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'Certain restrictions' on arms can be enforced

 Justice Antonin Scalia indicated that the right to bear arms is not unlimited.
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Date published: 1/20/2013

In the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, coupled with shootings in Aurora and the two-year anniversary of the shootings in Tucson, we again find ourselves in debate about how to curb violence in our society, and even whether it is necessary to do so. Various ways are being proposed, some including gun legislation and some not. Much of the discussion centered around gun legislation is related to the Second Amendment.

In a PBS "Newshour" interview on Aug. 9, 2012, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia stated: "[R]ead the opinion in Heller. It didn't purport to say everybody can carry whatever weapons he wants. In fact, it mentioned that there was a misdemeanor in ancient times called affrighting. Affrighting consisted of carrying a frightening weapon, a head axe or something like that, to scare people. So, it's clear that certain restrictions on the bearing of arms are traditional and can be enforced. What they are, it will have to be decided in future cases."

The opinion in Heller refers to District of Columbia v. Heller (No. 07-290), June 26, 2008. And, that's right, folks, this is the same Justice Scalia known for his conservative approach to law.

Elsewhere in the interview, Scalia responded to a question about the death penalty by saying "If the people really don't want it, pass a law, as many states have done."

So, if we really want "certain restrictions on the bearing of arms," as citizens, we can pass a law to that effect. The choice, the responsibility, and the consequences for our action, or inaction, belong to us and no one else--not the politicians, not the lobbyists. Inaction and indifference are also choices.

Alan Berry

Locust Grove