Writing over the weekend at CalMatters, a California surgeon asserted, “The answer to America’s firearm injury epidemic must start with rewriting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.”
Dr. John Maa practices medicine at the MarinHealth Medical Center in Marin County. He served as an Army officer during Desert Storm, but in writing his nearly-700-word Op-Ed, he appears to have overlooked the landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which affirmed the Second Amendment protects “an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.” This is spelled out in the syllabus of the ruling, authored by the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
According to its website, CalMatters is “a nonpartisan and nonprofit news organization bringing Californians stories that probe, explain and explore solutions to quality of life issues while holding our leaders accountable. We are the only journalism outlet dedicated to covering America’s biggest state, 39 million Californians and the world’s fifth largest economy.”
Dr. Maa wants a nationwide movement to rewrite the amendment via a constitutional convention. He says the movement could begin in California.
The good doctor looks at the text of the amendment, then observes, “Constitutional scholars have long wrangled over comma placement in the wording of the Second Amendment. They question whether the right to bear arms is linked to the maintenance of a well-regulated militia. A 28th Amendment could define what a militia means today, and clarify what ‘well-regulated’ should signify.”
But Heller already answered that question, and it is not Scalia’s fault, nor anyone else’s, these scholars don’t get it. As noted in the syllabus, “The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.”
And, on Page 23, Justice Scalia wrote “the adjective ‘well-regulated’ implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.”
Well into his article, Dr. Maa describes anti-gun Rep. Eric Swalwell and Sen. Dianne Feinstein as “firearm safety champions.” Any Second Amendment activist would quickly correct this description by explaining that both Golden State Democrats are gun prohibitionists, for what else could proponents of banning an entire class of firearms be called?
Dr. Maa also states, “The nation’s founders never could have envisioned internet firearm sales, ghost guns and the evolution of muskets and pistols into lethal assault rifles that pervade our nation more than 200 years later.”
For that matter, they never could have envisioned the internet at all, nor broadcast news, the web-offset press, television, radio, motion pictures; all developments with First Amendment protections. Simply because something came along more than a century after the Bill of Rights was enshrined does not preclude its proper constitutional protection. Besides, muskets and pistols were the “assault weapons” of the era which gave us the Constitution.
As Dr. Maa points out, “Amending the Constitution requires either a convention requested by two-thirds of the state legislatures, or an amendment approved by two-thirds of both houses of Congress. The proposal must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states.” With the majority of the states having right-to-bear-arms provisions in their own state constitutions, trying to re-write the Second Amendment might require a miracle.