On March 13, CBS News contended that the meaning of the Second Amendment is still unclear and suggested it will be up to Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court replacement to help decide whether it refers to individual rights or collective rights for persons in the “militia.”
To arrive at such a position CBS News does two things: 1. They admit the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v Heller (2008) “affirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.” 2. They cast doubt on whether this decision can be the final by intimating that the real meaning of the Second Amendment is still in doubt among law school professors and members of various think tanks.
For example, CBS News used Michael Waldman’s The Second Amendment: A Biography to segue into a discussion about the kinds of rights protected by the Second Amendment. Waldman is the President of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, and he says the Second Amendment is “unusual” and “short” and “clogged with commas.” Waldman writes, “The Second Amendment says, ‘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.’ What does that mean?”
Again–the Supreme Court has been very clear about what it means. The justices were clear in Heller and clear again in McDonald v Chicago (2010). But Scalia was in the majority opinion in both cases and he is now gone.
So CBS News includes a quote from Patrick Henry which focuses on the militia. Henry said, “The militia, sir, is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it.” And they also point to gun laws that existed in certain cities at the time that the constitution was written, as if to suggest that “regulation” of gun rights has always been accepted as normal. And they quote Waldman discussing notes from the Constitution Convention, saying, “There’s literally not a word about it protecting an individual right for gun ownership for self-protection, hunting, or any of the other things we think about now.”
So yes, the Supreme Court has already spoken in Heller and McDonald, but that was then and this is now and the Second Amendment has a lot of commas in it. For these and other reasons, CBS News observes that no one knows “how the court might rule on future Second Amendment issues after the sudden death of Justice Scalia in February.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.