What Scalia actually said, or, Cannons For EVERYONE! (*Video*)

There’s been a lot of talk about Associate Judge Antonin Scalia’s interview on Fox News. A lot of it seems to have been hype.

Let’s go to the tape. Watch the whole thing, it’s good. You might even want to buy the book. But for the Gun Control stuff skip to 6:55


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He is saying that there are undoubtedly some restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. He’s also saying that those particular limits have to be explored in future cases.

He brings up the old law of “affrighting,” which is basically the same law we have in North Carolina called “Going Armed to the Terror.” It is a misdemeanor to take a dangerous and unusual weapon and parade around with it for the purpose of terrorizing people. It’s basically a “don’t be a dick” law.

The most important thing he is saying is that any limits on arms must be based upon the sorts of limits that were acknowledged to be appropriate at the time that the Constitution was written.

What’s going to be really interesting is when he’s presented with the historical information about crew served weapons. He thinks that cannons are not covered. He’s going to be shocked when he learns that at the founding of this country to well past the writing of the Constitution, cannons and warships were privately owned. In fact, we can prove that the writers of the Constitution considered cannon and warship ownership by private citizens to be normal.

[Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

We don’t issue Letters of Marque anymore. While we are not a signatory to the treaty forbidding them, we generally follow that treaty. What is a letter of Marque? It’s basically an official commission from the government for a private person to attack enemy shipping without being branded a pirate. What do you think that a person would have to have in order to attack enemy ships with? You guessed it, a ship, armed with weapons appropriate to naval combat.

So there you have it. The very text of the Constitution tells us that it was not considered wrong for private citizens to own a ship nor to fill that ship with cannons.

Makes it pretty tough to argue that the Government has the power to prevent people from having cannons without running afoul of the Second Amendment, doesn’t it.

Want to know more about the privateers of the Revolutionary War? Here’s a list of about 2,200 of them. When you can point to a list of over 2,000 private warships in a country that had less than 4 million residents, you can’t even claim they were rare.

9 responses to “What Scalia actually said, or, Cannons For EVERYONE! (*Video*)

  1. What I absolutely disagree with him most is how 2A does not apply to cannons. “You can’t bear them.”

    Ummmm… You most certainly do bring cannons (and other arms) to bear. You do not hold them in your hands, but you most certainly do bring them to bear.

  2. Remember that in the 18th century the guys writing the constitution didn’t want the US to have a standing army at all so of course citizens would need the weapons appropriate for defending the country. Plus it’s KEEP and bear, I can’t bear as in carry around a cannon but I damn sure can keep one.

  3. You know, I am certain that the anti-gunners will regret starting this argument. We could have kept on like we were in 1968, but they stuck their nose in and started a war.

    When I was a kid anyone who owned an AR was some sort of wannabe. They shot piddly little bullets that weren’t big enough to take down a deer, they weren’t accurate, and they topped their utter fail off by looking like scary death instruments without actually BEING scary death instruments.

    Clinton banned the things, or tried, and now everyone has one. They are now as accurate as you feel like paying for, come in multiple calibers, and we can all get multi-day carbine shooting classes for them.

    This whole movement is starting to sound to me like a collective “Oh, Yeah?” moment. We can’t have “Assault Weapons? Oh, Yeah? Take that!” Next it’s going to be “Can’t have cannons? Oh, Yeah?”

    If the anti-gunners had left well enough alone we’d still be arguing that we might like to carry our guns outside the house instead of fighting in Illinois to get concealed carry.

  4. FightinBluHen51

    Great! I want my A-10 AND My Abrams to boot. Oh, and throw in a Bradly while we’re at it!!!

  5. Before 1968, people could buy anti-tank guns via mail order … and did.

    And that fracas in Lexington was started because John Hancock bought his friend, the local militia commander, a pair of cannon.

  6. Sean, when the Clinton ban passed, the local paper did a piece at a gun shop about two weeks before the start date. One of the families there(yeah, the whole family) hadn’t done any shooting in years, but decided to start again, and the father specifically said “They don’t want us to own one of these? Ok, I’ll buy it now.”

    They did. Along with a lot of other people. With the effect you note. Law of Unintended Consequences can be a bitch.

  7. The reason the colonists gathered to oppose the Redcoats at Concord was to prevent the Redcoats from confiscating their gunpowder, cannon and shot (cannonballs).

    Cannon were most definitely “arms” and protected by the Second Amendment, until we started listening to judges and politicians twisting the plain words of the Bill of Rights.

  8. Kristophr and Firehand,
    I was surprised to learn that as well. Of course in school we were always taught “Taxation with out Representation,” and “Intolerable Acts” and that sort of thing. The reality is that the colonists dealt with tax and fair representation issues for years without actually shooting anyone. It wasn’t until General Gage marched troops to take the weapons at Lexington and Concord that the colonists started shooting.

    It’s sad that I’ve been an adult for years and I’m only now in the last 5 years or so learning that the American Revolution wasn’t some dustup over taxes, but a battle over the right to keep arms.

  9. Pingback: Pro 2nd Amend quote