Justice Breyer spoke out today on the dissent side of the 2008 decision overturning Washington DC’s hand gun ban. The ban made it nearly impossible to own a pistol in DC and even if you managed to get a weapon, it was illegal to store it in a way suitable to defend yourself from home intrusion. Justice Breyer contends the founders never wanted the Second Amendment included, at least not for the sake of personal rights, but that it was a pragmatic approach to getting the Constitution ratified. He claims that Hamilton’s ultimate goal was the ratification of the Constitution and as a result he threw in the Second Amendment to placate states concerned the Federal government would nationalize the militias. The fact this vote was so close is terrifying! The Supreme Court came within one vote of destroying the Second Amendment and Justice Breyer seems content to let the ban stand. This is ridiculous.
First, it doesn’t really matter if it was a “compromise” to get the Constitution ratified or not. The Connecticut compromise gave each state 2 Senators, yet no one is arguing against that “compromise.” Regardless, in this case I don’t think it was much of a “compromise.” Madison framed the Constitution, he was strongly in favor of individual freedoms and limiting the Federal government. If he did not agree with allowing Americans to posses guns he would have fought against the amendment. Beyond his obvious belief in individual freedoms and limited government would Madison welcome a court interfering, attempting to take back a compromise or give the government power outside its given realm.
Second, the founders knew the importance of a “well regulated militia.” The state militia was not simply a national guard intended to help after tornadoes, it was also to prevent the Federal government from encroaching on rights. These patriots saw the results of an unarmed populace, they knew firearms were an integral part of defending personal liberty from tyranny. State militias would defend the states from the federal government; ultimately, allowing individuals to defend themselves. Just as Castro, Mao, Hitler and every dictator in history has come for weapons, followed by books, before devastating their nation, the founders knew people needed a way to protect their rights.
Speaking of protecting their rights the founders intended for weapons to be a method of defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness as the founders understood it meant, literally, the pursuit of your circumstances. This actually meant your ability to defend your livelihood and means to survive. This could be your farm, your cow, your taxi, your law books, pharmacy, whatever it is you do to make money. Next as previously discussed guns defend your liberty. They protect you from the government and those who would take your freedom.
Finally, guns allow you to protect yourself and your family. Justice Breyer may be fine with riding a subway to Maryland to shoot a gun (is he saying gun owners are too poor to own a car?), but here in Texas I like the fact I have 3 loaded guns hidden throughout my house. If you come in my home uninvited, I’ll call the police, but while I wait the 9-20 mins it will take for the police to arrive I’ll stop you in your tracks before you hurt my family. Police officers themselves know they cannot help you in time. The average violent break-in can take 3 mins, but police response is 9 mins. You do the math. There are far more instances of gun use to prevent violence, than to commit it, but you never hear about them. Sure I like shooting my pistol on the weekend, I enjoy target shooting and hunting (I won’t be buying beef for a few more months), but I own a pistol to protect my home and family. Justice Breyer if you don’t like it, fine don’t buy a gun, trust the cops to get there soon enough, but keep your progressive hands off my Smith & Wesson. I’m not driving to another state to shoot and I’m not going to fumble with a trigger lock while some rapist takes my wife and holds me at gun point.