On an appearance on FOX News Sunday, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that “there are some limitations that can be imposed” on the Second Amendment and predicted “future” cases would come before the Supreme Court concerning gun control in which gun restrictions would have to be weighed “very carefully.”
Gun control is politically toxic for Democrats. Democrats in the Senate, despite the urging of their liberal cohorts to not let the tragic Aurora shootings go to waste in pushing for gun control, chickened out and said gun control measures will not be introduced.
President Barack Obama, a day after telling the National Urban League that he would push for a ban on assault weapons, abruptly changed his tune and flip-flopped. His White House spokesman said the Obama administration would not pursue gun control legislation last week.
Textual and originalist examinations of Scalia’s comments in the interview may suggest that Scalia, perhaps the savviest Supreme Court Justice, may be trying to bait liberals into pushing for gun control legislation during a crucial election year.
Scalia authored the opinion in the seminal and landmark Heller case that overturned a Washington, D.C. ban on handguns and has always been a staunch proponent of the Second Amendment.
In the interview, Scalia specifically said that the Second Amendment would not apply to “arms that cannot be hand-carried,” such as cannons and hand-held rocket launchers.
“Obviously, the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and ‘bear,’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided,” Scalia said.
So based on Scalia’s comments, hand-held rocket launchers which are similar to bazookas and can be used by terrorists to shoot down civilian airplanes may be subjected to reasonable limitations.
But his words and past opinions suggest anything short of that would not be subject to limitations.
His interview, though, could convince enough Democrats to pursue gun control legislation — to their political detriment in an election year — hoping that Scalia’s comments may signal a Justice who may go wobbly on gun control issues in the future.