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Defining the right to bear arms

The Supreme Court has agreed to wade into the debate over gun control, said The New York Times, but the language of the Second Amendment clearly says that individuals don't have an unqualified right to bear arms. There's no doubt the Constitution says Ame

What happened
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear a challenge to Washington, D.C.’s, handgun ban—one of the strictest in the nation. The justices will have the opportunity to decide exactly what the Second Amendment means, and whether everyone—and not just members of a state militia—has the right to bear arms. (The Atanta Journal-Constitution)

What the commentators said
“A lot has changed since the nation’s founding, when people kept muskets to be ready for militia service,” said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). But the language of the Constitution hasn’t budged, and the Second Amendment says Americans have a right to bear arms because of the need for “a well regulated militia.” Let’s hope the court can “rise above the hard-right ideology of some justices,” and stick to what the Second Amendment actually says.

“There is no longer any doubt that the founders meant it to affirm an individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Timothy Wheeler in National Review Online. The Second Amendment is about guaranteeing Americans the “right to self-defense.” In a nation where criminals have high-quality handguns, there’s simply no “credible” argument to deny Americans this “most natural of rights.”

This might be a different matter if Washington’s “outright” ban on all useable guns had “saved any lives,” said The Washington Times in an editorial. But “the 1976 ban started no trend in the homicide rate, and it did nothing to calm the drug wars that began a decade later and continue to this day.”

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