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
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.
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.