United States Supreme Court reviews Dee Cee’s ban on handguns

Reaffirming the Second Amendment does not mean we should not discuss the problems of violence in our culture or the tragedies and horrors that we have observed in our schools, streets and low income neighborhoods. As Americans, we are smart enough, creative enough and passionate enough to find compelling solutions that do not infringe upon our obligations and rights as Americans… and as prominent an important members of an international community.

Below, a trailer for a documentary on the Second Amendment:

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National Rifle Association

Below, a little background music, John Williams, Superman March.
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“Washington, D.C.’s ban on keeping handguns and functional firearms in the home for self-defence is unreasonable and unconstitutional…”

Says National Rifle Association (NRA) President Wayne LaPierre and Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox. LaPierre and Cox released a joint statement regarding the Second Amendment case now before the United States Supreme Court.

“We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will agree with the overwhelmingly majority of the American people, more than 300 members of Congress, 31 state attorneys general… that the Second Amendment protects the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms, and that Washington, D.C.’s bans on handguns and functional firearms in the home for self-defense should be struck down.”

District of Columbia v. Heller

Today, the United States Supreme Court listened to oral arguments for and against District of Columbia’s ban on handguns as conflicting with Second Amendment rights (District of Columbia v. Heller). The nature of such a ban was too broad and too sweeping in its regulation to be ignored by judicial review. In fact, oral arguments began with deep reflection upon fundamental questions about original intent and context.

Get a transcript here.

Reviewing the transcript, I read that the first concern was whether the Second Amendment gives a right to the State to raise a militia, OR, instead, it gives an individual right to a person for the purpose of allowing people to have guns to form a militia. On behalf of the United States, General Paul Clement pointed out that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees two individual rights that do not depend on eligibility for or service in the militia: the right to keep arms and the right to bear arms.

As Walter Dellinger, counsel for the District of Columbia, made his rebuttal, he proceeded with the assumption that the Second Amendment does, in fact, guarantee such individual rights to keep and bear arms as well as bear arms for self defense in one’s home. However, the Justices reviewed questions about whether or not the authors of the Second Amendment intended such right to include self-defense and whether or not they intended such right to be reasonably legislated… for example, by the challenged D.C. regulations… as opposed to being simply “infringed” upon by legislation.

Alan Gura

Regarding the later question which came up during the oral argument of Alan Gura, councel for Heller, Justice Scalia suggested that the Second Amendment could be “read in a way that the right is not infringed upon when reasonable limitations are placed upon it.”

In general, Gura spoke eloquently on the purpose of the Bill of Rights.

According to Gura, “the object of the Bill of Rights is to remove certain judgments from the legislature, because we can make policy arguments, normative arguments about many provisions of the Constitution. But to make those arguments and say, well, we’ve decided as a matter of policy that the right to keep and bear arms is no longer a good idea and, therefore, we are going to have restrictions that violate that stricture in the Bill of Rights, that shouldn’t pass judicial review. At some point you have to go to Article 5 if you think that the Constitution is impractical.”

Machine guns and rocket launchers

Interestingly, General Paul Clement did suggest that if the Framer’s intentions were that a militia were expected to support military defensive objectives in modern warfare, machine guns and hand guns should be defined among the weapons allowed to be considered included in the Second Amendment protections.

At one point, machine guns, armor piercing ammunition and rocket launchers were mentioned. However, it was obvious to me as a reader… that no one wanted to get deep into what kind of arms might be appropriate for a modern-day militia facing modern military forces that would be equipped with modern military weapons.

While there was some brief non-sense about weapons of the framer’s era being the only kind of weapons that were protected, it seems that no one took it seriously. More interesting to me was that the big question never came up:

Does the modern democracy still need people with guns to keep authoritarians and would-be tyrants guessing?

Guns and Democracy

Discussing this subject with friends here in Romania has fetched some interesting responses. The general idea of the answers that I’m getting is that resistance to a modern coupe would be futile, that a few rifles are no match for trained soldiers, and that there’s no point to fight and die for freedom (especially if you die). There is a sense here that change, accomplishment and time do not coincide. There is only the ever dominating, unalterable present regardless of the great desire for change and the perpetual discontentment of individuals.

I would argue that such thinking is exactly why corruption, cowardice, contempt and ignorance is rampant here – there are neither grave consequences nor a deep sense of responsibility for tomorrow. No one will evoke such consequences, no one assumes the burden of responsibility, and there is no urgency in which to overcome challenge and accomplish something for the nation in the future. No one is willing to pay the price because this moment of discontent is the only real moment and it merely coincides with the next “unlinked” moment of discontent.

The Romanian ever present which must represent to me, an American, as an incapacity for people to join together to face and change reality. At the same time, the Romanian ever present represents a general excuse and evasion of responsibility, history, and self-determined destiny. Freedom and Democracy in Romania was not (and will never be) a hard-won accomplishment to which the Romanian can devout him- or herself for the common good. Enlightened self-interest is a good joke here.

Freedom and Democracy in Romania is not recognized as a deliberate object that obliges the Romanian individual to its pursuit through time and with careful decisions and choices. Romanians will not sacrifice the possible individual pleasures and opportunities of the present in order to achieve uninspired national milestones through individual sacrifice, self-control, responsibility and disappointment- even if such were sure to become an accumulation of accomplishments whose social and societal value becomes priceless over time.

Perhaps, guns are not needed in Romania- neither for self defense nor to overthrow tyrants.

Just as true as it is that there is no way to prevent tyrants and safeguard democracy in Romania, there may never be a will strong enough to harness the energy, aspiration and imagination of the Romanian people to do great evil in the world. The failure of Communism and Christianity in Romania is not sufficient proof of the incompetence of these institutions… generally speaking.

The failure tells more about the Romanian soul which somehow resembles the ancient Arabic soul: stubborn, blind, petty and self-absorbed. Romanian individualism (rich or poor) demands open license now for whatever it desires and however such desires may be accomplished… as individuals. Any change that is accomplished is never believed to be substantial enough in the face of all other unaccomplished possibilities. Worse, such change may be undone in the pursuit of contradictions because the big picture is not clear nor does it coincide with a schedule.

Perhaps, it is a good thing that Romanians cannot manage and master time. They remain harmless and of lesser significance to the world; they remain a pawn of greater states, Western Europe, America and Russia. Their capacity to endure great hardships with the un-enlightened promise of material luxuries makes them useful to capitalists. Perhaps, machine guns and rocket launchers would change the Romanian people, give them backbone, and make them into an unmanageable dissident in the greater European state. And no one wants that.

America

Below, a scene of what a volunteer militia can do as represented in the movie, The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson.

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Learn about the American Declaration of Independence, here.

Like no other empire before it, the American empire has captured the imagination and hope of the wide world. It inspires peoples everywhere with emotionally-powerful vision and compellingly intelligent argument about the meaning of human freedom, property and ownership, and individual happiness. And where its voice and reach are hated; it is hated most because its voice and reach are so irresistible and unstoppable.

America is a nation and people of consequence, will and determination- regardless if it is considered ugly by those of weaker will.

Our modesty becomes our might as much as it is to our chagrin.

Our enemies and critics often exploit the American conscience and modesty; they would stand no chance if we were not so humble and so unaware of our true strength, reach, and capacity to dominate the whole world. The truth is that if America is suffering a downturn now; it is only because we restrain our appetite through our desire to share the wealth, resources and hope in the future with other nations. We’re doing the right thing, but no one acknowledges our virtue.

Knowing these things, our responsibility becomes a greater burden. We are not only responsible for ourselves, but we have become responsible for others. Such double responsibility has become the burden of Americans as a nation and as citizens. Our obligation to keep the torch of hope lit requires us to accept the responsibility to safeguard our peculiar American institutions of freedom, democracy, commerce, education, classical liberalism, invention, innovation, imagination, and think.

Second Amendment

Learn about the U.S. Constitution, here.

Learn about the U.S. Bill of Rights, here.

So long as we maintain a democracy and America continues to function as an empire, the Second Amendment remains very relevant to Americans, specifically, and to humanity, generally speaking.

The right of the individual to keep, train in the use of, and be ready to use effective and contemporary weapons for the purpose of self-defense and a common security is not only simply a right given to us by government, but it is an unfortunate compromise that correlates in a fundamental way with our dignity and destiny as human persons.

In a manner of speaking, we have been chosen among the peoples of this Earth. Perhaps, we have received an abundance of blessings – and in spite of our sins. Our charters of Freedom endure though others only give lip service to Democracy and Freedom- Western Europe, especially. Perhaps, America become great because we were made great from on high.

Many of our rights are more than rights; some represent clear and present obligation to the common good of our nation and the common good of humankind.

The promise of tomorrow, just as law and order, must be enforced- even if in abstraction of a holster, trigger lock or gun safe. The holstered side arm on the hip of a police (peace) officer does not threaten our safety and society. We must not reject our responsibility to behave and act responsibly… even with machine guns hanging on the mantle as I have seen in Swiss homes.

As Justice Scalia seemed to suggest during the oral arguments, and I agree without reservation, the fitness of the right and duty represented by the Second Amendment must be responsibly coordinated by legislative prudence. Public safety and health may dictate varying, reasonable rules and regulations for the storage, use, carry and transportation of such weapons protected by the Second Amendment. This is a fitting task for States and State Legislatures.

Where such laws seek to eliminate the effective and convenient ownership, training and readiness of an effective militia as ensured by the Second Amendment, that law must be found unconstitutional and contrary to the course of human freedom.

This does not mean we should not discuss the problems of violence in our culture or the tragedies and horrors that we have observed in our schools, streets and low income neighborhoods. We are smart enough, creative enough and passionate enough to find compelling solutions that do not infringe upon our obligations and rights as Americans… and as prominent members of an intelligent and dignified species.

Below, a clip about the First Virginia Regiment. And, yes, I am a proud Virginian.

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Stan Faryna
March 18, 2008
Bucharest, Romania

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About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

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One Response to United States Supreme Court reviews Dee Cee’s ban on handguns

  1. [...] Get Good Coffee – Know how to make a great cup of coffee? >> Second Amendment – What’s the US Supreme Court saying? >> Facism and Romania – Is this a European trend? [...]

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