Resident's Viewpoint: Study actual roots of Second AmendmentWashington County Justice Galler has chosen to interject himself into the gun control debate – educating us on recent narrow Supreme Court rulings which dealt with very strict gun laws in two cities (Viewpoint, Jan. 23).
By: Carol Turnbull, Woodbury Bulletin
Washington County Justice Galler has chosen to interject himself into the gun control debate – educating us on recent narrow Supreme Court rulings which dealt with very strict gun laws in two cities (Viewpoint, Jan. 23). Although he says the Supreme Court protected “the rights of individual citizens to own ... guns which are typically used for lawful purposes, such as self-defense” – and then lists some legitimate restrictions on gun ownership – he says not a word about assault weapons, which are not commonly used for self-defense.
And Judge Galler might want to be careful about quoting “legal and historical evidence,” which is as muddled as the language of the Second Amendment itself.
Minnpost.com recently profiled “The Hidden History of the Second Amendment” (www.saf.org/LawReviews/Bogus2.htm), written by law professor and gun issues expert Carl Bogus. It’s a fascinating and well-sourced history of the convoluted process of drafting the amendment. Professor Bogus claims that the amendment was added to the Constitution in order to pacify the slave states, whose militias also served as slave patrols – guarding what was considered “property” and making it plain to slaves that any rebellion (and there had been some) would be met with deadly force. There was legitimate concern on the part of Southern states for they realized the states in the North detested their slave system. Rep. William Smith of South Carolina wrote, “if these amendments are adopted, they will go a great way in preventing Congress from interfering with our negroes.” Minnpost: “[I]t was clear that there would be no union unless the slave states felt assured that the new, more powerful national government was not empowered to abolish slavery.”
Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution gives Congress authority to organize the militia. And Congress was “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections...” (not to start insurrections against their own government, as many gun advocates interpret the term “self-defense” to mean. Thomas Jefferson was the outlier here). The Constitution declared that the president “shall be Commander in Chief ... of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” So, all the raging controversy aside, Second Amendment history certainly suggests a controlled right, as opposed to a self-appointed right, to bear arms.
And don’t forget that this militia was to consist only of able-bodied, white men. Just sayin’.
Bogus: “As they themselves were acutely aware, the Founders were of different minds on many different matters.” Today an individual (or a Supreme Court) can make a credible case for differing points of view based on Amendment history and quotes from Founding Fathers. But with respect to gun laws, at least, we also need to use good sense regarding the world we live in today, and the weapons available.
Turnbull is a Woodbury resident