See, that's exactly why I don't like to discuss personal credentials. They are so much of an unnecessary distraction and have nothing to do with the issues at hand. Anybody that *cares to* can understand and discuss this stuff just as well as anyone who's had formal training in the area. True, I have a point of view and opinions, but I like to think I push and pull these conversations along without too much in the way of spin. I get called a liberal (every time), which I always think is funny. Compared to what? My POV is spoken from the center. Dead center. Or is that worse? Actually, now that I think about it, that is bullsh*t...I am a little left of center, but not as far as you all think I am and think where I am should be the center. WKL, I am very surprised to hear you accuse me of talking over people after several of the conversations we've had. Go figure. Woodie, I admire Clinton just as much as not. Think about that. Here is the way I like to think about where our rights come from and our government and the Constitution. Our Consitution both limits and empowers government; it creates a framework for our goverment and limits government by protecting individual rights. It is anti-majoritarian by design to serve the function of protecting minorities (any all minorities) from the tyranny of the majority. It is very difficult to change for the very reason that we don't want fundamental change caused by the temporary insanity history teaches infects us during times of crisis. Whatever your view of the true source of our individual rights, it is true, in a practical sense, any and all branches of our government can determine we have rights we did not have before. But as far as protecting individual liberties, the Constitution is the primary source. Just as true, the judiciary, and particularly the SC (as the final arbiter of the Constitution) is the branch we have decided has the duty to "say" what the law is. There are basically two schools of thought regarding how the Constitution should be interpreted. Originalists and nonoriginalists. Originalists, like Justices Scalia and Thomas (they are actually regarded as "strict originalists"), say we cannot go outside of the four corners of the Document that is the Constitution to determine a right. In other words, if you do not see it expressly enumerated, basically it does not exist. And if you want a right and do not see it, you better get a new amendment because it is impermissible to interpet a right by reading between the lines. To determine what IS there, an originalist looks at history, the original intent of the framers (what they meant by the words they used then) and our traditions as a country, only. And if the intent of a particular issue cannot be determined by the above framework of determining the intent of the plain language of the words used in the Document using history and tradition, then the matter is better left to the political process. Too bad, so sad, better luck next time. In contrast, nonoriginalists assert that the originalist approach is all well and good, but that the political process fails all too often, the framers recognized this and were thus far more clever than to lock us into the language of one point in time. As a result, it is permissible to interpret the words of the Consitution using the basic values expressed in the outline (which is all the Consitution is anyway--an outline) as a reference, to resolve constitutional questions going forward, consistent with the framers intentions. In other words, the Document being the product of political compromise to begin with, there is no single intent. Bottom line. Any "method" of intepretation requires just that, interpretation. The SC is the final arbiter of the Consitution and because individual liberties and fundamental rights are protected by the Consitution above all other sources of law, the SC is the final determiner of those rights. Which is why I say to you, Woodie, that is all in your head. Sure, you can claim to have any right you want. On a personal note, I believe we have basic fundmental rights that are not expressly enumerated by the Consitution and that the SC is giving me credit as having. But until that right is fleshed out and the parameters are drawn as to the particular boundaries of that right by the SC, does it really exist? As a practical matter the answer is no. Not that we don't have the right, but more that the rights we claim will not be protected by the coercive force of government. Again, we can sit around and talk about whether the SC does or even should have the right to interpret the Constitution in the first place, but that isn't going to change the way it is. Where we are now. So where does that leave us with the 2A? The Supreme Court has all but ignored it. I have four (fat) Constitutional law books on my bookshelf at home and the Second Amendment is not discussed in any one of them. Are these pinko-commie books? They are just regular Con law books. But there is nothing to discuss. And so, if you have a Consitutionally protected right to own and bear arms, where is it? What does it look like? It's unfortunately not whatever the NRA says it is because that leads to chaos. And it's not just whatever you want to to be (to the extent that differs with the NRA's POV) for the same reason. Fact is you don't have one. As we are now, the states have all the power they want to regulate guns, including taking them away entirely. The federal government is the same way, just to some lesser extent, because the 2A operates to limit the federal government to some degree...a degree not yet determined (could eventually be no degree). The reason for that is because we're all sitting around waiting for the SC to say we have it--again, something they are as yet to do. And they don't have to, either. I have said it before, where we are now in terms of gun control is very close to where we are likely to end up afte rthe test case reaches the SC and the status quo is already a winner for the pro gun guys. And I don't disagree with you about their role to some extent, but I think you are fialing to recognize the significant weight they carry in our system. The SC is the final arbiter of the Constitution. They decide what it says and what it doesn't say and they decide whether something in the Consitution will be given life. This is ancient history. This is now how our Consitutional system works. Please don't shoot the messenger. Bringing us back around to orginalism vs. nonoriginalism, the 2A presents a very interesting problem. To interpet the 2A from an originaist POV, I find it difficult to imagine that the qualifying language beginning the Amendment will be read out of the thing if it ever does reach the Court. Particularly in light of the historical dodo that is the Third Amendment.