Is There a Right to Bear Machine Guns?

Among the post-Newtown gun law reforms being discussed is a limit on the number of bullets that magazines can hold. Sometimes opponents of such reforms invoke the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms. That strikes me as a stretch, given that the Second Amendment was conceived in a time when there was no such thing as a gun that could shoot more than one bullet without reloading. I mean, if the Amendment applies to weapons that didn't exist when it was written, why shouldn't it apply to machine guns, or grenade launchers, or even shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles? I recently raised that question with someone who opposes limits on magazine size -- Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine, who has thought and written a lot about this stuff. And it turns out he does think machine guns are constitutionally protected. As for grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles -- he's less certain about those. Here's the exchange:

You can see the continuation of this conversation here, and you can watch the whole conversation from the beginning here.

Presented by

Robert Wright is the author of The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in National

Just In