“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.”
This is how former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens thinks the Second Amendment should read.
Mind you, he thinks this is clarifying its true intent.
Which, of course, merely demonstrates how you don’t need to know anything about the Bill of Rights to serve on the Supreme Court.
Stevens goes to great lengths to justify his position and how his interpretation is the correct one. I couldn’t help but laugh at how he discusses the number of gun-related deaths each day at the hands of private citizens. Meanwhile, the number of gun-related deaths involving our military overseas is ignored. He discusses the mass shootings at schools using assault weapons, but doesn’t mention the mass shooting committed against Afghan civilians in 2012 or by military personnel in military bases, which are all gun-free zones.
The idea that the Supreme Court decides what the Constitution means flies in the face of common sense. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights mean what their writers said they meant. This is like saying what an English professor thinks A Farewell to Arms is trying to say is more important than what Hemingway said about it.
This is why the ratifying conventions for the Constitution are completely ignored and never cited in the opinion for a Supreme Court case. Everything that was said when the Constitution was being debated contradicts them.
For example, this is what George Mason, the father of Bill of Rights, had to say on the meaning of the word “militia” during a debate at Virginia’s ratifying convention on June 16, 1788:
“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
Secondly, if it meant only for militia to be allowed to carry firearms, what’s the point of adding an amendment to say this? There is already a section of the Constitution that authorizes this when it was first ratified. Doesn’t it seem a little superfluous to say that those employed as national guardsmen to carry firearms can carry firearms?
Even if it did mean what Steven says, it’s still irrelevant when it comes to libertarian anarchy. Our rights do not come from a document. They merely acknowledge them. Changing the Second Amendment’s text to read what you want it to say doesn’t give anyone the authority to deprive me of my rights.
If the First Amendment was rewritten to say: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the exercise thereof except for reasons of National Security….would this mean I no longer have the rights I did before the text was altered?