Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who survived a gunman’s bullet, still opposes gun control. Meet The Press host Chuck Todd asked him in a Sunday report if the 2nd Amendment was unlimited.
“The Second Amendment really predates the Bill of Rights,” Scalise said. “Our Founding Fathers believed strongly in gun rights for citizens. Frankly, they thought it was an assumed right. They didn’t put it in the Constitution because they didn’t think it would ever be in jeopardy, but ultimately, you saw attempts later on to take away gun rights, so they said it’s so important, we’re going to make it one of the ten bill of rights constitutional changes.”
When Todd pressed on him whether the Second Amendment was unlimited, he said yes. He argued that limits on the books should simply be enforced. No new gun control regulations should be created.
Scalise, a Republican, famously survived a shooting at the GOP practice for a Congressional baseball game on June 14. Authorities identified the shooter as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, who was killed by police. Social media activity showed that Hodgkinson hated the GOP.
As for the Second Amendment, that got ratified in 1791. Modern debate tends to be over whether 1) people today are interpreting it correctly, and 2) whether it’s a good idea to have in the first place. Proponents tend to balk at the creation of new regulations. Things like open-carry laws and minimal regulations enable people to better protect themselves in deadly situations, they say. Critics often say the Amendment is being misinterpreted by modern people, and that it was explicitly tied to the militias, which were typical back in the revolutionary period.
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.
The Supreme Court, however, treated gun ownership as an individual right in the 2008 decision of District of Columbia v. Heller, although even the late Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the 5-justice majority, said the Second Amendment wasn’t unlimited. From the decision:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. … Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
The federal government sale and transfer has regulated the sale and transfer of firearms since 1934.
The gun debate reignited last week after a gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, opened fire at a country music concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, and injuring at least 527. He was the 59th fatality–authorities say he took his own life. The motive remains under investigation. Paddock’s arsenal allegedly included a “bump stock,” which can be used to make semi-automatic rifles operate like fully automatic ones. These are legal, but after this, the most devastating mass shooting in U.S. history, there have been calls to make this illegal.
[Screengrab via NBC]