Are you smarter than a Supreme Court judge?
By Michael R. Shannon
web posted May 5, 2014
April was not a good month for Americans that still believe the Supreme Court is a font of legal wisdom. Former Justice John Paul Stevens authored an Op–Ed in the Washington Post proving you can be ignorant of history, blinded by ideology and confused regarding the plain meaning of words and still get to wear the black robe.
Stevens' essay was titled "The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment."
And no, Stevens' five words weren't "you can't have a gun," but that's a good guess.
He began his effort in problem–solving by using the left's favorite technique: Use distorted statistics to shock the public and advance a disingenuous argument: "Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents."
That's a big number. Almost as big as the total number of Americans killed each year in car crashes. What Stevens purposely leaves out is the fact that 19,392 — or six in ten — of those deaths were suicide!
Once the suicide is removed from the total, it become obvious that riding in a car driven by a cell phone–wielding woman is much more dangerous than living in Virginia where people are allowed to carry guns openly. And cell phones aren't protected by the Constitution.
What Stevens should be calling for is federal suicide control. If Congress would stop listening to the mortuary lobby and pass an effective law banning suicide — or at least get the ball rolling by creating suicide–free zones (this alone would speed up Metro travel in DC) — we could eliminate almost two–thirds of the gun deaths overnight.
The rest of the country could experience the safety and tranquility that residents of Detroit and Chicago currently enjoy in their gun–free cities. Once suicide is outlawed only criminals will kill themselves, surely a win–win.
But suicide doesn't generate much news coverage so publicity–seekers aren't interested in this sensible step to prevent unnecessary death.
Stevens contends the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment was ‘settled,' much like global warming science, until the NRA went rogue. "For more than 200 years... federal judges uniformly understood that the right…was limited in two ways: First, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms."
That's accurate without being truthful, since for two centuries neither states nor the federal government were trying to ban types of weapons, restrict the sale of weapons or impose ownership restrictions. So who would file a suit to stop an infringement that didn't exist?
As for not imposing a limit on state or local governments, Stevens proves his knowledge of the Constitution is limited. If what he wrote is true then the Bill of Rights wouldn't prevent states and cities from limiting speech, searching without a warrant and shutting down the newspaper if it criticized Barack Obama.
Stevens then lurches from urging judges to butt out because, "Public policies concerning gun control should be decided by the voters' elected representatives, not by federal judges." To complaining that those same legislators aren't doing enough to seize weapons from the law abiding in the wake of Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.
Before gracing us with his five–word prescription for domestic gun bliss, Stevens' last contribution is to completely misrepresent the Bill of Rights and specifically the 2nd Amendment. He claims the amendment "was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were "well regulated." This is ludicrous on its face. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect individual rights and without those 10 amendments the Constitution would not have passed.
The obvious plain language of the 2nd protects an individual right to own weapons, but that's evidently too subtle for a retired Supreme Court justice.
Then Stevens graces us with his solution: His amended amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed."
If anything those five words would initiate an explosion of litigation.
In Athens a citizen was subject to military service until age 60. I figure I can pull a trigger until well into my 90's. Sixteen–year–olds often served in militias, too, so many underage restrictions go by the board, thanks to Stevens.
As a serving militia member I will need my weapons at hand in case of a sudden call out. That makes militia members immune to any restrictions on carrying a firearm. I can carry in schools, courtrooms, national parks, football stadiums and even Toby Keith's.
Stevens evidently believes the same legislators who aren't passing the gun laws he wants are suddenly going to come down hard on militias. Historically militias were locally based and locally run without interference or control from the state government.
Each militia decided what weapons to carry, uniforms to wear, method of selecting officers and how often to meet. With Judge Stevens help you can think of the new militia as the Shriners with sidearms.
And as for what weapons to carry, let's look at the world's best–known militia the Taliban. The Talibs have RPGs, fully automatic rifles, grenades, heavy machine guns and donkeys. Everything the well–equipped American militia member could want, except for the donkey.
Stevens' ‘solution' removes age restrictions, expands the scope of weapons allowed for personal ownership and eliminates most geographic restrictions on where weapons can be carried. It's the exact opposite of what Stevens wants, but not an unusual outcome for leftist social engineering.
If it weren't for those boring monthly militia meetings, I would support him 100 percent.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron).