On Strict Interpretations

by David Velleman | 11/14/03 6:00am

To the Editor:

In regard to the Nov. 13 letter to the editor " 'Reasonable?' Gun Control?" by Mr. Rouzer against the idea of gun control on the basis of the wording of the Second Amendment, I urge him to read the Constitution.

Specifically, I would point him to the First Amendment, which states very clearly that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." etc. Even if one accepts the strict interpretation of the Second Amendment's "shall not be infringed" without the qualifying reference to a "well-regulated militia," the First Amendment's "Congress shall make no law" seems just as clear. Yet Congress has made laws abridging free speech that are necessary for the safety and well-being of the public. So, just as I can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded mall, I likewise can't bring an M-16 into a day-care center.

Tell you what, Mr. Rouzer: when gun activists start defending the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment with the same vigor as you have the rights guaranteed by a strict reading of the Second Amendment, then we'll talk. Until then, leave the grenade launchers at home.