Anticipating a reaction to The Record’s Nov. 8 editorial advocating a modicum of gun control, it is useful to remember that the Second Amendment, often invoked by gun advocates to stonewall any regulation, is not, itself, written in stone. In fact, until 2008, the “right” to private ownership of firearms was not protected.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, led by Antonin Scalia, the court voted by only 5-4 to interpret the amendment to allow private ownership — even of weapons designed and intended to kill human beings in vast numbers. Given that the original writers clearly never intended an unrestricted right to own such firearms (why else would they include the opening clause about “A well-regulated militia”?), it is a remarkable inconsistency that can always be corrected by a wiser court.
In his acclaimed dissent, John Paul Stevens proposed an elegant fix. Reword the amendment thus: 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. At least then the debate could surround what constitutes a “well-regulated militia” rather than some unrestricted right for any individual to own any kind of weapon.