Defer to the Preamble
The many split decisions by the U.S. Supreme court justices demonstrate the ambiguity inherent in the U.S. Constitution. Fortunately, the Founding Fathers made their intentions clear in the Preamble to the Constitution where they say:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This Preamble makes it clear the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to “…promote the general Welfare …” of the people.
Compare the clarity of the Preamble to the dangerously ambiguous language of the Second Amendment. Ratified on December 15, 1791, it states:
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
If one adopts an originalist view of the Constitution, which asserts that all statements in the Constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding, then the Second Amendment means that if you are a member of a state militia and that militia is well regulated, you are free to carry your musket.
However, almost 250 years later in the era of high powered assault weapons interpretations of the Second Amendment now allow the purchase and open carry of assault type weapons, such as the AR-15-style rifle. This weapon has been prominent in mass shootings in the United States.
Fortunately, the clarity of the Preamble can help us resolve the ambiguity of the Second Amendment.
Knowing the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to “…promote the general Welfare …” of the people we should ask ourselves if allowing purchase and use of AR-15-style rifles promotes the general welfare of the people.
This question can be answered empirically, for example by comparing the welfare of those killed and injured by AR-15 style rifles to the various benefits enjoyed by their owners. This information should be used by justices to form their opinions as they interpret the wishes of the Founding Fathers.
Promoting general welfare means that the government should see to it that the citizens of our country enjoy good fortune, health, and happiness to the benefit of as many people as possible, not just a few. By paying close attention to the preamble of the Constitution today’s Supreme Court will do a better job of fulfilling the wishes of our Founding Fathers.