Second Amendment interpretation


Beau LaFave carried an AR-style handgun (description by Lansing State Journal) to the State of the State. LaFave’s AR-style weapon and a .40 caliber handgun were stolen in a burglary from his Lansing underwear drawer while LaFave was in the U.P. No money was reported taken. LaFave’s AR-style weapon ownership was not and is not protected by the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court has been the final authority on Constitutional interpretation since 1803. In 1939 the Supreme Court stated that the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment protected the right of states to form militias whose members would “bear arms.” The Court stated that the amendment intended to permit states to protect themselves and not rely on the national government. Miller was upended by Washington DC v Heller in 2008.

In Heller Justice Scalia wrote that, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Justice Scalia specifically indicated that Second Amendment permits banning firearm possession by felons and mentally ill people. It permits banning firearms from “sensitive places” like schools and government buildings. It permits the prohibition of carrying “dangerous and unusual weapons.” “Dangerous and unusual weapons” have been found to include assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Heller permits banning AR-style weapons.

Heller does stand for the idea that handguns kept at home and used for self-defense are protected by the Second Amendment. Government cannot require disassembly or trigger locks on handguns that are used for the purpose of self-defense because they cannot be used for self-defense when disassembled or locked. Presumably the government could require safety measures that permitted home handgun use for self-defense.

In a April 26, 2018 opinion in the Delaware Online Sean Barney, a Marine combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, wrote about his concern of gun violence. “I know why Nikolas Cruz’s (The Stoneman Douglas shooter) weapon of choice was designed. I know what it does to human flesh and bone. I know that, in a free country, no one should have to face the barrel end of one in civilian life & as veterans understand better than anyone, military assault weapons are specially designed for one purpose, and for one purpose only: killing human beings with ruthless efficiency and brutal effectiveness.”

LaFave’s weapons were not needed for self-defense because LaFave was not at his Lansing home. Now a felon possesses an AR-style weapon and a .40 cal. Now someone, perhaps a child, will face the barrel end an AR-style gun. LaFave is the poster boy for gun control laws. His careless behavior demonstrates a need to regulate these lethal weapons.

Richard Clark



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