White’s support of gun ban rests on foggy interpretation of Second Amendment

To the Editor:

Every time Xan White writes about “constraining” the Second Amendment in his latest opinion piece “Guns, well-regulated, are the right of the People” (12/3), his readers must carefully keep in mind that he actually is supporting banning firearms altogether. This is what the DC v. Heller case is about and this is the proposition that he is supporting.

His opening claim about “people” being more than simply the plural form of “person” is patently absurd, especially given that every other part of the Bill of Rights defends an individual right. He also fails to mention that “well-regulated” historically meant “functioning,” as the militias during the time period often were not subject to any real governmental regulation at all. Furthermore, White claims that the Supreme Court has refused to incorporate the Second Amendment when in fact the Supreme Court has never had a case that has given them opportunity to do so.

Of course, White argues then for stringent gun regulation as a pragmatic matter of safety by claiming some prescient statistical knowledge that has allowed him to evaluate the necessary utilitarian calculus. However, economist John Lott, who was once a senior research scholar at Yale Law, carried out an extensive study of the FBI’s crime database suggesting that concealed-carry laws deter violent crime and gun bans embolden criminals. If White were to cite but one such study, his claims might take on the appearance of reasonable argumentation.

Finally, White claims that the debate is best left to our “elected bodies” rather than to our “unelected courts.” Of course, since the court system exists in part so that citizens may challenge unconstitutional laws, White’s advocacy is unclear. We would all do well to remember that the Bill of Rights was constructed specifically to prevent the encroachment of any laws passed by an overzealous legislature.

Julian Rajeshwar

Dec. 3

Rajeshwar is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.


  • Anonymous

    Joseph Story was an early U.S. Supreme Court Justice -- early enough to have met and spoken with some of the people who participated in the writing and ratification of the Constitution. In 1833 he wrote _Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States_. About the Second Amendment he wrote:

    "…the importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpation of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and ear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

    State have been allowed to infringe the 2nd Amendment by citing a 19th century Jim Crowe decision saying that the states are not bound by the Constitution's Bill of Rights -- only the federal government. As with the other Jim Crow laws, this was for the sake of oppressing blacks.

    For example, in 1941, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a white man carrying a pistol in his car's glove compartment in violation of the ban on concealed carry; Justice Buford asserted:

    "I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied. We have no statistics available, but it is a safe guess that more than 80% of the white men living in rural sections of Florida have violated this statute. It is also a safe guess to say that not more than 5% of the men in Florida who own pistols and repeating rifles have ever applied to the Board of County Commissioners for a permit to have the same in their possession and there has never been, within my knowledge, any effort to enforce the provisions of this statute as to white people, because it has been generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and nonenforceable if contested.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone seriously believe they can take up arms against this country's military industrial complex anymore? The amendment was passed to allow citizens to protect themselves from the government in the days of muskets and bayonets. How well does it stand up in the days of laser guided missiles? Fortunately, the founding fathers also left us with a representative democracy, our last and only weapon against abuses of power.

    So put the guns away, we're only killing each other with them.

    Luís Medina
    SY 09

  • LOL

    Yeah, there's no way a poorly trained militia can ever cause massive damage to a well-oiled American military.

    Unless they're Iraqis. Or Afghans. Or Vietnamese. Right?