We are in the middle of another round in the effort to scuttle the right to keep and bear arms. Justice John Paul Stevens, while on the Supreme Court and since retirement, has urged interpreting the Second Amendment as an individual right to keep and bear arms “while in the militia” or some such. This renders the right empty and ultimately incoherent. (Try to imagine the right Stevens proposes and you get zero. As the majority in D.C. v. Heller stated bluntly in 2008, it is nonsense to talk about a right to keep and bear arms within an organization from which Congress has plenary authority to exclude you.)
Also jumping into the fray is Michael Waldman, whose “biography” of the Second Amendment uses the militia conversations during the ratification debates of the late 1780s to accuse the 20th century National Rifle Association of inventing the individual right to arms.
There is so much wrong here that it may take several posts to unwind. This post will focus on the basic mischaracterization of our constitutional scheme of rights and powers and how unbridled federal power perverts our conception of rights.
Jeffrey Toobin’s recent article in The New Yorker, “Clarence Thomas’s Disgraceful Silence,” is itself disgraceful. Toobin noted that, as of February 22, eight years have passed since Justice Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. Toobin finds Thomas’s silence “bizarre” and “downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.”
Corporate social responsibility: What is it? Dwight Lee candidly attempts to answer this question in his feature essay this month at EconLib: Even if . . . motivated by generosity, many American corporations do not seem completely convinced that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Indeed, the evidence suggests they are far more enthusiastic about receiving than about giving. According to a 2012 Cato Institute study, American businesses were budgeted to receive almost $100 billion dollars of taxpayers' money from the federal government in fiscal year 2012. The Hope of Churchill. In Law and Liberty's Books section, Justin Lyons…
We now have a view of the new gun control proposal that some have labeled Diane Feinstein’s Grand Plan. Grand? Feasible? Passible? That remains to be seen. What is plain and predictable is that Feinstein’s proposal illustrates the structural inadequacy of supply control policies that attempt a purely public response to an intensely private crisis.
The impulse here is the horror in Connecticut. A moment’s reflection shows that Feinstein’s plan is basically non-responsive. The main worry from Connecticut is not that an incomprehensively mad, damaged (one searches for something more here) young man, killed with an AR-15. At one level we all know that virtually any sort of firearm and a variety of other deadly weapons are easy substitutes against the helpless.
But that is a difficult thing to say in this climate and it does not satisfy people who are hurting. And that hurt is very much a driver here. The pain from Newtown is intense. Many people desperately seek something to ease that pain and affirm that our society, our culture, are not irretrievably off the rails. For those under the delusion that the state can stop imminent violent threats, Feinstein’s supply side gun control proposal will have appeal.