Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Perception, Reality, and US vs. Miller

Ask the average semi-learned individual, or court reporter about US vs. Miller and they will dutifully recited that it is the 1920's decision that granted the federal government the right to regulate firearms sale, ownership, and production. They will likely claim its the end of the line for the individual right to bear arms. They will say all of this... without ever having read the decision for themselves. They will simply repeat what they heard someone else say about it.

Who can blame them... I mean... how many of us take the time to read Supreme Court Decisions?

OK well... this is a poor group to pose that question too... obviously we do... but come on... Average Joe knows only what the box or headline tells him. Even if he does read an article or two on it... he'll still only have only a reduced view of the matter. I mean reduced in the culinary sense of course...

That's perception. So what about reality?

In reality... Mr Miller found out about the then new Federal Firearms Act and got pissed about it. He knew full well that it was unconstitutional... so he went and cutoff his shotgun to short... and dared someone to arrest him for it.

Of course... they did.

On appeal after appeal after appeal... the matter finally reached the Supreme Court. Interestingly... by this time... Mr Miller had been in jail long enough that he was both broke, and broken.

If you can imagine this... the man's attorney didn't even argue before SCOTUS.

In spite of this... what came down was still a resounding victory for individual gun rights... but that's not how it was spun by the press.

What the decision said specificly was that since a shotgun had no military value, the government could then regulate it. They even acknowledged that the only reason they concluded that it had no military value, was that no evidence was offered to the contrary. It should be noted that the military at the time made grand use of shotguns all over the world.

The decision stated clearly that the government could only regulate weapons that had no military value, and therefore, all weapons that had military value were covered by the second amendment. This is indeed a learned view of the Second Amendment, as it is indeed all about the military... and the citizens need to be just as well armed as it is.

So according to US vs. Miller... we can own tanks... jets... missiles... indeed, thermo-nuclear weapons... and the US government has no power to say anthing about it. But the effect was the exact opposite.

No one read the opinion... they just read what the reporters said.

So.. the next time some punk liberal lectures you on your right-wing extremism... point to US vs Miller... and remind him that according to the most recent Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment... its perfectly legal for you to buy an ICBM.

No comments: