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Did Scalia Suggest the Second Amendment Doesn’t Protect AR-15s?

by Kyle Wintersteen   |  July 31st, 2012 10

Antonin-ScaliaWe have seen the best and worst of what the Internet age can bring. On the bright side, not only are we more informed than ever, but the Internet can even save lives: If there’s a weather disaster, kidnapping or other emergency, we are immediately notified.

But on the other hand, the Internet hasn’t exactly improved journalistic integrity. What do you get when you take an incensed, politically polarized populace and give everyone access to the Internet? Millions of online stories written by amateur and professional journalists alike, all screaming for your attention, each seeming to make a more over-the-top claim than the last.

Case in point, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks on gun control during a rare interview on Fox News Sunday (his answer starts at about the 6:50 mark):

Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the historic D.C. vs. Heller case and, I believe, all he did during the interview was reaffirm the court’s decision: The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms; and there are possible limitations on that right, but it’s up to future courts to decide what those limitations may be.

“What the opinion in Heller said is it will have to be decided in future cases what limitations upon the right to keep and bears arms are permissible,” Scalia said. “Some undoubtedly are.”

Reporter Chris Wallace asked Scalia point blank whether semi-automatic firearms could be among the limitations.

“We’ll see,” Scalia said, unwilling to comment one way or another on an issue with no court precedent.

That’s the proper answer from a judge who takes his constitutional role seriously. And, if you ask me, there’s no real story here. But that’s neither a sexy opinion nor one that will win you a seat at the Internet’s Nutjob Table.

In an article entitled, “Scalia opens door for gun-control legislation, extends slow burning debate” makes the direct connection between Scalia’s non-statements, the gun control fervor created by the Aurora shooting and NRA opponents like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“His comments also follow those of lawmakers who have called for tougher gun-related laws in the wake of the shootings,” the report says. “Most recently New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Democrats who said Sunday they will introduce legislation this week to ‘make it harder for criminals to anonymously stockpile ammunition through the Internet’, as was done before the recent tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado.”

Scalia has been taken out of context by both other righties and, of course, left wings, by both amateur bloggers and the professional media, and the entire Scalia controversy is an example of everything that’s wrong with the current state of journalism. As pointed out by blogger Sebastian at, “The left is saying that Scalia is supporting a right to rocket launchers, and the right is saying he clearly believes we can restrict AR-15s and magazines. I think Justice Scalia is saying no such thing. He is saying it will have to be decided. This is simply fact. There are no tea leaves to be read here.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a shame that we are such a divided society that we whip ourselves into a frenzy at the mere mention of a controversial topic. And it’s disgraceful that journalists are so willing to play into it. When viewed without bias, the Scalia gun control story is really no story at all. It took sensationalized journalism to invent one.

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  • DLB

    A much needed clarification. Thank you

  • Joel

    Thank you for this well written, articulate and even-handed article. So much of what is written today on all sides of the gun control issue is nothing but a reflection of the mass hysteria that seems to grip some people whenever this topic is mentioned, but Guns and Ammo appears to take a very civilized and reasoned approach to it's discussion of the subject and I applaud you for this.

  • Karl

    As you say here, Scalia said nothing to warrant even the hyped up Fox news headline. If you take what he said here together with the Heller decision, he is not at all suggesting a new wave of gun control. What he is saying is States have some say so in it, like concealed carry for example. If the feds attempt a ban on concealed carry, you can just as well interpret what he says here to mean he would side with the states. It cuts both ways. Like he said, we'll see.


    their are more people killed in car accidents,and cigarette smoking, and cancer than with guns but if one person or more than one the news people and politacians go into a feeding frenzy when a gun is involved.

    • Jerry

      Mr. Vince: I don't see how people getting killed in car accidents, etc., have to do with at least 1 person getting murdered by a gun. One is an accident (usually) and the other is deliberate. When I carried a gun while on duty, I was extremely careful about my decisions. JR

      • Karl

        His point is they want to make it a "public health" issue where no one is responsible but we are all responsible. Applying that logic in a prioritized format would ban a lot of things before guns. To his "credit" Mayor Bloomberg is already working on the rest of the list.

        Truth is gun control is about jealousy of power and the retention of it by we the people. It is that simple.

      • Miguel

        Sir, driving while under the influence, speeding, driving while distracted (I.e., texting, playing with the radio or applying makeup), etc are not accidents. As an officer you know that so your comment is nonsensical. They are choices…just like robbing a grocery store, breaking and entering, et al. Society does not hold them to the same standard as a gun crime though the results are eqally if not more devastating. The major difference is that when a firearm is used as a tool of choice there is already a law on the books attempting to prevent the act. Therefore, the use of a gun is already a criminal choice and a choice law abiding citizens would not make and therefore should not be lumped into the same category. Calling an "accident" as such assigns no responsibility when in fact true accidents rarely exist. Choices were made and in many cases they are criminal, just like robbing a store. For my money I would prefer the legislature focus on enforcing existing firearm laws instead of generating more restrictions that only serve to restrict those that weren't a threat to begin with. Oh and they might try to influence the president to enforce immigration laws, as well. That would curb both gun and non-gun crime considerably. Don't take my word fr it…look up the statistics. Try the state of California statistics first as they have the most restrictive gun laws and therefore can be used as an excellent test case for the ineffectiveness of gun laws as well as the ineffectiveness of open immigration.

      • knighttemplar01

        It has always been a mob favorite to murder by vehicle, either appear drunk[before dui laws became tough] now its hit and run. How about medical mistakes 120k a year estimated die by medical misadventure and diagnosis. Your response is typically liberal and irrational. And I might add unarmed citizens are slaves [and or] serfs to the politicians, and potential victims to predators.

  • guy 2

    all i know is it sad to finally know that the NRA doesn't care about Californias gun rights
    see if i pay my dues ever

  • knighttemplar01

    The supreme court became totally politicized and irrelevant, on the day it upheld obamacare. We have 537 elected and 9 appointed idiots and criminals dictating to 311 million Americans, truly the tail wagging the dog. The founders anticipated our current political turmoil[to many freeloaders draining the treasury] and unsustainable debt. We need a reset, and a return to the values of the republic.

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