Guns again

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Came in to this message on my voicemail today:

“Yeah, Brian, I have a response to your Editor’s Note responding to R. Richard’s letter to you stating, ‘No disrespect intended’ and then a bunch of gobbledygook about the Second Amendment: George Mason, the co-author of the Second Amendment, clearly stated that the ‘militia’ meant ‘the people at large.’ It didn’t mean the state militias, and the Supreme Court has ruled as recently as 2010 that the states do not have the right to infringe on the individual’s ability to own those guns. So I expect a retraction or … I’m going to be looking at legal action against you. Do you understand? You better get it straight. We know who you are. We know what’s going on. You’re not going to pull this shit anymore.”

Yes, anonymous caller, I will acknowledge that I can find a few quotes on the Internet from George Mason on that topic. The quotes I’ve seen come mostly from the debate surrounding the 1788 Virginia Ratifying Convention. I’ve also seen arguments that the Second Amendment refered specifically to the state regulated “slave patrols” in Southern states, especially because George Mason, Patrick Henry and James Madison were all slave-owners. Here’s an article that lays out that argument: http://truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery. I can also find lots of quotes from people with loftier motives. But that’s not what I was talking about.

When I said, “this interpretation is hardly supported by history,” I meant there was no Supreme Court interpretation of an “individual right” until 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller and then the one you refer to, McDonald v. Chicago in 2010. That’s 220 years of historical data. My statement, “the Second Amendment … does not guarantee individual rights to own guns without regulation,” is still accurate.

Of course you know who I am. I believe this debate about guns in this country can be cordial.