Keep and Bear It

In DC v. Heller, the 5-4 Supreme Court case that decided the meaning of the Second Amendment until Republicans are unable to steal justices, Antonin Scalia cites a 1931 judgment that argues for a very straightforward reading of Our Exceptional Nation’s founding document:

“[t]he Constitution was written to be understood by the voters; its words and phrases were used in their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical meaning.”

And then, just like any normal and ordinary reader, Scalia proceeds to sort the amendment into prefatory and operative clauses, the absence of grammatical constraint on the latter by the former, comparisons of sentence structure with other constitutional passages, and other normal and ordinary observations that strongly recall our first year as a normal and ordinary graduate student in philosophy.

Really, dude reads the Second Amendment more closely than we read Wittgenstein.

How close?

Before addressing the verbs “keep” and “bear,” we interpret their object: “Arms.”

That close. Like, Bill Clinton close.

But if you sleep through the seminar, no worries. For Scalia, the only thing you need to know about the Second Amendment is that you have a substantially unfettered right to have and carry weapons. Save your breath about that well-regulated militia; whatever Warren Burger may have said thirty years ago, Scalia’s word is now literally law.

However, Scalia does us the post-mortem favor of explicitly restricting the scope of his judgment: “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Which makes perfect sense. To a normal and ordinary reader, the Second Amendment covers only the right to keep and bear arms.

But it says nothing about their manufacture, sale, or exchange.

And this includes bullets.

A few thousand mass shootings ago, Chris Rock famously proposed a Constitutionally permitted solution: Price bullets at $5,000 each. He left the implementation unspecified, but it would presumably involve a federal surcharge of approximately $4,999.66 each.

Problem is, that still leaves them available. And with mobs of billionaires running wild in the streets these days, it wouldn’t take long for a few of them to find some pocket change in the sofa and clean out Walmart to service the Red Dawn fantasies of paranoid Americans who wouldn’t know a Russian invasion if it happened.

So, because we’re long since exhausted from proposing Sensible Solutions that don’t go anywhere, let’s just cut to the chase:

Ban everything.

Ban the manufacture and sale of guns and ammo. Ban the private exchange of weapons and bullets between private citizens. Ban the use of 3D printers to create nonmetallic guns. Ban all imports. Just ban it all. Now.

You’re welcome to keep and bear your arms. That’s Constitutionally protected! But you have no God-given right to acquire them, and the rest of us have no goddamn reason to let you.

And you can tell the NRA we heard that straight from Antonin Scalia.

22 comments:

1:42 am • Saturday • October 7, 2017

Having studied law and read many Scalia opinions, he’s a judicial clown. His language can be torn down, but when you cite him to a court packed with conservative diehards, they love it.

2:39 am • Saturday • October 7, 2017

@blogenfreude: All true, but majority opinion makes the rules, so if Scalia wants to play literalist, I’m in.

3:08 am • Saturday • October 7, 2017

See Posner re: Scalia hypocrisy regarding legislative history. See also Boyle v. United Technologies, 487 U.S. 500 (1988), where Scalia gleefully uses legislative history to achieve his desired result – denying a dead soldier’s family a recovery for a badly designed helicopter that killed him.

Fuck Scalia.

12:04 pm • Saturday • October 7, 2017

I would be 1,000% on board with adopting the UK’s policy. Basically, ban private ownership of all handguns, permit private ownership of some shotguns and rifles (e.g., no semiautomatics) for hunters with appropriate training/licensing, and limit greatly the extent to which police officers carry firearms. Seems to have worked out pretty well for them over the last two decades or so. But it’s a pipe dream here.

2:35 pm • Saturday • October 7, 2017

@mellbell: Not just a pipe dream, flat-out unavailable. Even with a less-ridiculous SCOTUS, that’s never getting past the Second Amendment, and amending the amendment is never getting past 38 states — especially as liberal populations keep huddling in the largest states.

Short of that, we’re still talking about a 5-4 decision that can be reversed by a future court, and the law in question had some significant similarities with the UK ban. And there’s still plenty of room to restrict everything but keep & bear, even now — certainly a heavy lift politically, but not unimaginable.

Me, I’m going extremist here — ban everything you can — because there’s no point being “sensible” about it. The gun lobby doesn’t want to have an honest conversation, and until they do, fuck them. Maybe the threat of an all-out ban will bring them to the table, as the hostile power they are.

11:31 pm • Sunday • October 8, 2017

‪Remember, kids, respectful protest leads to respectful discussion! Civility first!‬

11:33 am • Monday • October 9, 2017

#NotMyVicePresident needlePenis wants to show everyone he’s just as much of a racist troll as PresiNazi Rapist. Mission accomplished. He’s also an incompetent, illegitimate traitor just like his bo$$.

11:53 am • Monday • October 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: At least that’s in the open now. Looking forward to his “healing” speech for the emergency inaugural.

2:28 pm • Monday • October 9, 2017

@nojo: It’s been brought to my attention that I should stop conflating the losers of this sick, twisted, evil regime with the granduer of the penis and the awesome pleasure it provides.

Hark–I completely agree and stand corrected!

Tdumbp and Dense are failures as leaders, failures as men, and failures as human beings overall.

They may have hopelessly flacid, itty bitty, tinky winkie, button hole-sized needle dicks, however that in and of itself shouldn’t define them.

2:38 pm • Monday • October 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: As a dude, I’m perfectly happy Penis-Shaming for Good. War is hell, man.

2:40 pm • Monday • October 9, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Overcompensating is just the curse of our kind.

10:47 pm • Monday • October 9, 2017

These fires in Napa and Sonoma are horrifying, and the smoke in SF/East Bay is bananas.

But climate change is just a theory. Years of drought, one year of insane rain, followed by super-dry summer = tinderbox.

The people, the animals, the grapes. I weep for all of them. This is the chill part of the Bay Area I always fantasized of being able to buy a shack in when I turned 70.

11:12 pm • Monday • October 9, 2017

@SanFranLefty: Snowed in Denver today, but I haven’t been here long enough to know whether that means anything.

6:17 pm • Tuesday • October 10, 2017

@SanFranLefty: My sympathies. The choking wild fire smoke in Seattle and Portland this summer was unbearable for two weeks.

We could actually see the ash particles raining down, while the weather people were all “the air quality’s fiiiiiiine–there’s nothing to see here.” Buuuuuulllllsssshhhhiiiiiiiiittttt.

6:19 pm • Tuesday • October 10, 2017

So… Blade Runner 2: The Thunder Down Under, yea or nay?

My hubby likely will drag me to see it regardless, so my only choice is whether I’ll be pleasantly baked or full-on Cheech ‘n Chong.

8:42 pm • Tuesday • October 10, 2017

@SanFranLefty:
I know. The stupids will have killed us all.

10:56 am • Wednesday • October 11, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Personally, no interest. Some stories are complete in the telling, and Blade Runner is one of them. You don’t need Further Adventures. There’s a point to the ending, whether studio version or director’s cut. Saying more dilutes it.

12:15 pm • Wednesday • October 11, 2017

@nojo: As more of a Star Trek geek, I never really bought into Blade Runner’s gloomy, dystopian, heroless vision of the future. Now I realize that it wasn’t apocalyptic enough.

12:19 pm • Wednesday • October 11, 2017

Holy fuk–Eminem (is still alive and) has produced the ultimate anti-Tdumbp rap. It’s actually worth reading/listening.

But we better give Obama props cause what we got in office now is a kamikaze that’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust and while the drama pops and he waits for sh*t to quiet down, he’ll just gas his plane up and fly around to the bottom and stops

Intensity is heightened, tensions are rising, Trump, when it comes to giving a sh*t, you’re stingy as I am… except when it comes to havin the balls to go against me, you hide em, cause you don’t have the f**king nuts, like an empty asylum

Racism’s the only thing he’s fantastic for… cause that’s how he gets his f**king rocks off and he’s orange

Yeah, sick tan… that’s why he wants us to disband cause he can’t withstand the fact that we’re not afraid of Trump f**k walking on eggshells I came to stomp… thats why he keeps screaming to drain the swamp… cause he’s in quick sand

It’s like we take a step forward, then backwards, but this is his form of distraction plus he gets an enormous reaction when he attacks the NFL so we focus on that instead of talkin Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada… all of these horrible tragedy and porters rather cause a twitter storm with the packers

and says he wants to lower our taxes and then who’s gonna pay for his extravagant trips back and forth with is fam to his golf resorts and his masions

Same sh*t that he tormented Hillary for and he slandered then does it more… from his endorsement to Bannon, support for the klansman. Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s black and comes home from Iraq and is still told to go back to Africa… Fork and a danger in this racist 94 year old grampa who keeps ignoring our past, historical, deplorable factors.

Not if you’re a black athlete, you’re spoiled a little brat for trying to use your platform or your stature to try to give those a voice who don’t have one… he says your spitting in the face of vets who fought for us, you bastards

Unless you’re a POW who’s tortured and battered cause to him you’re zeros, cause he don’t like his war heroes captured

If that’s not disrespecting the military

F**k that

This is for Colin, ball up a fist… and keep that sh*t balled like Donald the bitch

“He’s gonna get rid of all immigrants”

“He’s gonna build that thing up taller than this”

well, if he does build it I hope its rock solid with bricks cause like him in politics, I’m using all of his tricks… cause i’m throwing that piece of sh*t against the wall till it sticks

And any fan of mine, who’s a supporter of his, I’m drawing in the sand a line – you’re either for or against and if you can’t decide, who you like more in your split, on who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this:

F**K YOU

The rest of America stand up. We love our military and we love our country

BUT WE F**KING HATE TRUMP”

12:22 pm • Wednesday • October 11, 2017

I’d love to see Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren perform that one.

2:38 pm • Wednesday • October 11, 2017

@¡Andrew!: Seventies (and slightly post-Seventies) dystopianism is my birthright, and yes, their dark imagination fails darker reality.

9:26 pm • Friday • October 13, 2017

Just returned from the righteous Betsy DeVoid protest. I can’t believe they let RepubliKKKans in Washington state–how did she ever get in! Bet she won’t be back anytime soon.

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