The Right To Keep and Bear Arms: 101

Now that we’ve got a new Congress coming in, I know we’ll all feel a lot safer. Especially in bars and restaurants, where our fellow citizens are sure to be packing heat. Exercising those Second Amendment remedies. And they’ve got the fab five in the U.S. Supreme Court backing them up.

So what’s a timid wimp to do? You try sticking a forty-four magnum in your waistband and your pants are likely to fall down. That is if you wear pants. And ladies, that little pearl-handled .25 automatic in your purse just won’t cut it anymore. I’m no fashionista but now you’re going to need to shlep something a little bigger. Say a nine millimeter and a spare clip of ammo in a sequin rucksack.

By the way, do any of you know that if you miss what you’re aiming at the bullet can just keep on going? It doesn’t disappear like on T.V. or in the movies.

It may come as a shock to some but recent decision Heller v. District of Columbia concerning the right of citizens to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment has not overturned private property rights. It does not mean that you have to let any old shlub into your house when he’s packing a six-shooter.

Who is going to say that we can’t decide whether to let a gun-totter into our home? Or our factory? Is anyone going to argue that Ford or G.M. must allow private citizens bearing arms onto its property? That would include, oh fear of fears, union organizers. Not even Scalia is going to buy that as a right. The right to keep and bear arms doesn’t prevent General Motors from telling its employees, “Don’t bring a gun to work.”

And if our private property rights trump Joe Citizen’s right to bear arms on our property, then what about Starbucks? If they want, they can put up a sign saying “No shoes, no shirt, no firearms or no service.” And we have a right to say, “Listen Starbuckeroo, you want my business? Put up a sign that says “Gunslingers, get your caffeine elsewhere.” Or we will.

Under the First Amendment, we have a right to free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly.  If we want to, we can demand that businesses we patronize provide us with a gun free environment. I think most of us would think twice before bringing our kids or grandkids into a restaurant or store where the guy beside you can heft a revolver under his armpit. We can boycott those businesses that let someone pack heat. We don’t need  a law to do this. It doesn’t matter  what pro-gun lobbyists do. They can’t deprive us of our right to boycott businesses that encourage a gun-toting environment. Besides, it’s not such an onerous burden on the gun-carriers to leave their pieces in the trunk when they go out to dine.

That brings us to public places. All of us, except the most nutty of nut cases, recognize that the government has a lawful right to limit the keeping and bearing of arms on some public property. We know how the Supreme Court feels on that subject. Try bringing a loaded handgun into the Justice Scalia’s chambers and see how far you get.

Courthouses, legislative buildings, prisons and military bases are all public property but the Second Amendment doesn’t give us the right to pack a firearm in such places. The public has the right to make laws that limit the right to keep and bear arms upon public property.

It is clearly not beyond the power of the public to enact laws prohibiting the keeping and bearing of arms in public parks. Should people be allowed to carry guns in a children’s playground? I think the voters get to make that call and nothing in the constitution says they cant.

Recently Congress passed laws permitting guns in national parks proving it is a matter of legislation, not constitutional edict. We can prohibit carrying guns in our parks if we have the gumption to raise the issue, either through our legislature or by referendum.

So what’s all this bluster about a “Second Amendment remedy?”  The First Amendment gives people a right only to “peacefully assemble.” Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say that people have the right to violently assemble. You’d think that our Founding Fathers would have had a better grip on the English language than that, if they wanted to give us the right to be an armed mob.  That issue, assuming it even existed, was settled  in the Eighteenth Century when the Massachusetts militia put down Shay’s Rebellion and OMG! George Washington crushed the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania. So much for the old Second Amendment remedy bullshit.

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