Thanks to Bearing Arms for pointing to Dick Metcalf digging ever deeperÂ whining about the premature demise of his career. He also shows a poor understanding of the standard model of the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment says the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, Metcalf noted, “not that it shall not be regulated.” Rather the first four words of the amendment, “a well regulated militia,” not only allow but mandate regulation.
We’ve been over and over this, again and again. The prefatory clause is simply a justification for acknowledging the right. There are other such prefatory clauses in the Constitution, such as:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
People have argued, in front of the Supreme Court, that the prefatory clause meaningfully modifies the nature of the power in question, and the Supreme Court rejected the idea. Only two justices tried to argue that the prefatory clause limited the power to only those things which promoted the progress of science and useful arts. The structure of the Second Amendment is nearly identical. The prefatory clause, which states the case for acknowledging the right, does not meaningfully limit it, anymore than the patent and copyright prefatory clause limits Congress’ power. That’s without even needing dissect the 18th century meaning ofÂ “well-regulated,” which in this case means regulated like a clock, and not regulated like a chemical plant.
“Everything is regulated, but everything is not infringed. Not all regulation is infringement. Is your right to drive a car being infringed by a speed limit?”
There is no right to drive a car. Some may say there ought to be, and I would be among those who would agree with that, but current law treats the “right” to drive a car on public roads as a “privilege.” If it was recognized as a right, things might be different. Also, a speed limit only regulates what you may do with a car. No one would argue the Second Amendment is so absolute as to preclude how one may employ a firearm. You have no Second Amendment right to rob a bank with a gun. No one would argue that you have a Second Amendment right to shoot across your neighbor’s yard, or shoot across a public road or waterway absent any exigent circumstances. That’s very different than some of the regulations Metcalf has advocated for, which would amount to a prior restraint when it comes to other rights.
Those are debates we can have. Some have argued that the prior restraint doctrine from First Amendment law might not be completely applicable to Second Amendment law, and I don’t see people calling for Dave Kopel’s career on a platter. The problem with Metcalf’s article, and his continuing statements in the media was/isÂ ignorance. I can point to numerous examples of people getting away with the kind of things he’s been saying without getting skewered. Metcalf’s problem is he’s adopted many of the shopworn arguments of our opponents. No one argues the Second Amendment is absolute, or that we could reasonably expect the courts to find it as such. There’s plenty of room to argue about this or that. But when you adopt the same rhetoric and tired arguments as our opponents, people are going to react badly. That’s what Metcalf did, and has been continuing to do.