Shoulder fired rockets (
by Steve Timmer
Jul 31, 2012, 11:00 AM

Because shoulder-fired rockets don’t shoot down airplanes

People do!

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.

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