Friday, July 04, 2008

What arms do US residents have the right to bear ?

After a couple of centuries of ambiguity, the Supreme Court just decided that the 2nd amendment protects the right of US residents to bear arms.
Note that the amendment contains no limit or qualification on what arms.

One might (as the majority did) concluded that, therefore people in DC have the right to bear pistols. How can they then also conclude that people in DC don't have the right to carry nuclear warheads ? Both are arms.

In practice, it is generally agreed that the 2nd amendment couldn't possibly apply to arms that the founders couldn't even imagine. Such as, for example, an automatic pistol.

Fine by me to agree that people have the right to bear arms of the sort that existed when the 2nd amendment was ratified. No problem with people being free to own mussel loading muskets, rifles and pistols. Hell they can have 18th century cannon for all I care.

The line between a musket and an H-bomb is arbitrary. Deciding that an semi-automatic rifle is on the same side as a musket while an automatic rifle is on the same side as an H-bomb is clearly a matter for legislation not constitutional analysis based on telepathic reading of the founders clairvoyant planning for the nuclear age.

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