Reading the Second Amendment Fully

Chief Jay writes in with a disturbing amount of supplication, even for a power-mad despot such as the Czar. Check out the second sentence in particular:

Mighty, Fearful Czar and Fellow Inmate of the Peoples Democratik Republik of Illinois;

I wanted to share this little story with you to see if it interested you at all. If not, I will simply slink away.

Last week I got into a Facebook argument (yes, I know; I self-flagellated for an hour afterwards) with a couple of presumed lawyers on Steve Cochran’s page (I don’t know if you know who he is; he was on mid-days on WGN for a while. Now he is on WIND).

Anyhoo, the whole donnybrook started when Cochran posted the NRA’s statement on the meeting with Biden’s Top-Notch, Blue-Ribbon Work Group on Suppressing the Rights of the Nation. A woman by the name of Kate Dugan posted a comment claiming, “… [T]he NRA is perpetuating paranoia among Americans all in the name of an amendment it profoundly misreads.” Being an ignorant rube, I asked her explain this comment. Of course, she could not, and referred me to this document, calling Harvard Law Review, “… [the] gold standard in the publication of leading legal academic thought.” Of course, I giggled at this. I read this document, written as an opinion I later found out. I mined this gem out of it: “In the first case, the Court stands above the fray, disinterested, merely executing the commands of Americans long deceased…” I asked her why it was that these stupid, old, racist, three-cornered-hat-wearing doddering fools screwed the pooch on this amendment but not any of the others. In typical leftist fashion, she refused, danced around it and then threw in an ad hominem. I was disappointed she didn’t drop in a dick joke, but I think that was too much to ask.

AT ANY RATE, I bored you with all of that to tell you this: I was hoping you could review this silly document and give your opinion. It’s not very long, but I am not an educated man and it made me woozy.

Your pal,

Hello, Chief!

No reason to slink away whatsoever! This is a fine question, and warrants a three-and-a-half part answer.

CNN’s Piers Morgan thinks you should not be allowed to own this. But wait, he would say: “I am not against you owning a hunting rifle! I just don’t think you should be able to have an AR-15.” Poor, ignorant Piers. This is an AR-15.

First the half part: Yes, the Czar most assuredly knows of Steve Cochran, even when he was a weatherman in Grumpy Old Men. He was a strong libertarian voice on WGN in the afternoons, but the increasingly liberal management there continued to force him to tone it down. After Obama’s election in 2008, Cochran dropped all pretense and began to express his real opinion on the air; he was quickly released by WGN without comment. He now has an unrestrained pro-libertarian show in the morning in St. Louis as well as his drive-time show on WIND here in Chicago. Great show, but he only wants to do a 2-hour show and many of his topics are much larger than 120 minutes.

Part One: What Does the Second Amendment Say?

The Second Amendment is not unique in the Constitution: it is written in the same 18th Century legalese—intended to be translated easily to and from Latin—as the rest of the document. The first problem is that it disagrees with liberal viewpoints. The second problem is that people just don’t know their Latin like they used to. Or their English.

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.

The problem words for 20th and 21st Century Americans are “being necessary” and “shall.”

“Being necessary” is a subjunctive mood construction; in Latin, this sentence would make perfect sense, and would likely have begun with the word sicut, which was used in a lot of legal paperwork. Today, many proclamations begin with Whereas, which is a fine translation of sicut, but the fact is that Jefferson and friends would not have bothered putting it in there because you would have known it from “being necessary.”

A very modern expression would be “Because a well-regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” That is the indicative mood form and eliminates nearly all the arguments about the meaning of the Right.

Another word that confounds folks is “shall.” Today, Americans tend to use the word “will” to express the future; in reality, there is a gulf of difference between “shall” and “will.” In English grammar, of course, “shall” means that something is going to happen in the future; “will” means that something must happen.” Most people use “will” today interchangeably and this confuses things further.

An additional difference exists in formal contract writing. “Will” means somebody is going to do something; “shall” means that you will do something. For example, “A sum of $100 will be provided as collateral” means someone (not you) will provide the money; “A sum of $100 shall be provided as collateral” means it’s coming out of your pocket. We still do this today when writing contracts, even though many attorneys do not seem to be aware of the difference.

The point is that the Bill of Rights is not written to you, the American citizen because that would be one more restriction placed on you. The Bill of Rights is addressed to the Government of the United States as a strong restriction as what they can and cannot do. Hence, “shall not be infringed” is a point-blank directive to the government.

This makes a major difference, as we will see in the Third Part of this response, below.

Finally, quite a few self-absorbed liberals kvetch about the word “militia&#148 as if there is some special meaning there. “The founders were talking about the military, not the public.” No, if the founders wanted to refer to the military, they would have said “military,” just as they did in Article 2, Section 2. Militia, as it does today, refers to private citizens forming a volunteer force that could consist of police, security, or a neighborhood watch. That’s it. Any quibbling over what “militia” means is a settled argument: you don’t have to wonder what they meant when they said it: the word is the same then as now.

Part B: Response to the HLR Opinion

The Czar has read the HLR piece, which is only four paragraphs long and dates back to November, 2008.

A summary of the piece: The Supreme Court’s Heller decision is a good example of the debate between Originalism (what the founders meant) and the Living Constitution folks.

That’s it.

Any Facebook reader who decides that this small piece of filler is proof that the Second Amendment is dead and all guns are illegal is highly imaginative, because there is nothing like that in there at all.

Also, the Czar believes the Gold Standard of Constitutional Law is the Constitution of the United States, and not four paragraphs in a law review. Does that reader even know what the Harvard Law Review is? It is a collection of interesting leading cases: here are some important cases you might have missed and where you can get more information on them. It is not essays on American jurisprudence, though the Czar can understand why someone with an inch-think intellect could make that mistake. It is a Review of the recent Law decisions; hence, Harvard Law Review.

Indeed, the essay in question is “Here is the Heller decision, in case you didn’t hear.” The author, Reva Siegel, makes no interpretation of right or wrong, no suggestions of precedent, or anything else that would contradict the mission of the HVL

Once again, one cannot read this and decide Siegel is on either side. It is a fair assement from some of the weasel wording in the essay that Siegel is a living Constitutionalist person and disagrees with the decision, but to be fair the comment about long-dead Americans is a little out of context as well. But to declare that this four-paragraph piece is proof that SCOTUS got it wrong is complete lunacy.

Part III: What the Czar Thinks of the Second Amendment

As a wrap-up, here we go.

The Second Amendment, the Czar believes, tells the United States government that any restriction or ban on privately owned firearms is forbidden, because an armed population is necessary to safety and security of the entire country.

There you go.

Many folks are siding with Ben Shapiro, who said that his right to own an AR-15 is to help prevent a takeover by government forces.

The Czar thinks that scenario is a bit far-fetched. The Czar thinks that Ben Shapiro has a right to own an AR-15 because it’s nobody’s goddamned business what type of rifle chassis he buys.

Yes, the Czar believes the founders were clear on this: no assault weapons bans, no concealed carry prohibitions, no handgun bans, and no limits on magazines or calibers.

Further, the Czar believes that even automatic weapons, without registration, should be available to the public because putting out three bullets in a half second is no more dangerous than putting out three bullets in two seconds on a semi-automatic. Or three bullets in three seconds with a bolt-action rifle. They are no more or less dangerous to law enforcement and private citizens as any other type of firearm. Gun control fans actually would find themselves ill-equipped to debate the Czar on automatic weapons.

The Czar does believe, however, that anti-tank weapons, rocket launchers, grenades, and other small infantry weapons are not Arms in the constitutional sense, as an improperly stored rocket launcher, like a pipe bomb, is a danger to the surrounding community and not just the owner.

The Czar doesn’t care—and believes the government shall not care—on whether you hunt, serve in law enforcement, desire to protect your home or your neighbor’s home, work in security, or just like to collect. Your firearm choice, including not owning one, is entirely your right.

And sorry if this doesn’t go Facebook’s way. Then again, they are free to disagree: they enjoy their First Amendment rights thanks to the Second.

About The Czar of Muscovy

Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia by upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.