Letter to the Editor

I had a letter to the editor published in today’s Inquirer.  I responded to a letter arguing fallaciously that second amendment rights are limited to militia service.  Here’s my letter:

A letter yesterday, “Guns and militias,” claimed Second Amendment rights are limited to militia service. The author would benefit from reading the majority opinion of the Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision, which is filled with court precedents, the writings of the founders, their contemporaries and their sources; as well as the Heller dissent, which has few historical citations and generally engages in wishful thinking.

Consider this: “A well-educated workforce being necessary to the prosperity of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.” Would this limit book ownership only to those who are employed or only to the context of employment? Clearly not. As Justice Scalia put it in the Heller decision, the militia clause announces the purpose of the amendment without limiting the scope of the right.

I’ve been mulling over the “well-educated workforce” argument for a while now.  I wanted something on a non-controversial topic that I could drop into the second amendment that would have the same structure, and even nearly the same cadence as the original, to make it clear the militia clause in no way limits the right being protected.

My original version of the argument used “well-educated populace” rather than “workforce” but I realized that was vulnerable to the critique that it wasn’t a direct parallel of the second amendment because the populace is everyone and a militia isn’t (at least in the minds gun controllers).  Workforce, on the other hand, closely parallels the structure of the second amendment.

To be honest I’m a little disappointed that I even needed to deploy this argument.  In a post-Heller world I was hoping the militia clause would be put to bed.  Apparently that was wishful thinking.

7 Responses

  1. It will never be over. Helmke’s recent pap over “Big Boomers” convinced me of that. Too big, too small, too ugly, they want them all.

    It’s like arguing with a four year old…the arguments keep changing, don’t make a lot of sense, and once you have decisively proven your point, you will be faced with a lot of crying and temper tantrums.

  2. Good letter! Most people don’t believe me when I say the Inquirer will publish pro-gun stuff. Newspapers are more likely to print things that oppose the common view presented, and the Inquirer’s editorial department is quite reasonable. They personally would never advocate it, but I found it very easy to pitch a pro-gun op-ed to them that ran on primary day. Biggest paper on one of the biggest political days of the year…yeah, I’ll take that.

  3. [...] Manifesto managed to get a letter to the editor published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He followed Bitter’s advice about waiting until they actually [...]

  4. The bed-wetters will not put the “militia clause” to bed - not with them, and not without a hot water bottle and a nice chamomile tea - they cling bitterly to their old and threadbare fallacies.

  5. Excellent letter!

    I have always thought that analogies to other Articles of the Bill of Rights make a very effective argument, especially to liberal/ACLU types who don’t want to see “civil liberties” (at least as THEY define them) infringed.

    Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz put it well (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have it in front of me): “Foolish liberals who are trying to write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution, because it’s not an individual right or because it’s a threat to public safety, don’t see the danger in the big picture. They’re making it easier for OTHER groups to use the same argument to get rid of parts of the Constitution that THEY don’t like.”

  6. http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/unabridged.2nd.html
    “A well-schooled electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and read Books, shall not be infringed.”

    J. Neil Schulman included his exchange with Prof. Copperud in “Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns” (1994).

    I keep seeing versions of this brought up in RKBA circles over the years. It’s important we honor those who bring ideas to us by acknowledging their innovations and contributions.

  7. Thanks David. I was not familiar with that quote. I’ll admit I would have been surprised if no one else had written something similar. Speaking of honoring…it is indeed an honor to have you post a comment on my blog. I’m not worthy!

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