California representative Eric Swalwell is the latest empty suit to enter the presidential sweepstakes on the democrat side.
He evidently intends to make gun control – or rather, gun confiscation – his Numero Uno campaign agenda issue.
Last year Swalwell wrote: “An assault weapon, then, is a hand-held weapon of war, capable of spraying a crowd with more lethal fire in seconds. We should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law, and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons. The ban would not apply to law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs.”
It appears obvious that Swalwell’s intent is to confiscate all guns, but assumes it easiest to just begin by outlawing the scariest looking ones. Like all leftists, he knows that once the framework is in place, they’ll be no stopping that inevitability.
Swalwell added, “Our courts haven’t found a constitutional right to have assault weapons, anyway. When the Supreme Court held in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that this right ‘is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.'”
That one sentence – “Our courts haven’t found a constitutional right” – clearly defines the major problem in this country, run by pinhead lawyers and judges so full of arrogance they think themselves and their decisions superior to the Constitution and the founders. By citing only court decisions instead of original intent, one bad decision leads to another and so on. It also provides cover to confiscators to purposely avoid the founder’s views on guns.
While I adamantly disagree with every Swalwell premise, I do agree with Justice Scalia.
So, did the framers intend the Second Amendment to encompass an individual’s right to own and carry guns for self-protection? It turns out they, the founders, had plenty to say on the subject.
The first state Declaration of Rights to use the term “bear arms” was that of Pennsylvania in 1776: “that the people have a right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state.” Pretty clear. No ambiguity there.
Noah Webster of dictionary fame was certainly in a position to know what the second amendment phrase “bear arms,” meant. A prominent Federalist, he wrote the first major pamphlet in support of the Constitution when it was proposed in 1787, in which he stated:
…before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed. …
Again, pretty straightforward, but one might expect that of a wordsmith.
In fact, in Webster’s famous dictionary, first published in 1828 it defines “bear” as to wear; to bear a mark of authority or distinction; as to bear a sword, a badge, a name; to bear arms in a coat.” Continuing to the word “arms”: “weapons of offense, or armor for defense and protection of the body.” So according to Webster, “bear arms” is to carry or wear weapons openly or concealed.
Thomas Jefferson was an admirer of the writings of Cesare Beccaria. Beccaria wrote an essay on “Crimes and Punishments” which greatly influenced the Eighth Amendment on cruel and unusual punishment.
Jefferson wrote, word for word, passages from Beccaria in his commonplace book (a journal). One such passage was a denouncement of laws which forbid “di portor le armi.” In other words, to forbid the bearing, carrying or wearing of arms. At the end of this rather lengthy passage was the money quote, as it were.
… Does the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator; and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed.
Beccaria’s passage was the source in Jefferson’s proposed Virginia Constitution of 1776: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” By the way, Thomas Jefferson carried pocket pistols – concealed pocket pistols – without a permit!
John Adams wrote of the right of “arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion … in private self-defense.” Notice – “individual discretion,” not the discretion of the government.
In 1789, mere days after Madison proposed the Bill of Rights, Tench Coxe, a friend and correspondent of both Madison and Jefferson wrote that this would confirm to the people “their right to keep and bear their private arms”. Interestingly, neither man corrected Mr. Coxe that it was only within the militia, because it isn’t.
So if the right to bear arms is unrestricted, does that mean you should be able to own a tank, artillery or other heavy weapons? Well, I believe the answer is clearly no. How can I say this? Simple. Words mean things.
The Second Amendment gives one the right to “keep and bear arms”; arms that an individual can carry or wear, to protect oneself.
Okay then, what about grenades, bombs, RPGs, etc. Although they can be carried they are not considered weapons of self-defense, as they are more prone to cause collateral damage of the innocent as well as the guilty or the aggressor. This, I believe, is what Scalia was referring to.
Taking things further, there is the question of having to register your weapon or obtain a license to carry. Is this an infringement of the second amendment? Yes it is.
Senator Ted Cruz described it well. “Would one need to register or obtain a license to exercise their religious or political beliefs or free association such as the First Amendment delineates? Wouldn’t you think it absurd to require a permit before objecting to unreasonable search and seizure?”
The bottom line is, an infringement is an infringement regardless of the amendment infringed upon, and it is clear that most, if not all, Swalwell’s gun control measures infringe upon an individual’s right to keep and bear arms as set forth by the founders.
As inconvenient as it may be, perhaps Congressman Swalwell should go back and learn a little more history before spouting off regarding the Second Amendment.