To the Valley News:
For the last two months Mr Mauer and I have been having an exchange about the meaning of the Second Amendment.
In his most recent letter of May 18, replying to my letter of May 4, Mr. Mauer completely misinterprets my observation that the Second Amendment refers to a “well regulated militia,” and not, as Mr. Mauer phrased it, to a “well trained militia.” He states that I “insist that the word ‘regulated’ somehow has nothing to do with training of the militia . . .“ I wrote no such thing. The point I tried to make was that, to the courts and historians, the term “regulated” refers to government regulated militias not to private militias.
More important, however, are two other claims that Mr. Mauer makes: first, that the Second Amendment’s phrase “shall not be infringed” states an absolute prohibition on gun control; and second, that the Second Amendment provides for the right of revolution.
As to the Second Amendment creating an absolute prohibition on gun control, the U.S. Supreme Court nixed that idea in 2008:
“[L]ike most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose . . .”
Thus, the Second Amendment, like every component of the Bill of Rights, encounters limits. Lower federal and state courts are in the process of determining what those limits are. Since 2008 federal and state courts have upheld a wide variety of gun control laws.
Even more important than Mr. Mauer’s claim that the language of the Second Amendment creates an absolute prohibition on gun control measures, is his second claim that “the overarching purpose” of the Second Amendment is to protect the right of “the People” to initiate a revolution via private militias armed with the same military-grade weapons that the U.S. military and National Guardsmen can physically “keep and bear.” (Letter of April 6)