One Gun Per White Adult Male? A Flintlock Musket? The “One Man, One Gun” Decision (October 4, 2010)
. The Supreme Court ruled today that states can limit the ownership and possession of guns to one and only one gun for each White adult male. In a closely followed case challenging the state statute limiting gun purchases to one gun per month, a majority of the Supreme Court, adopting a ‘strict constructionist’ and ‘originalist’ analysis, held that each White adult male in 1787 possessed one and only one gun – a flintlock musket. That fact and circumstance underpinned the Founding Fathers understanding of and the language in the Second Amendment. That historical fact is the benchmark for the strict constructionists/originalists. The case is being heralded as the “one man, one gun” decision.
. Supreme Court commentators note that the majority – Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy – issued one of the few completely honest opinions of their judicial careers. For reasons that are not elucidated, the majority departed from their tendentious jurisprudence and displayed rare doctrinal integrity consistent with their “strict constructionist/originalist” analysis. The “strict constructionist/originalist” analysis looks at the state of affairs when the Constitution was adopted in 1787.
. The dissenting opinion of the minority – Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan – notes the generally accepted conclusion of all reasonable men and women that there are fundamental disagreements about the state of affairs in 1787 that undermine the basic assumption of the “strict constructionist/originalist” worldview. The dissenters note that rational regulation is allowed and contend that the Second Amendment read in concert with other Amendments and protections allows more than just Whites, and more than just adults, and more than just males to own and possess more than just one gun.
. Some commentators note that this interpretation of the Second Amendment allows and may now require states to regulate gun ownership and possession diligently to protect the right to keep and bear arms. The regulation is necessary so that a White adult male is able to own and possess one but no more than the one flintlock musket as mandated by the Second Amendment.
. One commentator observed that those in the West typically possessed a pistol on their hip and a rifle in their scabbard. Pictures were offered in support. However, although there was land to the west, there was no West in 1787. And there was no rifled barrel. Thus, consistent with the analysis of the majority, a White adult male in the West also is limited to one flintlock musket. The commentator notes that the decision will be construed by some liberal activist judges in the Ninth Circuit (an area that includes some of the West and all of the West Coast states) who maintain a more dynamic and pragmatic view of Constitutional interpretation. Those who believe in a “living Constitution” recognize that society and technology change and develop over time. These judges likely would allow residents of the West and West Coast to own and possess two guns, one pistol and one rifle. Commentators agree that such a decision by the Niners surely would be overturned by the Supremes.
. In an interview, a local sportsman, Norm Smith, Jr., who is included among the named plaintiffs challenging the state statute, commented to reporters: “I’ve thought a lot about this, but the lawyers wouldn’t listen to me. I was saying to Norma the other day, she’s my wife, that they should not look at things in 1787, the year the Constitution was adopted, or in 1791, the year the Second Amendment was adopted. The Amendments, now she agreed with me on this, at least the first Ten Amendments are not really our Bill of Rights because the Amendments are only limitations on the government not an enumeration of individual rights. The individual rights are already out there. At the founding of our Great Republic, a flintlock musket was of course a manual not an automatic weapon. With the flintlock musket, a man could trigger one shot but then had to reload; there was a short break before the next shot which gave him time to reflect even if he was frantically reloading. The weapons did not represent the threat to the populace that weapons represent today. What if Congress finds that there was and is a human right to be free of excessive violence in society grounded in one’s fundamental liberty interests that existed in 1787? What if a 28th Amendment is adopted to repeal the Second Amendment and ban all private ownership of weapons? No one can assert a claim pursuant to the 18th Amendment today because of the passage of the 22nd Amendment. The 28th Amendment would become the test of constitutionality. That outcome would not be good.”
. Mr. Smith continued: “Now I am a responsible sportsman who stores my guns in a locked safe and uses them carefully in the field. Under the worst case scenario before the decision in my case was issued, I feared that the law could be construed to require me to choose between Jack O’Connor’s favorite caliber, the .270, and my dad’s choice, the .300 H & H Magnum, he’s Norm, Sr. And Elmer Keith’s celebrated .44 Magnum is now illegal except maybe on the West Coast of all places, so they say. I just didn’t realize that the Second Amendment limits me to one and only one flintlock musket. Who would have known? However, when you think about it, they are right. The average White guy around 1791 only had one flintlock musket. That’s the way it was; that’s the way it is. That’s the law.”
Bumper stickers of the week:
Be careful what you aim at because you just might hit it
Gun control means missing your target
An armed society is a polite society . . . and a dangerous one at times