Major paper: 'Repeal the 2nd Amendment'


The Chicago Tribune goes where few would dare to tread after the Supremes overturn D.C.'s handgun law:

Some view this court decision as an affirmation of individual rights. But the damage in this ruling is that it takes a significant public policy issue out of the hands of citizens. The people of Washington no longer have the authority to decide that, as a matter of public safety, they will prohibit handgun possession within their borders.

Chicago and the nation saw a decline in gun violence over the last decade or so, but recent news has been ominous. The murder rate in Chicago has risen 13 percent this year. Guns are still the weapon of choice for mayhem in the U.S. About 68 percent of all murders in 2006 were committed with a firearm, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Repeal the 2nd Amendment? Yes, it's an anachronism.

We won't repeal the amendment, but at least we can have that debate.

Politically, that would be as likely as changing the name of the country to the United States of Hussein America. There's several reasons for that -- aside from the obvious that a strong majority of Americans support the 2nd Amendment, there's the broader notion that re-doing any of the Bill of Rights would be a pandora's box...would the 1st Amendment, which probably has less public support on the real-world level, be next? The bottom line is that a document created by fallible human beings 219 years ago is as sacred as the Ten Commandments.

Bearing arms is really a subset of what almost all Americans would agree is an unalienable right, self-defense. Guns are a just a manmade device that may help achieve that...or not. It's actually like cars. One of Americans' most cherished rights is freedom of movement. Does that mean that citizens have a right to own and drive a car? No, we treat driving as a privilege, not a right -- a privilege that's open to almost everyone over 16, but with a long set of (mostly) reasonable laws. Of course, cars didn't exist in 1789 -- but arms did.

And frankly, whatever the Founding Fathers were talking about back then, it had nothing really to do with crime, the issue at hand nowadays. If you read what was said about the 2nd Amendment at the time, what they were talking about is something that 2008 Americans would find shocking: That people should have guns to resist the authority of our own federal government and its standing army, if need be.

Said Noah Webster:

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

So hypothetically, if you really support the 2nd Amendment as it was actually conceived, then when President McCain and his standing army show up to conscript your little Alex to fight in his 100-year war in Iraq, it would be OK for you and your neighbor to fight off the U.S. Army and the White House with your muskets. 

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Antonin Scalia would support that.