what he calls the “Standard Model” school (i.e. the Second Amendment dogmatists who insist that the amendment confers to them an absolute individual right).
  2. The brief from the Pulitzer Prize winning historian Jack N. Rakove in the Heller decision.
  3. “How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment,” written by the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman. This essay deals more with the political movement that created the Second Amendment orthodoxy that now plagues us.

Please read and share these links!

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Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War – The Washington Post

“Five million public school students in Texas will begin using new social studies textbooks this fall based on state academic standards that barely address racial segregation. The state’s guidelines for teaching American history also do not mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws. And when it comes to the Civil War, children are supposed to learn that the conflict was caused by ‘sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery’ — written deliberately in that order to telegraph slavery’s secondary role in driving the conflict, according to some members of the state board of education.” This is what happens when politically motivated Schools Boards determine what children will learn. You may recall the kerfuffle over the Texas state curriculum standards in 2010 and the textbooks in 2014 that led to this version of the Civil War appearing in Texas social studies textbooks. (see previous posts on this subject here and here)

The belief that the Civil War was about states’ rights not slavery might be comforting to some, but that feeling comes at the cost of truth, justice, progress, and everything we hold dear as a nation. How can students understand the present if they have been mislead about the past?

Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil War – The Washington Post.

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“The Conservative War on the Humanities” | History News Network

What would happen if we completely abandoned the humanities in higher education? The world would be very bleak! (see interview with Michael S. Roth)

This subject is related to my previous post on public education, but here the focus is on the humanities since much of the animus towards higher education is directed at the humanities. Conservatives insist that they are a luxury that we can no longer afford. This is a new stance in the conservative platform as pointed out by Andrew Hartman, author of A War for the Soul of America. Hartman thinks that new conservative position is “not only because most conservatives now dismiss the value of the humanities,” but  as a product of “the traumatic culture wars, when left and right angrily battled over radically different visions of a humanities education.” Read Hartman’s discussion of this topic here:

History News Network | The Conservative War on the Humanities.

The Culture Wars A Battle for the Soul of America