bill of rights
The debate over whether the accused Underwear Bomber should be tried in a defendant-friendly federal court instead of by a more rigorous military tribunal got me to reflecting: just who was the 100 percent-American Bill of Rights drafted to protect in the first place? Terrorists? Does the reach of the flag-wrapped first ten amendments extend to a radical Nigerian Muslim like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to blow up an airplane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit? He’s not even a citizen of the United States. Just what claim does he have to the Bill’s red-white-and-blue benefits to begin with?
First Amendment protections often get cited — speech, religion, the press, assembly and petitioning government. And most folks know the Second Amendment gives them the right to “bear arms.”
I sat in a barbershop in downtown Bowling Green, Ky., Saturday and listened to patrons talk about the Jaycees’ Christmas Parade the week before.
Not nearly the number of people attend anymore, said the shop’s matriarch.
You cannot throw candy anymore, her colleague behind chair No. 1, said.
“Someone complained about throwing it, so you have to hand it out now,” she said.
“You’re lucky you can even hand it out,” I said. “Many cities don’t allow that anymore — safety issues.”
Before the court are twenty-nine words and three commas: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” How you diagram the sentence determines the amendment’s meaning.
The shoot-out between gun-control forces and gun-rights defenders moves into the Supreme Court when its justices hear oral arguments March 18, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller . They’ll consider whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms or whether it merely protects a collective militia right.