Friday, August 10, 2018
For a while, such reasoning prevailed. But as with all great untruths, it was eventually done in by the weight of its contradictions and the scale of its delusions. The aberration in American history was not Heller but what immediately preceded Heller and passed for academic scholarship and judicial rigor in the middle of the 20th century. It was clear in the 18th century what the Second Amendment meant. It was clear in the 19th century, too. It was clear before ratification, at the time of ratification, and after ratification. It was clear before the Civil War, and during the drafting of the 14th Amendment, and to the postbellum segregationists who undermined it whenever they could. It was clear when almost every state added its own protections of the right to keep and bear arms and, in so doing, made a mockery of the idea that the right they were emulating had been born of a desire to limit federal power. There has been precisely one plot to recast the Second Amendment and, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, to “make it a blank paper by construction,” and that was the plot that flowered briefly in the middle of the 20th century. We must resolve to make sure that it never does so again.