From his fairly recent book, Lethal Logic, Dennis A Henigan, Vice President for Law and Policy at the Brady Campaign, dedicated an entire chapter to the 2nd Amendment.
He opens the chapter with a wonderful description of what I suppose is the origin of the famous statement, "from my cold dead hands." Charlston Heston is addressing the 2000 NRA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. To the ecstatic audience, holding a colonial musket above his head, he shouted what would become the NRA battle cry. Or perhaps he was repeating an already accepted statement, I don't know. Here's the youtube video I'm sure you've all seen.
I really can't believe anyone takes that rhetoric seriously. The self-aggrandizing talk which exaggerates the "peril" in order to all the more exaggerate our role in facing it, to me, is embarrassing. "When freedom shivers in the shadow of true peril, it's always the patriots who first hear the call." That sounds like a joke. The only thing funnier is that some people buy into it.
In Lethal Logic, Henigan maps out the history of the "militia" interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
"Prodigious historical research," he writes on page 191, "into the origins of the 2nd Amendment confirms that it was intended to address the distribution of military power in society, not the need to have guns for self-defense or other private purposes."
"Indeed, the judicial consensus on the meaning of the amendment had grown so strong that. in 1991, former Chief Justice Warren Berger - a conservative jurist who also was a gun owner - accused the NRA of perpetrating a "fraud on the American public" by insisting that the right to be armed existed apart from service in an organized militia."
And on page 193, "Heller in fact, is the new paradox of the gun control debate. In Heller, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court engaged in an unprincipled abuse of judicial power in the pursuit of an ideological objective. Not quite Bush v. Gore, but close."
Recently we've had occasion to hear these same points from another lawyer, a well known law professor actually, Cass Sunstein. And let's not forget Laci the Dog, who's covered the same material, albeit in a more controversial way.
What's your opinion? Are Henigan and Sunstein completely wrong? Is it not possible to disagree with their interpretation without denigrating them as either liars or idiots? Are they not educated men trying to share their ideas just like everybody else?
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