THE WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL BOARD EMBARRASSES ITSELF AGAIN with this extraordinarily lame editorial on the Second Amendment. The editorial attacks Attorney General John Ashcroft for adopting an individual-right view of the Second Amendment, using a particular case (in which a Maryland man, licensed to carry in Maryland, was arrested for carrying a gun in D.C.) as its springboard.

Here’s the dumbest passage, from among many candidates:

Our point is simply that the government cannot both embrace an individual rights view of the Second Amendment and prosecute people for wielding guns.

Well, the Post here seems to lose sight of the distinction between carrying a gun and “wielding” it, something that seems rather crucial. More importantly — as the editors of the Post would know if they bothered to read anything on the Second Amendment beyond (suspiciously similar) press releases from the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center, both of whom incestuously feature a lot of Post editorials on their webpages — prosecution for illegally carrying guns doesn’t violate the right to keep and bear arms anyway. Scholarship on the Second Amendment is almost completely in agreement on this point. Nor is that all.

The vast majority of states have state constitutional provisions protecting the right to keep and bear arms, yet — even in states where the provisions are treated as fundamental rights getting the highest protections — “carrying” weapons in public is treated differently from owning them. So there’s no inherent conflict in Ashcroft’s position at all. The Post is just, once again, gullibly recycling sound bites from gun-control activists, and diminishing its already-limited credibility on this subject still further.

Had the Post’s editorial writer even bothered to read the academic articles cited in Ashcroft’s letter stating his position on the Second Amendment, or the sources in this letter from eighteen state attorneys general supporting Ashcroft, he/she would have known that the editorial was nonsense. Which makes me wonder: is the Post really this clueless on a subject it editorializes about so often? Or do the editors of the Post simply not care about the truth?

UPDATE: Hey, maybe this is why, as Howard Kurtz reports, the press’s reputation is in the toilet. Well, given that three quarters of Americans support Ashcroft’s position, the Post’s effort to portray it as outlandish certainly can’t be helping.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Asking “Are all the Post editors on vacation?” Mickey Kaus finds another example of the Post falling for bogus interest-group spin. Maybe they should just print the advocacy-group pressreleases directly, with the contact numbers so we’ll know who to call if we have any questions.

Kaus, who’s on a roll today, also identifies a major Krugman error, which Krugman has only corrected on his webpage, presumably next to the item about rhinoceri, and not in the Times where it appeared. Interestingly, in the poll cited by Howard Kurtz, above, most Americans thought Big Media were lousy at correcting errors. Looks like they’re right again.