Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Interpretations of the 2nd Amendment...

...are just fucked up and bullshit, as Atrios would say. Speaking of which, an Eschaton poster that often starts off the day at Atrios' blog, ql (have no idea who that is), offered a link to Hecate, whose blog post on the Aurora killings blew past anything I could say about the 2nd Amendment:
I will say this. When I was in law school (and it was many, and many a Moon ago) I learned two important rules of statutory construction. These are rules that they teach to lawyers to help them to figure out what various laws and regulations mean.
The first principle of statutory construction that I learned was that you have to read a statute in a way that, if at all possible, comports with the purpose of the statute. Thus, if, at the beginning of the statute, it says that the purpose of the statute is to, for example, protect consumers, you have to try and interpret that statue in a way that, you know, protects consumers. So if one side argues to the judge that the statute must mean X, but X would hurt consumers, and if there is another plausible meaning of the words, say Y, that would protect consumers, the judge should read and interpret the statute in a way that will protect consumers and should adopt Y as the correct interpretation.
The second principle of statutory construction that I learned was that you have to read a statute in a way that, if at all possible, gives meaning to all of the words. This is often stated, in the law, as reading the statute in a way that will not “render” any of the words in the statute as “surplusage.” In other words, you should try not to ignore any of the words that the lawmakers wrote. If there’s a reading that gives effect to all of the words, that’s the one that the judge should select, over a reading that would ignore some of those words.

Now, upon reading all the words of the 2nd Amendment, for practically all of my life I was struck by the obvious meaning that "Hey, dude, we encourage you to have a flintlock because we aren't going to have a gun for you if we draft you into our militia when the Indians come, or the Brits invade from Canada, or some other fucked up bullshit."
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
For the rest of it, just read Hecate's piece. She nailed it. What she had to offer was the statutory construction bit. Not being a  lawyer, I had never been exposed to the concept. Once one is, everything falls into place.

What's odd is that John Roberts left the PPACA (Obamacare) intact because he applied the logic of statutory construction, in as much as he fully interpreted the words of the statute in a way that allowed the law to stand: since Congress could enforce a mandate under its taxing power, the penalty for not having health insurance (if you couldn't afford it) is collected by the IRS, thus equating it for statutory purposes to a tax. Thus the law could stand.

Any interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that allows Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson, and the almost endless list of similar tragedies to occur is a deliberate act of misinterpretation of the wording of the Amendment. I also believe it to be either an act of cowardice, political or otherwise. I simply cannot find a justification for the carnage and mayhem we permit in our society. I'm, I just don't know, words fail me when I'm called to confront this folly.

I've written about the statistics that demonstrate how we're head and shoulders above all other developed countries in the amount of violence we permit to exist in the U.S., but Paul Krugman found a graph that illustrates the reality well:


I'm glad to see our overall violence come down, but really, we're horribly violent.

Gun presented to Sarah Palin by the NRA in 2009 as a tribute. (Not kidding.)

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