Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: CNN v. the Constitution

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CNN reporter Don Lemon couldn't have been more insufferably, arrogantly condescending if he'd tried.

Last Saturday night, with the nation still reeling in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Lemon thought it would be a good time to lecture Americans on the meaning of the Second Amendment.

"The shooting here in Newtown," Lemon piously intoned, "is reviving the debate over gun control. And the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

"Most people THINK (emphasis Lemon's) that they know what it says, but here's the actual text. You decide for yourselves what right it guarantees."

Lemon didn't mean "you decide," of course. What he meant was that the genius Don Lemon would tell you what it meant.

After reading the Second Amendment, Lemon felt it was instructive to repeat, for emphasis, the first four words.

"A well-regulated militia," Lemon said, as if he were instructing a class of clueless sixth-grade civics students. "There it is."

Lemon must have thought he found some sort of constitutional Rosetta Stone. For him, the key words to the Second Amendment are "a well-regulated militia."

Others would beg to differ. The key words in the Second Amendment are, and always have been, these:

"The right of the people."

As in "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Notice the Founding Fathers didn't word that amendment the way Lemon and others would choose to interpret it. They didn't say, "The right of well-regulated militias to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Memo to Lemon: If the Founding Fathers had meant that, they would have written that.

I suspect Lemon and others who would pound that "well-regulated militia" horse won't be convinced by the words "the right of the people." The Founding Fathers had an answer for such folks. That's why they wrote the Ninth Amendment.

That one reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Since Lemon thought he was doing Second Amendment supporters the favor of interpreting that law for us -- most of us already know it and could have quoted it to you from memory, Mr. Lemon -- I'll return the favor.

The Ninth Amendment simply means, among so many other things, that we should never interpret the words "well-regulated militia" in the Second Amendment to mean that private citizens can't own firearms, even if they don't belong to a militia.

Just as I became convinced that I'd be better off watching a Three Stooges rerun than listening to any more of Lemon's pseudo-pedagogy, he brought in Lou Palumbo to talk some more about the Second Amendment.

Palumbo was identified as the director of something called the Elite Intelligence and Protection Agency and a former police officer in Nassau County, N.Y. The Second Amendment, Lemon rhetorically asked Palumbo, "does not mean that you can go out and buy as many weapons and you can and go out and shoot people."

No amendment gives Americans the "right" to go out and commit mass murder, but that's what Lemon not very subtly implied gun rights advocates believe.

I have no idea why Lemon brought in Palumbo for commentary, but the ex-cop said something that eviscerated the argument of every gun control proponent in America.

"New York has the most restrictive gun laws in the United States," Palumbo said. "We have very good gun laws. We now have the biggest black market for them also."

Let me get this straight: New York implemented strict gun control laws, and the result is MORE gun-related crime?

Sounds like our approach to gun control is the same as our approach to the control of illegal drugs, which is to say a pretty darned poor one.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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The Washington Examiner