Historical Empathy and Strict Constructionism: About Guns

Seems like a timely reminder in view of the bad news from Orlando . The Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms referred to a one shot musket firing a single lead ball (not an automatic machine gun that fires 10 shots a second) – we are all strict constructionists now –

Listening With Empathy

Putting ourselves in the situation of people who lived years ago in a different historical place and time is a challenge. For example …

BrownBessMusket Brown Bess, Single Shot Musket, standard with the British Army and American Colonies

When the framers of the US Constitution developed the Bill of Rights, the “arms” named in the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” referred to a single shot musket using black powder and lead ball as a bullet.

The whole point of the “strict constructionist” approach – the approach of the distinguished, now late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Feb 13, 2016 – is to understand what the original framers of the Constitution had in mind at the time the document was drawn up and be true to that intention in so far as one can put oneself in their place. While this can be constraining, it can…

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