Where does the 2d Amendment end?

Maybe this will end up in Great Debates, I hope not.

I think everyone basically understands the concept and limitations of free speech, i.e. pretty much boundless, with commonsense limits like not yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.

But I’m totally unclear the limits of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Obviously they exist, and most would agree that they should exist to some extent, but is there any basic rule of thumb or legal definition? What is the rationale for allowing people rifles but not tanks (or can a civilian own a tank?)? Guns but not bombs?

Please understand I don’t have an ulterior motive or axe to grind here, I just found myself wondering about this issue.

Ugh. I phrased this very badly. I obviously understand free speech issues aren’t so cut and dried, or the ACLU would just sit around twiddling its thumbs, but I think I, and most other people are basically clear on the concept. I just don’t see a similiar conceptual clarity with right-to-bear-arms issues, and wonder if I’m missing something, or are the issues decided on a purely case-to-case basis?


Does the right to free speech include a right for

  1. you to speculate to friends about the future price of a stock
  2. you to speculate in a newspaper column about the future price of a stock
  3. you to purchase the stock, and then speculate in a newspaper column
  4. you to speculate to friends about the future price of a stock, and then write it in your column a few days later
  5. you to report in your column the exact contents of your portfolio and the reasons why

RM, this isn’t a thread about Free Speech.

The OPs are predicated on a mutual complete understanding of the freedom of speech. I don’t think we have that.

Here’s the way I’ve always understood it:

Your inalienable rights are in-and-of-themselves unlimited. Yet there are regulations on them. How can this be?

Regulations on your inalienable rights are considered O.K. if you use your rights as a vehicle to deny others their inalienable rights. As an example, you have an inalienable right to speech, but you’re not allowed to use speech to infringe on the rights of others. Examples of this include libel and slander.

This is also applicable to your inalienable right to keep and bear arms. As an example, you are not allowed to use a firearm to intimidate or murder someone. But it is O.K. (despite what the Supreme Court of Ohio thinks) to carry a concealed weapon as you wish, since doing so does not infringe on the rights of anyone else. By the same token I have a right to add a flash suppressor to my FAL (despite what Congress and the BATF thinks) since doing so does not infringe on the rights of anyone else.

GD territory for sure toque. If the constituion were so easy to inerpret we’d have no need for a supreme court.

FWIW part of your question does have a factual answer. You can own a tank as long as it is demilitarized.

Owning the weapons that go on the tank is another matter. Working machine guns up to .50 caliber may be owned by Joe Schmeaux provided the following are true:
[ul][li]The weapon was placed in the national firearms registry prior to May 1986 and is not a dealer sample. This is the kicker, if the machine gun isn’t already registered for private ownership it never can be according to present law.[/li][li]Joe is not prohibited from posessing firearms by the NFA/GCA.[/li][li]Joe is a resident of a state that does not prohibit private ownership of NFA weapons. [/li][li]Joe has passed the required background checks and recieves approval from local enforecement (usually county sheriff).[/li][li]Joe Submits fingerprints and photo and passes an FBI background check.[/li][li]Joe has paid the $200 transfer tax[/li][li]The BATF has approved Joe’s form 4 required to own an NFA weapon.[/ul][/li]It’s even possible in theory for Joe to own the cannon that goes on the tank. The cannon is classified as a destructive device by virtue of the fact that the bore is more then .50" in diameter and it is not a sporting shotgun. It is regulated under the same law that covers machine guns and sound suppressors. DDs also include things like grenades, certain types of grenade launchers, bombs and explosive shells. I can’t give you specifics but I’m told approval for DDs is extremely rare these days. There are some DDs in the hands of private collectors, mostly WWII artillery pieces.

Note that a lot of collectors have demilitarized weapons. They are made inoperable in a way specifically approved by the BATF, usually by cutting the reciever with an acetelene torch, so that it cannot be readily be made to fire again.

The second amendment ends right before the third one.