From the volume of commentary and letters, two themes seem to be persistently on the minds of readers locally and across the country: the long-cherished right to bear arms and the assertion that the Second Amendment upholds that right. There seem to be constant reminders of how our freedoms were won by humble rifles.
Yet four times in our history, the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun. In 2008, the court ruled for the first time that the amendment protects an individual’s right to gun ownership. The famous "originalism" espoused by Justice Scalia was twisted, in this instance, to base his argument on contemporary conditions.
As we are all aware, the Second Amendment was intended to calm fears that the new federal government would crush the states’ militias, whose members were required to own a gun. Of course, we no longer maintain militias.
John Adams opined that "the Revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of 15 years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington."
I am not in any way suggesting the Continental Army and the militias had a minor effect on the Revolution’s outcome. But when the British forces laid down their guns at Yorktown in 1781, they surrendered to a combined force composed of nearly as many French as Americans — all paid, clothed and fed by France and supported by a commanding French naval fleet.
The larger shame, in my opinion, is that we seem unable to have a calm, reasoned and intelligent discussion about guns in our culture.