Sunday, July 29, 2012

Duck Hunting at the Airport

"Obviously the [Second] Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes. That will have to be decided." 

                            - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on "Fox News Sunday," July 29, 2012

"Just duck hunting out at the airport."

I will be the last person to insist that any American citizen of any stripe - fundamentalist, evangelical, Buddhist, Baptist, capitalist, anarchist, atheist, supremacist, survivalist, or just barking mad - should be denied the right to carry unnecessarily dangerous, technologically advanced, military-style assault weapons. "Carry," as in "bear." As long as you can carry it, you can bear an arm. It's your right, as Justice Scalia said. (He also said that if Americans cannot be mandated to buy brocolli, they can't be mandated to buy insurance. Which clearly shows, I think, the breadth and scope of his legal mind.)

 "Guy with the brocolli? Shit, I lost 'im."

Unlike my neighbor Zeno and the lion's share of my fellow citizens, I am not an amateur Constitutional scholar. I have no opinion on the question whether this right is contingent on the larger social institution of maintaining a "well regulated militia," or whether it is a right simpliciter, given without prior condition by a benign and trusting God to all his (American-only) children without regard to creed, intellectual and moral competence, mental soundness, medical and criminal background, list of current medications, knowledge of the general workings of a gun, or training in the use thereof. All you have to do, in short, is be able to pick it up.

 "I got a herd here - how many pounds do you want?"

Right thinking Americans will anticipate a liberal outcry at Justice Scalia's interview with Chris Wallace earlier today. The problem is not, as usual, all that serious. I know this because any internet search of "grenade launcher" turns up a host of virtual warfare wikis in which virtual grenade launchers destroy only virtual landscapes, virtual rooms in virtual buildings in virtual cities. Virtual grenade launchers do not kill virtual people. Virtual people do. And video games, as our liberal friends already know, are protected free speech.

 Virtual room destroyed by virtual grenade launcher

So I guess, as I said earlier, just being able to pick the thing up is the same as "carrying" it? I mean, say you picked it up but then it was too heavy to walk with it. You picked it up but you couldn't take a step, like a Russian weightlifter who forgot to take his steroids. Would that be carrying it? Or just "picking it up?" And are they the same?

Forgot his steroids

Here lies a slippery slope, Antonin my boy. Could I wheel a 50-gallon drum of fertilizer bomb into my anger management class on a furniture dolly and be said to legally bear arms? I guess we'll have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule on that.

Michael Tomasky, writing in the Daily Beast, had the last word on Antonin Scalia: "In the 1960s, Nino Scalia would’ve ended up teaching at Notre Dame law school (where he belonged) — a crackpot speaker on a marginal rubber-chicken circuit that mainstream America could have blissfully ignored, instead of sitting on the highest court in the land imposing his 16th-century will on the rest of us."

 "Go ahead - make my day."

UPDATE: In case anyone thinks I just make this stuff up, the LA Times for December 28, 2012 carries a report of two rocket-propelled grenade launchers surrendered to the LAPD in a gun buyback program.

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