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Gun Rights Activists Say Gun Control Is Unconstitutional. Antonin Scalia Disagrees.
The Second Amendment is “... not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
When the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by gun owners of an Illinois ban on semi-automatic “assault” rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, lamenting that lower courts that uphold limitations on gun ownership have been ignoring Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment. That is curious since, in his ruling enshrining the individual right to own guns, Scalia himself all but invited such bans. The Illinois ban seems consistent with Scalia’s own precedent-setting language.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, Scalia himself explicitly allowed for and even seemed to invite reasonable gun control, writing:
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…” It is “… not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”
The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “... to consider ... prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”
Let’s consider that Supreme Court precedent-setting language in light of current gun control proposals, all of which are blindly opposed by the paranoid libertarian fringe of the gun rights movement that calls any effort to limit gun control unconstitutional. The following ideas for reasonable gun control currently being proposed are explicitly sanctioned by the Supreme Court as constitutional:
“… longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,”
“… laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,”
“… laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
(Like background checks, waiting periods, and closing the loophole that requires background checks on gun buyers in stores, but not on those who buy guns at gun shows (at which many stores set up and sell guns.))
Scalia also writes that the Supreme Court considers it constitutional for governments “... to consider ... prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”
And specifically as to the Illinois ban on military-style "assault" rifles and high-capacity magazines, Scalia seemed to allow for that too:
“… the sorts of weapons protected (by the Second Amendment) were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”
This seems to almost explicitly state that semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines are not constitutionally protected. Yet curiously Scalia now seems to infer that the Illinois ban on ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’ ignores the precedent of his own language in District of Columbia v. Heller.
Gun rights advocates protest that any of these limitations would be unconstitutional. They are simply wrong. The ruling that gives them the right to own guns is expressly “... not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
In the 1970s a handful of fanatical libertarians took control of the NRA in a coup and turned guns into a symbol of their absolutist demand for individual liberties. That symbol has been adopted by anybody upset that the government has too much control over their lives, which includes a lot of people with a more conservative political philosophy.
Yet the majority of Americans, including the majority of NRA members, support the idea of reasonable gun control, like the controls specifically sanctioned as constitutional by the Supreme Court. So why do the gun rights absolutists win? They care more. They are deeply upset that society that is changing on many values questions in ways they don’t like. They see these changes as signs that they don’t have control over their society and their lives and their futures. Powerlessness is scary. We all need a sense of control; we all need it to help us feel safe. The deep fear of gun rights extremists exceeds the general public’s fear of guns, either the personal fear of being shot or the general moral fear that innocent people will be shot. There is a passion gap, which is why the NRA is winning the political battle over gun control.
To counter that imbalance, the majority that wants gun control should start using Justice Scalia’s own ruling to demonstrate that being conservative does not mean rejecting any and all gun control. The concern that government has too much control over our lives does not mean, even to arch conservative activist Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia, that government can’t have any. And it is the very ruling on the Second Amendment establishing the individual’s right to own guns that says so.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.