The Chicago Tribune carries on its all-fronts onslaught against the private possession of firearms on March 25th, 2008 with an editorial suggesting a number of things that simply aren't true.
In a fit of blogger laziness, I will just paste in my response:
To the editors:
Today, March 25th, 2008, the Tribune gave forth with an editorial taking a look, after a fashion, at the recently-argued Supreme Court case of Heller v. District of Columbia, the hugely important civil rights case concerning the Second Amendment in the Constitution's Bill Of Rights.
In it, the editorialist makes three mistakes, misapprehensions of what the underlying elements in this case are and what the law actually is.
Given that the Tribune rarely prints any sort of article on the subject of guns, gun rights, and gun law that does not contain significant errors of fact- look at the recent news article by reporter James Oliphant with its two factually incorrect elements, that the Constitution "gives" rights (it does not, and under American law, cannot), and that conventional wisdom holds that the "collective rights" interpretation of the Second is the correct one (it does not, not even among many leftists), one would not expect an editorial to be any more accurate. But accuracy is both critical and achievable.
The assertion that the opening clause of the Amendment, stating that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, somehow introduces an ambiguity into the operative clause, that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, is just plain a misreading of ordinary English. The first clause illustrates why the main clause is important, but does not, under any rule of grammar taught in centuries, alter or dim its rather boldly clear meaning. Even this somewhat common misinterpretation had been pretty well cleared from most of thoughtful society. How it survives in an institution filled with people supposedly highly educated in functional English is surprising.
The editorialist goes on to posit the "militia-dependant" interpretation, the one also used by DC to some extent in its suit.
When the editorial states that the militia in American law is the "18th Century equivalent of the National Guard", it betrays a serious lack of background knowledge. The militia is no such thing. The militia is actually carefully and specifically defined in American law in numerous places, not the least of which is the Militia Act, a still-operable Federal law.
Further, there is a mountain of law and scholarship given the definition of militia in America, and it can be easily boiled down to this: the militia is any voter.By “voter”, the implication is that the person is a citizen, an adult, and has not been denied any portion of his or her citizenship (by such as a felony conviction).
The concept of militia does not require organization by any governmental agency, it does not require any specific number of citizens, and it does not separate citizens from government as two different kinds of entities. Underlying this is the main, and most important concept of Americanism, which is embodied in the all-important preamble “We, the People.” In American thought, the people are the government. When that basic concept is absorbed, then the meaning of the militia and how all citizens are part of it, and responsible for the security of the state, becomes abundantly clear.
The editorialist goes on to almost wistfully say that one wishes one could go back and query "Madison and Company" as to what they really meant. There is a mountain of evidence and scholarship on what the Founders thought, said, and meant. The first and most basic resource is the Federalist Papers.
Beyond that, this miraculous assemblage of great thinkers put out huge volumes of correspondence on the subject of the new country and the Constitution they put together.
Their thinking on the subject of an armed citizenry could hardly be clearer, and given their incredible foresight and ability to distill fundamental human rights concepts into the most practical form of freedom-based governance in history, it still takes one’s breath away today. We urge that the Tribune take a little time to look into the subject before running articles that appear on this side of the newsstand to be unaware of the foundation of America law and American thought.