Many years ago, cartoonist Rex F. "Baloo"
May and I tried to sell a daily comic strip to
the newspaper syndicates called Atlantea the
Beautiful. Ostensibly, it was about the final
days before Atlantis sank beneath the waves, but
it was actually a satire of contemporary American
politics, being written and drawn during the George
H.W. Bush Administration.
What's significant about it is the way we portrayed
the Atlantean Supreme Court: nine old men in black
dresses sitting atop a giant slot machine, as
lawyers below jump up absurdly to pull the lever.
Judging from the reactions in the media to the
real court's decision to accept a case about the
right to own and carry weapons, Rex and I were
A word here, first, about that right.
Despite the pathetic lies of ideological opponents
to individual weapons ownership and the act of
self-defense, what the Founding Fathers intended
the Second Amendment to express is abundantly
clear. All that anybody needs to understand it
is to put himself in their position.
Imagine that you (as one of the Founders) have
just astounded the world -- and probably yourself,
as well -- by defeating the biggest, richest,
most powerful and ruthless empire that our species
has ever witnessed, in your fight for independence
from it. You were able to do this because all
but the poorest household in your tiny country
was armed with a straighter- and farther-shooting
weapon than the enemy possessed.
The last thing on Earth you ever want to see
is your children, or your children's children
back under the thumb of that brutal tyranny. If
Imperial armies can be beaten by private armament,
you can answer the question yourself: what do
you want the Second Amendment to mean?
And, as a Founder, would you really agree that
a right like this, "necessary to the security
of a free state", can be regulated by the
very entity that it may become necessary to defend
one's family against?
Would it even occur to you -- especially since
the Revolution started when the government attempted
to confiscate privately-owned weapons -- to write
a Constitutional amendment guranteeing to the
government, not the individual, the right
to keep an bear arms? Precisely how stupid or
crazy do gun prohibitionists think everybody is?
And precisely what do these high-tax, anti-property
rights schemers have planned for us, that they
don't want us able to defend ourselves?
The present case, District of Columbia v. Heller
-- not that the specifics actually matter -- is
all about the District's outright prohibition
of pistols and revolvers, and its ridiculous insistence
that rifle and shotgun owners dismantle their
weapons and lock them up. What's against the law
in D.C. -- and it's perfectly apparent in that
city's violent crime rate -- is not so much firearms
themselves, but the successful act, always embarrassing
to those in authority, of self-defense.
After all, If Americans can successfully defend
themselves, then they'll need many fewer police
officers, and hardly any bureaucrats at all.
But as many writers have already observed, there's
a lot more at stake here than just another interpretation
of the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association
believes (and for once in a very long while, I
agree with them) that it was a strategic error
of the highest magnitude to trust the right of
the people to keep and bear arms -- or any other
right, for that matter -- to a deeply-flawed body
like the court.
Go to: http://tinyurl.com/2rhfdb
The Second Amendment is "merely" one
of ten, the first amendments to be added to the
then-new American Constitution. Together, they
comprise what is generally known as the Bill of
Rights. They are the highest law of the land,
and they were the price Alexander Hamilton's Federalist
Party -- those individuals who desired "a
strong central government" -- was made to
pay by Thomas Jefferson's Anti-Federalists, before
the latter would consent to the entire Constitution
It was considered a package deal.
Thus any Supreme Court ruling weakening the Second
Amendment is, by logical necessity, a ruling weakening
the other nine amendments, as well. And any ruling
against the Bill of Rights -- that undoes the
deal between Federalists and Anti-Federalists
-- undoes the whole Constitution.
So, I pretend to hear you ask, what? Isn't the
U.S. Constitution just an old scrap of paper --
as our Glorious Leader contends? Also, isn't it
hopelelessly outdated, utterly obsolete in this
age of iPods, nuclear power, Palm Pilots, wireless
Internet communication, and spaceships?
Not exactly. To begin with, it isn't really paper,
it's parchment -- animal skin -- and the main
body of the Constitution is the working charter,
the operating system, if you will, for the strong
central government that Hamilton and his Federalist
buddies wanted so badly. Without it, you have
no government -- at least no government operating
by the consent of the governed -- just as, without
an actual operating system, all the computer hardware
in the world is merely worthless junk.
Thirty years ago or so, I predicted that, if
the Supreme Court ever rules against the Second
Amendment, that will be the end, not of the Second
Amendment, but of the Supreme Court. It should
be clear now that, without the rule of law --
without a legal government -- there's no need
for a Supreme Court. All that we have left is
a dictatorship, running on terror and brute force.
Maybe that's what those currently in power actually
want, but the age in which an arrangement like
that is stable has been over for quite a while.
It is most likely to come to an end more quickly
than its proponents anticipate, and also very
Goodbye to the Second Amendment, goodbye to the
United States of America.
Is the court likely to understand all that? I
don't know. Despite their august public image,
they are hardly rocket scientists or brain surgeons.
It's important to remember that what they are
is lawyers, and, if my information about
how lawyers become judges holds water (they mostly
get "kicked upstairs" so they won't
be an embarrassment to the firm), not very good
ones. The 1856 Dred Scott v. Sanford case
is early evidence of that.
In 1918, despite the clear language of the 13th
Amendment outlawing "involuntary servitude
of any kind", the court upheld the draft,
saying it was a necessary part of the Constitutional
power of Congress to raise an army. Apparently
the dullards sitting on that particular court
were unaware that amendments invariably supercede
whatever was written in the main body of the document.
If this were not so, Bill Clinton and George Bush
would be free to run for a third term.
Go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription
Apparently George Orwell didn't invent Orwellian
language. What the court actually said was: "Finally,
as we are unable to conceive upon what theory
the exaction by government from the citizen of
the performance of his supreme and noble duty
of contributing to the defense of the rights and
honor of the nation as the result of a war declared
by the great representative body of the people
can be said to be the imposition of involuntary
servitude in violation of the prohibitions of
the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to
the conclusion that the contention to that effect
is refuted by its mere statement."
In other words, "It isn't involuntary because
we say it isn't".
The year 1939 brought us the deeply bungled case
of U.S. v. Miller, in which, among other
things, the court ruled that short- barrelled
shotguns, which had been effectively outlawed
by the Roosevelt Administration in 1934, were
to remain illegal because they had no military
application, and therefore were not protected
by the Second Amendment. This pronouncement must
have come as a surprise to the veterans of World
War I who had relied on short-barrelled shotguns
-- military issue and otherwise -- to keep their
trenches free of "Huns".
Go to: http://www.jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/miller.htm
More recently, we have Kelo v. City of New
London (2005), which, if taken seriously,
spells the end of private property in America.
The court held that a municipality (and by extension,
a county or state) is perfectly free to steal
a private individual's real estate and hand it
over to some other private individual or corporation,
if the city gains more tax revenue from whatever
new use the real estate is put to.
Go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London
It appears that throughout its long, awkward,
anchorless history, the Supreme Court is simply
willing to do the dirty work that
politicians can't get done (or don't want to be
seen doing), themselves.
Now this same cross-dressing gaggle of criminals,
idiots, and lunatics who slipped Dred Scott the
purple shaft, cancelled out the Thirteenth Amendment,
gave government a green light to infringe on your
right to own and carry whatever weapon pleases
you, and decided that whatever you own is up for
grabs by any crook or corporation that can bribe
a city councilman, is about to decide whether
or not -- like any other man, woman, and responsible
child -- you have an unalienable individual, civil,
Constitutional, and human right to obtain, own,
and carry, openly or concealed, any weapon, rifle,
shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything,
any time, any place, without asking anyone's permission.
People within the general freedom movement complain
all the time about the "Nanny State".
Now we're all about to learn who the real nannies
are: those nine old men and women sitting atop
that giant slot machine.
Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith
has been writing about guns and gun ownership
for more than 30 years. He is the author of 27
books, the most widely-published and prolific
libertarian novelist in the world, and is considered
an expert on the ethics of self-defense. His writings
may be seen on the following sites: