1997-05-07 - Re: FC: Responses to Tim May’s criticism of SAFE, and a rebuttal

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From: Jeff Barber <jeffb@issl.atl.hp.com>
To: kent@songbird.com
Message Hash: ffafd7a766511c035a3928d37211b0d0ccc4d275691bd3e55b0169fa6cf0d193
Message ID: <199705071721.NAA29436@jafar.issl.atl.hp.com>
Reply To: <19970505214347.40130@bywater.songbird.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-07 17:22:20 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 01:22:20 +0800

Raw message

From: Jeff Barber <jeffb@issl.atl.hp.com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 01:22:20 +0800
To: kent@songbird.com
Subject: Re: FC: Responses to Tim May's criticism of SAFE, and a rebuttal
In-Reply-To: <19970505214347.40130@bywater.songbird.com>
Message-ID: <199705071721.NAA29436@jafar.issl.atl.hp.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Kent Crispin writes:
> On Mon, May 05, 1997 at 04:53:28PM -0700, Lucky Green wrote:

> > I concur. A citizen has the right to manufacture a grenade launcher under
> > the Second Amendment (irrespective of what judges scared into submission
> > by Roosevelt et al may have ruled), not the First. 
> I have heard, from a knowledgable person, that the reason that the NRA
> has not pressed a constitutional challenge is that their lawyers tell
> them that the historical context clearly indicates that the second
> amendment does *not* protect individual ownership of firearms, and
> that a constitutional challenge would almost certainly lose.  Hence
> the NRA resorts to lobbying.  That is, it is not a matter of 
> Roosevelt scaring the judges, but a matter of the clear intent of the 
> constitution. 
> This made sense to me -- if the constitutional grounds were clear the
> NRA could save a tremendous amount of money and trouble just by
> letting the court rule on it -- Roosevelt is dead.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone,
"it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."

The constitution is entirely clear on this point.  There really is
no need to look at historical context except where the meaning of
the constitution itself is *not clear*.  The "right of the people...
shall not be abridged" clause is in no way conditional on the 
first ("well-regulated militia") clause, even though most would
agree that the first serves as a rationale.  If the authors of the
bill of rights had meant something else, they could have and would
have written something else.

The NRA knows this.  They just don't trust the Supremes to agree
with their conclusion.  Understandably so, given the court's record--
not to mention its usual reluctance to overturn precedents.

This is a problem with constitutions or any other sort of written
documents.  Pinheads can always say the document doesn't *really* mean
what it clearly says.  There's obviously no way to fix that through
the document itself.

(I'm sure Jim Bell will say he has a solution though. :-)

-- Jeff