It looks like we are going to see this year a campaign to restrict the right of Americans to keep and bear arms. It is going to be led by politicians racing to exploit the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and seven adults were slain by a mentally ill young man using a semi-automatic rifle. It is too soon to gauge whether this campaign will center on the Congress, the courts, or the states. It is not too soon to say that it will be quite a show at the palladium.
“Palladium” is the word that was used by St. George Tucker to describe the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Tucker was a lawyer from Virginia, where he taught at William and Mary and served on the state’s supreme court before he was elevated in 1813 to the federal district court. The most quoted legal authority of his day, Tucker brought out an American edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, in which he offered his famous description of the Second Amendment.