March 30, 2007
THOUGHTS ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT, from Jonah Goldberg:
Of course, there has always been a minority of liberals whoâ€™ve shown a willingness to admit, often reluctantly, that the Constitution can approve of something they disapprove of. Liberal journalist Michael Kinsley famously quoted a colleague as saying, â€œIf liberals interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the rest of the Bill of Rights, there would be law professors arguing that gun ownership is mandatory.â€ And in 1989, Sanford Levinson penned a Yale Law Review article tellingly titled â€œThe Embarrassing Second Amendment.â€
Such honesty has proved contagious. As Brookings Institution scholar Benjamin Wittes chronicles in the current edition of The New Republic, various liberal legal scholars have come to grudgingly accept that the Second Amendmentâ€™s meaning and intent include the individual right to own a gun. â€œ(T)he amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification,â€ writes no less than the dean of liberal legal scholars, Laurence Tribe. Tribe had to update his textbook on the Constitution to account for the growing consensus that â€” horror! â€” Americans do have a constitutional right to own a gun. Itâ€™s not an absolute right, of course. But no right is.