Earlier this week the US Supreme Court handed down its momentous decision McDonald v. Chicago, which affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms. This is a case that will be long discussed in future federal court actions, along with legislative action at the state and local levels.
Justice Alito’s majority opinion should be a required history lesson for young students in high school. The left obsesses over the role of slavery in the American Republic but is noticeably silent when it comes to the role the Second Amendment played in the minds of mainly Northern Republicans during Reconstruction. While the leftist historian Eric Foner’s noteworthy Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, (which is the bible for liberal revisionism of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era) does have some passing references to the issue (and is referenced in the majority opinion), the role of firearms and liberty during Reconstruction is clearly outside the basic liberal narrative of US history. What a major breath of fresh air it was to see the majority opinion in McDonald refer to the historical role of the Second Amendment during Reconstruction.
This decision also got me thinking about a personal experience of mine back in 1994 when I worked for former Congressman Bob Livingston. Back in that day, the Congress was in the throes of anti-crime legislation and the so-called “assault weapons” ban. Mr. Livingston’s office was inundated with daily phone calls and thousands upon thousands of pieces of mail expressing opposition to these sorts of gun control bills. I would routinely take calls days on end and affirm Congressman Livingston’s steadfast opposition to gun control measures across the board.
However, one call I received has stuck with me and was on my mind when I heard the news coverage of the McDonald decision. The First Congressional District of Louisiana is centered in the suburbs of New Orleans but also includes more rural areas, including Washington Parish. One call I received in 1994 was from an elderly black man in the Franklinton area strongly opposing the gun control efforts of then President Clinton. He proceeded to give me a twenty-minute history lesson of his family in Washington Parish. As he spoke, emotion tinged with an almost tremble in his voice, he recounted how the only thing that kept his families’ property and even their own lives at times was ownership of firearms with ballistics stronger than many of the guns in the pending ban. While he agreed random violence had dissipated since the 1930s and the 1960s, he suggested history was littered with regression and the Founding Father’s knew this, a key reason for having the right to bear arms so clearly mentioned in the Bill of Rights.
I wish that I had a recording of this conversation so I could play it for liberal friends and acquaintances that are so fundamentally opposed to the Second Amendment and its role in the defense of liberty. Part of me hopes this man is still on this earth and was able to come across the majority opinion that uses a narrative, which is not just long ago history but something he has personally experienced. Its too bad the four justices in the minority opinion could not have heard that call, maybe they would have expressed empathy for the poor and downtrodden like President Obama always mentions when discussing federal court appointees. Somehow I doubt it. Working class people are just props in an ideological war for the left, if they do not fit the big government narrative than they are cast aside and ignored. Wherever you are, my friend, thanks for giving me a living account of history, firearms and liberty back in 1994. The lesson is never dated and five members of the US Supreme Court have not forgotten it either.