When I think about our Second Amendment right to bear arms, I often think of one of my wife’s aunts.
I thought of her especially yesterday when I read accounts of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision which contained the following from Justice Scalia’s opinion for the majority:
“The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of ‘arms’ that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose. The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.Aunt Amy was 80, a widow, and living alone. One night she was awoken by what sounded like broken glass. She realized someone was entering her home.
Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,’ would fail constitutional muster.” (56,57)
As she later recounted, she was terrified but able to reach for the pistol on her bedside table. She heard footsteps coming down the hallway that led to her bedroom. She remembered hollering something, but she couldn’t recall what.
The footsteps kept coming, She fired a bullet through her bedroom door and heard someone running away down the hall.
Then she called the cops.
They came, as did some of her children and grandchildren who lived nearby.
There was the usual police search for evidence of the break-in and Aunt Amy had to give a statement to police, provide proof of her right to have the gun, etc.
The officer in charge didn’t know Aunt Amy personally, but he knew she was well known in the moderate size city where she’d lived all her live and been a community leader.
The officer, who Aunt Amy said was "very nice," told her that while the incident report was a public document, he felt sure he’d be able to persuade the media to ignore it.
Aunt Amy told the officer she didn’t want that. She wanted the incident to get as much attention as possible. She wanted everyone to know she had a gun by her beside and could use it. She said the press and TV could come and take pictures if they liked.
The officer said OK, that’s how it would be. He also told her he didn’t think she’d have to worry about any break-ins for quite a while.
And it turned out that way. Aunt Amy lived on another five years in her house without incident.
If she was here, Aunt Amy would be cheering Justice Scalia today.