The bottom line: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment – in other words, found that it applies to state and local governments as well as the federal government.
The full decision can be read here.
My favorite quotes from Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion, followed by my translation:
“…a rule limiting the federal constitutional right to keep and bear arms to the home would be less intrusive on state prerogatives and easier to administer.”
Translation: It’s too difficult to protect this right. Additionally, the Framers got it wrong when they made the Second Amendment so broad.
Never mind the fact that the First Amendment states in part “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…”, and yet, it has been discussed by the courts for generations and will continue to be discussed as long as the Republic is alive. If only Justice Stevens could stand in front of the Constitutional Convention and explain that defending liberty was just too difficult and confusing.
“Your interest in keeping and bearing a certain firearm may diminish my interest in being and feeling safe from armed violence.”
Translation: Although the Chicago handgun ban has completely failed to prevent handgun violence, it still makes sense in the recesses of my mind.
This is the essence of the dissent: ignoring logic and historical precedent, we personally feel that you should not have this right. Stevens’ first-person description is, in my opinion, telling.
“…although it may be true that Americans’ interest in firearm possession and state-law recognition of that interest are “deeply rooted” in some important senses… it is equally true that the States have a long and unbroken history of regulating firearms.”
Translation: The Court has allowed this injustice to stand for so long that we must simply continue to allow it to stand.
Sounds like squatters’ rights to me. States have squatted atop the Second Amendment long enough that it doesn’t belong to the people any more.
From Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion:
“In my view, (the historical record) is insufficient to say that the right to bear arms for private self-defense, as explicated by Heller, is fundamental in the sense relevant to the incorporation inquiry.”
Translation: Citizens do not have the right to defend themselves in their homes with firearms if their state or local government says they don’t have that right.
I don’t think I need to expand on that point.
“There is… every reason to believe that the fundamental concern of the Reconstruction Congress was the eradication of discrimination, not the provision of a new substantive right to bear arms free from reasonable state police power regulation.”
Translation: As long as everyone’s rights are deprived equally, there’s nothing to see here. Move along, subject.
This (and similar opinions) ignores the historical precedent of gun control legislation being enacted to deprive minorities of the right to keep and bear arms.
“…our society has historically made mistakes—for example, when considering certain 18th- and 19th-century property rights to be fundamental.”
Translation: That private firearm ownership is allowed under current property law is just as bad as when slavery was legal – when one human being had the right to “own” another human being.
“…the Amendment’s militia-related purpose is primarily to protect States from federal regulation…”
No translation is really needed here, though I suppose Justice Breyer is eagerly awaiting a court challenge to the 1916 National Defense Act, which allowed the President to “federalize” the state militias (National Guard).
Perhaps Arizona Governor Jan Brewer could activate the Arizona National Guard to conduct armed patrols on the US/Mexico border in Arizona, with orders to locate, close with, and destroy armed drug smugglers entering the United States, and provide humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants while detaining them for the Border Patrol. Naturally, President Obama would federalize the National Guard troops and order them to conduct useless unarmed patrols. Governer Brewer could then claim that the state’s Second Amendment rights had been violated by the National Defense Act, and Justice Breyer would write the majority opinion which would return control of the state militias to their respective governors. Actually, that probably wouldn’t happen.
“Moreover, the Civil War Amendments, the electoral process, the courts, and numerous other institutions today help to safeguard the States and the people from any serious threat of federal tyranny.”
Translation: Subject, the federal government is here to provide a safe and secure environment for you. You don’t need a weapon to protect yourself against criminals or a tyrannical government!
That’s pretty much what Pol Pot’s troops told the Cambodian people during their disarmament, which preceded genocide. It’s happened elsewhere, too.
I’ll be updating the blog throughout the day as I read more of the opinion(s) of the Court. Make no mistake, all of this adds up to one thing: “reasonable restrictions” aren’t the goal of anti-gunners. Only the complete disarmament of law-abiding citizens will satisfy them. These comments expose their extreme goals.