Letter 2 America for June 17, 2022

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Dear America,

Lately, I despair of the future of our country.  Two more mass killings with assault rifles have occurred and finally some of our senators--The Senate is the obstacle to getting gun laws passed because it takes 60% of them to get anything passed--some of them are talking to see if they can come to some agreement about passing something...anything...that might at least diminish the risk of more of these things happening.  For awhile the talks seemed to be progressing and finally the group negotiating announced an agreement in principle that they would now edit into a bill, albeit one that excludes some of the most imperative elements for interdicting this vile, and often random form of violence in the occurrence of which we lead the world.  But it won't amount to anything until the bill is written and submitted to the full Senate, which suddenly seems a dubious prospect.  One of the two leaders of the negotiations, John Cornyn of Texas (a Republican of course), has backed away, apparently over how to phrase the aspect of the proposed legislation relating to "boyfriends."  It seems that he wants something more specific before "red flagging" people identified as having threatened others whom they purport to love with murder by firearm.  I can't imagine why he would be so cautious about protecting the right to carry arms for such people whether they are boyfriends, cohabiters or strangers at large, but I guess he heard from enough Texas rednecks that they wouldn't vote for him if he voted "aye" on a bill limiting gun ownership in any way, even though Texas was the scene of the killing of the most little children with a semi-automatic weapon since Sandy Hook.  I have no doubt that his sudden withdrawal from the discussion is a sign of political pusillanimity rather than principle, but like most Republicans his ability to dissemble is his prime political talent.  However, there are still others, so we can hope that they can carry on to completion of the bill and get it voted on.  It's supposed to be ready by early next week,  so we won't have to wait long to see whether political expediency "trumps" sincerity in today's Senate.  All of which leads me to another point that I have raised before: "originalism."

Antonin Scalia wrote an opinion about federal regulation of guns in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, and that decision has been discussed occasionally in the press, at least since Uvalde and Buffalo.  Scalia, as most everyone knows, claimed to be an "originalist"...what Nixon called a "strict constructionist"...and what has gone by other names over time as well.  The latest to opine, tentatively in a proposed draft of an opinion that would reverse Roe v. Wade, that the original language of the constitution is sacrosanct, is Justice Samuel Alito.  In the case on which he wrote the opinion in question, he pivotally relies on the fact that the word "abortion" does not appear in the constitution.  Thus, he opines, the right to chose abortion isn't in the constitution, even by inference.  All that raises a question about Heller, regarding "ownership," of handguns in that case.  To get straight to the point, the words "owner" and "ownership" appear nowhere in the second amendment, which reads:

"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."

First let's get something straight.  The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the 3% ers and the like are not militias.  They are gangs of morons who mostly haven't even read the second amendment I'd imagine.  Militias are our armed forces, including the National Guard.  That's it.  And at that, the second amendment doesn't have anything to do with gun ownership by anyone, and doesn't relate in any way to gangs.  In fact, it literally has nothing to do with ownership of anything at all if you are a dedicated originalist.  It provides for militia members to keep arms in the course of their duty, but presumably only those issued to them by the branches of the militias they are in.  And it protects their right to carry them, but only within the "well regulated" range of activities that their respective militias direct them to engage in.  When they leave their respective services, they don't get to take their weapons with them; they can't "keep" them anymore, and obviously they can't carry them.  Those guns, the only ones covered by the second amendment, belong to our nation's militia.  So, for an originalist to claim that the second amendment codifies any right in the population at large with regard to guns is an apostasy against the constitutional juris prudence to which they claim to be committed.  So, if Alito is right about abortion, everyone who claims that he has the right to own a gun is outright wrong.

Apostasy.  There's another thing we're seeing a lot of since the ascent of Donald Trump, from Kevin McCarthy all the way across the Republican star firmament.  Let's just hope their leadership isn't on the horizon.  And let's hope that there are enough votes against apostasy to keep our democracy alive.

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on June 27, 2022 1:58 PM.

Letter 2 America for May 19, 2022 was the previous entry in this blog.

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