As the Supreme Court considered whether to review District of Columbia v. Heller (formerly Parker v. District of Columbia), the Brady Campaign posted on its website two more essays (in addition to three previously posted ones) faulting the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in that landmark case.
Brady’s argument now boils down to two things. First, never mind that the Second Amendment refers to “the right to keep and bear arms.” Never mind that federal and state militia laws in our nation’s early days required able-bodied males of age to keep firearms and ammunition at home. Never mind that the Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Miller (1939), described the militia as able-bodied males of age “bearing arms supplied by themselves.” The appeals court was wrong, Brady says, to read the Bill of Rights “as if the Second Amendment provided that ‘the right of the people to keep Arms and to bear Arms shall not be infringed.’”
Instead, Brady theorizes, the words “keep and bear arms” mean, “possess and bear arms,” and to do so only when serving in a militia.
Second, never mind that the right to arms existed hundreds of years before the Second Amendment was written, and never mind that the Supreme Court pointed out, in U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), that the Second Amendment protects a pre-existing right. And never mind that, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, rights are given to people by the Creator, and that people lend powers to government, not the other way around, a point reiterated in the first sentence of our Constitution. Brady theorizes that the Second Amendment does not protect a right of anyone to do anything, it merely grants a right, again, to have a gun while on-duty in a militia.
Implicitly, of course, “that which government granteth, government can taketh away.” That’s precisely what the District of Columbia has tried to do by banning the private possession of handguns, the assembly of a firearm into an operable condition within one’s home, and the carrying of a firearm within one’s home without a permit.