The Supremes: 2d Amendment and home defense
In a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will hand down a decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Mr. Heller, a D.C. resident, living inside a jurisdiction that has one of the highest murder, robbery and home invasion rates in the nation, sought a handgun permit. His application was denied.
Lined up against Mr. Heller are the “gun-grabbers” who believe society would be much better off if only the police and the military possess firearms. Unfortunately, such well-meaning, Utopian thinking comes in conflict with virtually every longitudinal study of what happens when law-abiding citizens are forced to turn in their firearms: Criminals achieve a monopoly on the firearms they need to murder, rob, and rape the unarmed, law-abiding citizenry.
Watching the law-abiding line up to turn in their firearms is reminiscent of what George Bernard Shaw said about second marriages, “…the triumph of hope over experience.”
Enacted in 1975, D.C.s’ total ban on weapons possession by its residents shot the murder rate up off the charts. The same has happened more recently in Australia. Conversely, those municipalities that have mandated the possession of a firearm in each residence have seen murder, robbery and home invasions decline. Criminals are not totally stupid. Just a NRA sticker on a door can serve as an invitation for them to go elsewhere.
Studies and facts, however, have yet to dissuade those who would disarm ordinary citizens. If they cannot prevail against the facts, they argue, with some justification, that firearms are a danger to their owners and household occupants. If the homeowners are so careless as to not be trained in weapons safety and if weapons are not secured from the hands of children, the gun-grabbers do, indeed, have a valid point.
Back in 1791, when the 2d Amendment was adopted, it was expected that virtually every able-bodied person possessed a firearm and knew how to use it. Weapons were necessary to provide food for the table, to protect against bears, mountain lions and other potentially dangerous animals. Firearms were the “great equalizer” to protect the weak from the strong.
From reading the debates surrounding the adoption of the 2d 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,” it is clear that “Militia” meant the able-bodied who could be summoned along with their firearms from their homes and cabins to assemble for unpaid duty in defense of the State. Otherwise, citizens were free to have their weapons at home as an individual right that “shall not be infringed.”
Based on the recent oral arguments presented to the U.S. Supreme Court and based on the questions and comments of the Supremes, it appears the thoughts of our nation’s Founders will prevail when the Court gets around to handing down their decision in D.C. v. Heller later this year. Even if Mr. Heller prevails, the D.C. government will still be able to ban the private possession of fully-automatic weapons, rocket launchers and, well… WMD.
Oddly enough, amusing aviation speaker and former Hollywood stunt pilot, Dean Englehardt, was able to purchase, via mail-order, an actual W31 nuclear warhead. Although minus the all-important plutonium trigger, the W31 still emitted enough radiation to excite a Geiger counter.
Just for fun, Dean snail-mailed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) a weapons permit application for his WMD. After a time, the BATF and local law enforcement surrounded his home. Dean took them out into his backyard. There, under a pile of sandbags, was his WMD.
The BATF demanded possession of the WMD. Dean threatened a lawsuit, citing his 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure. A compromise was reached. The BATF has the warhead. Framed on the wall of his den, Dean has what is probably the only privately-held WMD permit on the planet. Go figure.
Syndicated columnist and long-time aviator, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States. (Dean Englehardt can be contacted at: www.aviationspeakers.com.)
©2008. William Hamilton.