This is interesting: A judicial ruling that actually interprets the second amendment! That almost never happens. What’s more, it’s entirely conceivable that it might be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which would be a big ol’ ball of fun, judicially speaking. I think the last major Supreme Court ruling on the second amendment was in the early 20th century, although I could be wrong on that. It’s been a while, in any event.
From what I read of the ruling, incidentally, I’m in agreement with the majority. I’m not a huge fun of people running around with guns, but philosophically speaking I’m even less of a fan of people not running around with guns, and I do suspect the Founding Fathers wanted people to have their rifles and pokey weapons on the argument that only having soldiers and government types being armed was not part of their thinking. The drawback to this is you have kids accidentally shooting their friends when they play with daddy’s gun, people blowing their faces off when they’re cleaning a loaded rifle, and Wayne LaPierre being treated seriously instead of sucking quarters out of public phones, which by all rights should be how he makes his living. But these are these costs we must bear.
Incidentally, this is one of those places where my thinking has changed over the years. Back in my college years and early 20s I was pretty anti-gun and wouldn’t have minded a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw them. In time I realized I didn’t trust the government all that much, and certainly the last six years have solidified that idea pretty damn well. I still don’t like guns, and I still don’t buy into the various shibboleths like “an armed society is a polite society.” I don’t think an armed society is a polite society; I think an armed society is just as rude and obnoxious as any other, and the only difference is that your more crazed members of it will shoot at you rather than, say, beat you to death with a lead pipe or kick you in the kidneys until you’re pissing blood. But I recognize now that my personal dislike of firearms does not rise to the level of Constitutional revision.
(In case any of you are wondering, this realization predates my move to Ohio; hangin’ with the local rednecks was not a motivating factor.)
Going back to the ruling, I do find especially interesting the legal argument for the dissent, which suggests that as Washington DC is not a state, the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to it. This would by necessity mean that none of the amendments apply, which also seems to suggest that the Constitution is null and void in the District of Columbia. I’m not entirely sure I like that line of argument; on the other hand if the citizens of DC ever wanted to convince conservatives of the need for the District to have statehood, this would probably be the way. But maybe I’m missing something here. One of you lawyer types will have to tell me if I am.