Because shoulder-fired rockets don’t shoot down airplanes (reprise)
N.B. This is the republication of an item that was originally posted on July 31st. With all the calls for stricter gun control made in the wake of the killings in Newtown, Conn., it is useful, and sobering, to remember what we’re up against.
Update: And for doubters in the crowd, I offer this.
Ah, yes, nothing says FREEDOM! like your own personal arsenal of MANPADS (man portable air defense systems). Be the first one on your block to get one and keep your family safe from a second story man in a helicopter!
In a recent Fox News appearance, Justice A. Scalia gave us a glimpse into his own special brand of constitutional interpretation, musing that the Second Amendment (which he and his conservative pals already stretched beyond its original meaning in District of Columbia v. Heller) might well permit personal ownership of shoulder fired rockets:
Scalia’s across-the-board defense of weapon-carrying laws is not new, having been at the heart of his majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which protected an individual’s right to possess firearms. However, his nonchalant suggestion that private citizens could legally carry rocket launchers so long as they’re “hand-held” suggests just how willing he is to protect an armed nation.
Such originalism is a dangerous distortion of 21st-Century reality. There is no conceivable way to apply the Founding Fathers’ understanding of a ”well-regulated militia” armed with slow-to-load, hard-to-aim muskets to today’s weapon technology. Arguably, the full extent of alleged gunman James Holmes’ munitions could have easily decimated an entire brigade of musketeers before they’d even loaded their first ball.
Scalia believes the test is your right to own a weapon depends on your ability to carry it — to “bear” it, in other words. There’s no room here for consideration of a weapon’s lethality, dangerousness, or complexity.
One can imagine signs in gun shops: If you can carry it out the front door, you can own it!
In the shops are rocket-propelled grenades, bazookas, hand gernades, the aforesaid MANPADS, 50 caliber machine guns, fully-automatic rifles, etc. *
As the language from the linked Think Progress post suggests, Scalia’s “originalism” is dangerous and nutty. You can make an equally valid originalist argument that the Second Amendment only secures the right to bear muzzle-loading flintlocks.
* Update: As reader Craig points out, you might even be able to pick up a surplus Davey Crockett. The Davey Crockett was a “small” thermonuclear warhead that could be launched from a rickety tripod that could in turn be carried, set up, and fired by one soldier. Conceived during that wonderful, zany time known as the Cold War, it was deployed in western Europe to keep the Russkies out.
If you were the lucky operator of a Davey Crockett, you could expect that upon firing — if it didn’t fall off the tripod — it would land at its maximum range, 1.25 miles away. Depending on the wind, of course. Also depending on the wind, upon detonation, you might or might not be killed by the blast or the initial wave of intense radiation. I imagine that the operating instructions read something like this: 1) Confirm direction in which the Davey Crockett is pointed; 2) light the fuse; 3) run like hell in the other direction.
Sadly, nobody ever got to try one of these babies out, although 2100 were made, and as I say, some were deployed Europe. There must be some around in surplus stores: the perfect 2nd Amendment weapon.
Remember, kids, the children and grandchildren of the geniuses who thought up the Davey Crockett run the Pentagon even as you read this.
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