Letters to the Editor

Guns should be registered. Most gun owners firmly believe gun registration is just a way for a tyrannical government to know where the guns are so they know what it will take to round them up. I certainly feel this way. By the way, who would the government send to collect these firearms? County sheriffs, members of the state’s National Guard. Time to address the elephant in the room.

The parsing of the Second Amendment. The text: “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." Assuming you attach a connection to well-regulated militia as a predicate for “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed” then it is possible to place arguable weight on a contrarian connection between these two sentence fragments.

However, some point to Hamilton in the Federalist Papers No. 29 who opined it was self evident that a well regulated militia was desirable as opposed to an unruly mob. Every state has its own version of a militia regarded as the National Guard which matches its needs with the active forces who are a standing army. The problem with the National Guard is that it can be forced under the active duty military command of the national government.

Some say, “…although it was organized state by state, it needed to be under the explicit control of the national government.” This was never the Founding Fathers view and was not said nor inferred by Hamilton in No. 29. What percolates to the top is that all of this means you can have a regulated militia, or not, and still have a right to bear arms by the individual citizen. One does not obviate the other.

Now this is all great intellectual fun, but there are some facts in existence today. In 1939 in The United States v. Miller, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could regulate individual weapons that were connected to interstate commerce. This precedent stood for nearly 70 years when in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court revisited the issue in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290). The plaintiff in Heller challenged the constitutionality of the Washington, D.C., handgun ban, a statute that had stood for 32 years. Many considered the statute the most stringent in the nation. In a 5-4 decision, the court, meticulously detailing the history and tradition of the Second Amendment at the time of the Constitutional Convention, proclaimed that the Second Amendment established an individual right for U.S. citizens to possess firearms and struck down the D.C. handgun ban as violative of that right. (Thanks to the legal Information Institute.)

Regardless of how some folks may feel, the court has spoken. For now, individual Americans have the right to bear arms. All else is moot. Any political agenda by any group to circumvent this ruling outside of a Congressional action, will be a violation of the Constitution with attendant repercussions.

Gus Fitch

Aiken