Politically, Christmas this year began on the evening of December 13th. Many of us witnessed the seasons' greetings on CNN.
At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, George W. Bush was scheduled to deliver his presidential acceptance speech from the Texas House of Representatives, the site of his occasional bonding with a Texas Democrat. An hour before, Al Gore -- skewered by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling -- had conceded the election.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been getting
himself dusty in the law library lately. News organizations reported on July 12
that Ashcroft, a National Rifle Association member, had reversed the Justice
Department's long-standing constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment
(which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be
infringed"). According to Ashcroft, the amendment protects a robust
individual right to bear arms for every American, and not merely a
collective right limited to militia service, as federal courts have ruled.
The Weekly Standard ran a story in July titled "Taking the Second Amendment Seriously," its cover art showing the weather-stained statue of what looks like a militiaman. The article--actually a thick chunk of legalese by George Mason law professor Nelson Lund--turns out to be the latest conservative gush-fest over an April 1999 federal district court ruling out of northern Texas affirming an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Thanks to the NRA, most Americans believe the Amendment already confers such a right. But the federal courts have generally only endorsed a "collective" right to bear arms in the context of a state militia, such as the National Guard.
It was Sunday morning, Mother's Day. In Washington, D.C., the Clintons were welcoming Million Mom Marchers at the White House before their rally, while near the Washington Monument, the Second Amendment Sisters were beginning to assemble. But in North Michigan, in the town of Menominee near the Wisconsin border, it was also the morning after the local high school's prom, and B.J. Stupak, son of the four-term Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, had been found dead in his home. The apparently
thriving high school junior -- recently elected president of the student council and named to prom court -- had shot himself.