Charlotte Lane, a Republican running for West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District seat, evidently raised eyebrows Monday, with her affirmative answer to the question of whether or not the Second Amendment protects the right to own "bazookas." The occasion was her appearance on the Hoppy Kercheval Talkline radio show. Kercheval started with the more general question of what the Second Amendment means to her. From the Morgan County, USA news blog:
“The Second Amendment means that we have a right to bear arms,” Lane said. “I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I am a member of the NRA (National Rifle Association). And I will not do anything that will diminish the Second Amendment protections that we have under the constitution.”
Fairly unsurprising boilerplate so far, for a West Virginia Republican. But then Kercheval asked her about limits (shall not be infringed being a bit too ambiguous for him, evidently) on the Second Amendment, and to Lane's credit, she answered that she was not "aware of" any. That set up up Kercheval's next question:
Kercheval then asked — “so I could have a bazooka?”
“Yes,” Lane answered matter of factly.
Kercheval later defended that line of inquiry as "not a trick question," and that's fine--people running for political office should be asked specific, tough questions about the policies they would attempt to advance while in office. He also made it clear that he disagreed.
There are limitations to free speech,” Kercheval said. “You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater or slander someone. Same way with the Second Amendment.
True, one must suppose. There would probably also be unpleasant consequences for anyone who falsely yelled "fire" in a crowded gun show and caused a dangerous panic. He went on to cite Justice Scalia's declaration in July 2012 on a Fox News Sunday segment that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are not without limits, although Scalia at that time indicated that it "will have to be decided" if private citizens' right to own man-portable anti-aircraft missiles is Constitutionally guaranteed.
That, as is hardly surprising, caused great consternation among the forcible citizen disarmament zealots, as can be seen in this "ThinkProgress" (the name is two lies in one) article:
However, his nonchalant suggestion that private citizens could legally carry rocket launchers so long as they’re “hand-held” suggests just how willing he is to protect an armed nation.
Such originalism is a dangerous distortion of 21st-Century reality. There is no conceivable way to apply the Founding Fathers’ understanding of a ”well-regulated militia” armed with slow-to-load, hard-to-aim muskets to today’s weapon technology. Arguably, the full extent of alleged gunman James Holmes’ munitions could have easily decimated an entire brigade of musketeers before they’d even loaded their first ball.
Keep in mind that Scalia's "will have to be decided" is hardly an unequivocal endorsement of a Stinger in every gun safe, and that in the same interview, he implied at least the possibility that he would be willing to uphold laws banning the carrying of axes.
But back to the original question of bazookas. Why shouldn't their possession by private citizens be protected? It's not as if governments never use tanks against private citizens (see attached video), and nor can it be denied that enormous, heavily armored vehicles are becoming more and more routinely part of civilian police agencies' equipment in the U.S.
We're told all the time (here's a recent example) that the Second Amendment no longer matters, because the government commands far too much military power for private citizens with small arms to thwart any tyrannical ambitions it may have (meaning we should just sit and take it, apparently), but at the same time, if anyone dares discuss adding some heavier firepower to private citizens' arsenals, we're hysterically accused of treason.
Even if Lane is elected, she is unlikely to succeed in making anti-armor rocket launchers more easily available to private citizens (and apparently Leland Yee has now left the business of distributing them illegally), so we'll most likely have to learn how to make our own.
The U.S. is not magically immune to its very own Tiananmen Square Massacre, and those who would deny the people the right to the means of stopping one have already chosen the wrong side.