Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Rules for American Shootouts

If your neighbor has been firing automatic weapons at squirrels after midnight, Antonin Scalia is willing to think about whether or not he is breaking the law.

"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited," the Justice wrote in today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision striking down the District of Columbia's strict ban on gun ownership. "It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

Otherwise: "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to protect a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful proposes, such as self-defense within the home," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority, made up of Bush appointees Thomas, Roberts and Alito, along with the swing vote of Ronald Reagan's farewell gift to the Court, Anthony Kennedy.

"Unconnected with service in a militia" is the phrase that will open the door to challenges of gun laws everywhere, nullifying centuries of acceptance of the clear wording of 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."

Before the Bushes, America was a country that did not wage preemptive wars abroad or encourage homeowners to take up arms at the slightest provocation. If the 21st century is not going to be a replay of the Wild West, voters will have to elect a President to appoint future Justices who agree with dissenting John Paul Stevens:

"The opinion the court announces today fails to identify any new evidence supporting the view that the amendment was intended to limit the power of Congress to regulate civilian uses of weapons."

If you hear gunfire late at night, pull down the shades and, before calling the police, check with Justice Scalia for an opinion.

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