A freshman Republican congressman is arguing that the 2nd Amendment could be interpreted broadly enough to allow ordinary citizens access to the same equipment that the military uses.
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who unseated longtime Rep. Cliff Stearns last year thanks in large part to Tea Party support, sat down with Florida political blog The Shark Tank over the weekend to discuss gun violence. The freshman GOPer said he’d spoken with a number of constituents recently and approvingly relayed their sentiment: “when you read the Second Amendment,” Yoho said, “the militia had the same equipment as the military to protect them against the tyrannical government.” Preserving those protections, he argued, is “more important today than ever”:
YOHO: On guns, [my constituents] were saying that the sentiment, when you read the Second Amendment, is that the militia had the same equipment as the military to protect them against the tyrannical government. I think it’s more important today than ever, that we uphold our Second Amendment.
Military weapon technology is considerably more advanced today than when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, and so is U.S. military structure. Back then, the pinnacle of firearm technology was cannons and muskets, and citizens joining the military were expected to supply their own weapons. Nowadays, hydrogen bombs and tanks exist. The Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by originalist Justice Antonin Scalia, sensibly ruled that Congress may prohibit citizens from carrying “dangerous and unusual weapons.” After all, we all know at least a few people who we’d prefer not to possess nuclear arms.
This is why Yoho’s declaration is a dangerous one. When single-shot guns that took a long time to reload were the most advanced gun available, there was less to fear in citizens having the same access to weapons as soldiers. To hold that same standard in the nuclear age is naive and alarming.