Letter: Second Amendment doesn't guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon
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To the editor:
There has been much media discussion about the “37 words” that comprise Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued another ruling on the meaning of the “27 words” in the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Those words have created much consternation.
In the distant past, I walked into a small liquor store on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. There was only one other customer in the store — the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger. I was too intimidated to actually talk to a fellow Minnesotan. In 1991, Burger stated “[T]he real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure the ‘state armies’ [of the 13 colonies] - ‘the militia’ - would be maintained for the defense of the state [emphasis added] . . . . The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires. In referring to a ‘well regulated militia,’ the Framers clearly intended to secure the right to bear arms essentially for military purposes.” The recent SCOTUS decision turned that interpretation on its head.
I recently attended a class, “The Supreme Court’s Constitution Crossroads.” Professor Beth Cate, Associate Professor of Law and Public Affairs at Indiana University, noted that court rulings since 2008 have generally ignored the “well regulated militia” clause. That seems blatantly unconstitutional. And I think because of that, the Second Amendment is now thought of as a means of overthrowing, rather than defending, a duly elected government. Lost in that rhetoric is that the Constitution already provides a means for change of government — they're called elections.