March 19, 2008

"Hostile" Indians justify guns

Indians and wolves and bears...oh my! Justice Kennedy uses a Native stereotype to justify the right to bear arms.

Justices Appear Skeptical Of D.C.'s Handgun BanThe clauses of the Second Amendment--"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"--have long vexed constitutional scholars. The Supreme Court's last major ruling on the subject, in 1939, stressed the militia-related aspects of the provision.

Roberts quickly signaled his disagreement. "If it is limited to state militias, why would they say 'the right of the people'?" he asked.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, often the deciding vote on the divided court, was next. "In my view," he said, "there's a general right to bear arms quite without reference to the militia either way."

Kennedy expressed, at least three times during the argument, his disbelief that the Framers had not been also concerned about the ability of "the remote settler to defend himself and his family against hostile Indian tribes and outlaws, wolves and bears and grizzlies and things like that."
Comment:  Some Indian tribes were hostile, of course...for good reason. Many weren't.

Love how Kennedy equates Indians with vicious criminals and wild animals. Can you say "racist," judge?

For more on the subject, see Savage Indians.

I covered the 2nd Amendment in depth in A Well Regulated Militia.... Why? Because our fascination with guns is part of our myopic American perspective. We see enemies hiding behind every tree: first Indians, then Communists, and now terrorists.

Bottom line is that it doesn't matter if the Supreme Court rules that the 2nd Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms. As long as it doesn't eviscerate the supporting clause about a well-regulated militia. Because regulating guns is and should be legal even if people can own them.


dmarks said...

I love the illustration. I can't recall, though, any Roland's victims in this incident was anything likea Native.

Maybe Justice Kennedy has a good argument, but should have been applied to the need for Indians to keep and bear arms in the face of hostile white settlers.

Rob said...

The illustration covers the bit about how "our fascination with guns is part of our myopic American perspective."

It's true that Indians adopted guns to keep up with the endless waves of white settlers. Kennedy could've spun a whole argument out of that. Instead he chose a stereotypical and arguably racist argument.