Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Originally Posted by Charles Nichols
...Which case is more likely to win? Mine, which argues that the Supreme Court meant exactly what it said or the NRA/SAF cases which argue that the Heller Court was just joshing everyone when it said:
"Likewise, in State v. Chandler, 5La. Ann. 489, 490 (1850), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that citizens had a right to carry arms openly: “This is the right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which is calculated to incite men to a manly and noble defence of themselves, if necessary, and of their country, without any tendency to secret advantages and unmanly assassinations.”"
I don't see anywhere in any of the NRA/SAF carry case papers where it's suggested that the Court was "joshing" when it thus cited Chandler
And it's also clear that the reason the Court thus cited Chandler
, together with Nunn
and some other cases, in Heller
was to support the conclusion that historically courts have seen the Second Amendment as describing an individual right, but one subject to some restrictions.
Here is the full text of the second citation of Nunn and Chandler from the majority opinion in Heller
(pp 38 - 40, emphasis added, footnoted omitted):
...Many early 19th-century state cases indicated that the Second Amendment right to bear arms was an individual right unconnected to militia service, though subject to certain restrictions. A Virginia case in 1824 holding that the Constitution did not extend to free blacks explained that “numerous restrictions imposed on [blacks] in our Statute Book, many of which are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, both of this State and of the United States as respects the free whites, demonstrate, that, here, those instruments have not been considered to extend equally to both classes of our population. We will only instance the restriction upon the migration of free blacks into this State, and upon their right to bear arms.” Aldridge v. Commonwealth, 2 Va. Cas. 447, 449 (Gen. Ct.). The claim was obviously not that blacks were prevented from carrying guns in the militia....See also Waters v. State, 1 Gill 302, 309 (Md. 1843) (because free blacks were treated as a “dangerous population,” “laws have been passed to prevent their migration into this State; to make it unlawful for them to bear arms; to guard even their religious assemblages with peculiar watchfulness”). An 1829 decision by the Supreme Court of Michigan said: “The constitution of the United States also grants to the citizen the right to keep and bear arms. But the grant of this privilege cannot be construed into the right in him who keeps a gun to destroy his neighbor. No rights are intended to be granted by the constitution for an unlawful or unjustifiable purpose.” United States v. Sheldon, in 5 Transactions of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Michigan 337, 346 (W. Blume ed. 1940) (hereinafter Blume). It is not possible to read this as discussing anything other than an individual right unconnected to militia service. If it did have to do with militia service, the limitation upon it would not be any “unlawful or unjustifiable purpose,” but any nonmilitary purpose whatsoever.
In Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 251 (1846), the Georgia Supreme Court construed the Second Amendment as protecting the “natural right of self-defence” and therefore struck down a ban on carrying pistols openly. Its opinion perfectly captured the way in which the operative clause of the Second Amendment furthers the purpose announcedin the prefatory clause, in continuity with the English right:
“The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is, that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right, originally belonging to our forefathers, trampled under foot by Charles I. and his two wicked sons and successors, re-established by the revolution of 1688, conveyed to this land of liberty by the colonists, and finally incorporated conspicuously in ourLikewise, in State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann. 489, 490 (1850), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that citizens had a right to carry arms openly: “This is the right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which is calculated to incite men to a manly and noble defence of themselves, if necessary, and of their country, without any tendency to secret advantages and unmanly assassinations.”...
own Magna Charta!”
Note also in the foregoing that the Court cites a Virginia case, Aldridge v. Commonwealth
, and a Maryland case, Waters v. State
, each of which (1) holds that the Second Amendment describes an individual right; and (2) sustains law barring Black from possession firearms. Is the Court citing those case to suggest that such a limitation would be acceptable today?
Of course not. The Court said, explicitly, that all those cases, including Nunn
, were cited to show that (Heller, pg 38):
...Many early 19th-century state cases indicated that the Second Amendment right to bear arms was an individual right unconnected to militia service, though subject to certain restrictions....
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper