Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Justice Scalia: 2nd Amendment May Allow Rocket Launchers, but Not Head-Axes

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opined that citizens may have the constitutional right to own handheld rocket launchers.

Scalia appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” where host Chris Wallace asked the conservative justice how far the constitutional right to bear arms extended.

“Can a legislature ban semiautomatic weapons, or can it ban magazines that carry a hundred rounds without violating an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms?” asked Wallace.

Scalia replied that under his interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, certain restrictions on weapons ownership are possible.

For example, wielding a head-axe could be banned because doing so was a misdemeanor in the late 1700s when the Constitution was written, he said.

“Obviously, we’re not now talking about a handgun or a musket,” Wallace pressed when the discussion turned to technologically advanced weapons the framers of the Constitution could not have envisioned, such as the ones used by Aurora, Colorado massacre suspect James Holmes. “We’re talking about a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute.”

“Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried,” Scalia replied. “It’s to ‘keep and bear,’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons.”

“But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes… it will have to be decided,” he added.

“How will that be decided?” asked Wallace.

“Very carefully,” Scalia replied.

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