October 4, 2007

JONATHAN TURLEY: A liberal’s lament: The NRA might be right after all.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.

Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.

None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right.

Read the whole thing. And you might want to read my survey of Second Amendment thinking, as well as this piece on what it would mean to take the “states’ rights” argument seriously. As Tom Lehrer said, we’ll all stay nice and calm, when Alabama gets the bomb.

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