In landmark decision, Supreme Court rules that guns don't kill people

Slavomír Čéplö bulbulthegreat at
Sat Jun 28 21:04:11 UTC 2008

Why guess if we can quote. Majority opinion, p. 14:

JUSTICE STEVENS points to a study by amici supposedly
showing that the phrase "bear arms" was most frequently
used in the military context. [...]  Moreover, the study's collec-
tion appears to include (who knows how many times) the
idiomatic phrase "bear arms against," which is irrelevant.
The amici also dismiss examples such as " 'bear arms . . .
for the purpose of killing game' " because those uses are
"expressly qualified."  Linguists' Brief 24. That
analysis is faulty.  A purposive qualifying phrase that
contradicts the word or phrase it modifies is unknown this
side of the looking glass (except, apparently, in some
courses on Linguistics).

And pp. 15-16:

But if "bear arms" means, as the petitioners and the dissent think,
the carrying of arms only for military purposes, one simply
cannot add "for the purpose of killing game."  The right "to
carry arms in the militia for the purpose of killing game"
is worthy of the mad hatter.  Thus, these purposive quali-
fying phrases positively establish that "to bear arms" is
not limited to military use.

Scalia is a stronzo, no doubt about it. But as much as it pains me (a
100% bleeding-heart-pinko-liberal-elitist-commie-treehugger) to admit
it, there is a lot more to this decision and some of Scalia's
arguments even make sense. Especially when it comes to his
interpretation of the phrase "keep arms" (which protects the
individual right) and his reference to Muscarello v United States and
Justice Ginsburg's interpretation of the phrase "carry firearms" and
"bear arms" ("....for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for
offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another
person") which do not imply the participation in a military
It could have been much easier had the Framers chosen a simpler
wording, like, say, the one in Tennesee Constitution of 1796: "That
the free men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for
their common defence." But, alas, they didn't. And so no matter how
much linguistic BS Justice Antonin 'Torture is not a punishment'
Scalia spouts ("no dictionary has ever adopted that definition"), as
someone who - unlike Scalia - believes in all individual rights and
opposes their curtailment by the state, I have to agree with the
spirit of that decision.
And now excuse me, I gotta go take shower. Or ten.


On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 7:50 PM, Robert Lawless
<robert.lawless at> wrote:
> Believe it when it comes from Scalia. He is one of the worse jerks in a
> government of jerks.
> Ronald Kephart wrote:
>> On 6/28/08 1:58 AM, "Dennis Baron" <debaron at> wrote:
>>    Always ready to insult those who disagree with his
>>    interpretations, J. Scalia called the linguistic analyses
>>    supporting the D.C. law "unknown this side of the looking glass
>>    (except, apparently, in some courses on Linguistics)" and "worthy
>>    of the mad hatter"
>> Dennis, Did he really say this? Do we really get this little respect?
>> Damn! No wonder my students don't believe me when I tell them AAVE is a
>> perfectly normal form of language. It's so weird that when I first read your
>> post I thought it was satire... Then I actually looked at the brief.
>> As I often say: We're all doomed.
>> Ron

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