News has been pouring out of Ann Arbor all summer. No matter how far away you were from hoMe, whether you were studying abroad in Barcelona, interning on Wall Street, waiting tables on Main Street or simply soaking up the sun on the shores of Lake Michigan, no Wolverine could bear four long months without checking in on their beloved campus. Between the dawning of the Harbaugh Era, the opening of Mcity and the renovations on North Campus, the summer of 2015 was by no means uneventful. One Ann Arbor resident, Joshua Wade, has been particularly busy.
In June, Wade filed a lawsuit against the University (which by itself is not entirely rare). This case, however, has nothing to do with affirmative action or sexual misconduct. This case is about gun control.
Wade’s charge is simple: University policy states that no weapons can be carried on University campuses by anyone other than law enforcement or the military. To Wade, this policy violates the rights he finds in both the United States and Michigan constitutions. He carries weapons for the defense of himself and his loved ones and “just want(s) U-M to come into compliance with state law,” because “police unfortunately can’t be everywhere … they can’t protect everyone, as evidenced by the fact that crime happens.” University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald issued a statement shortly thereafter announcing that the administration will “vigorously defend” their policy as a matter of safety.
Most observers of this case will be able to see the merits of each side of the argument, the complex conflict of interest between Mr. Wade’s Second Amendment rights and the University’s desire to ensure the safety of its students. But in this case, there are not two sides. Contrary to popular opinion and the agenda perpetuated by thousands of gun advocates in America today, this case should be a no-contest, easy win for the University. Because when it comes to his rights, Mr. Wade is absolutely and without a doubt dead wrong.
Let’s break down the argument in this case. The University cannot ban the possession of weapons on campus because the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, right? Wrong, and for more than one reason.
If Joshua Wade read the exact phrasing of keystone of his legal argument, he would see that the amendment begins: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” To the founders, the right to bear arms was exercised at Lexington and Concord, not by Mr. Wade at the corner of Liberty and State streets. Not until 2008 did the Supreme Court recognize the right to bear arms as one belonging to the individual. Not 1908, but 2008 — the year Rich Rodriguez came to Michigan, President Obama was elected and the No. 1 song on the charts was “Low” by Flo Rida. Up until then, in Washington D.C. and in school zones around the country, there were local bans on owning a firearm until cases like D.C. v. Heller and United States v. Lopez at the Supreme Court changed this (though dissent remains).
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of conservatives on the issue of guns is the heinous and widespread oversimplification of what the Second Amendment says. Americans like Mr. Wade tend to adopt summarized views of the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment gives me the right to free speech, the Second Amendment says I can bear arms, etc. Reading opinions from the Supreme Court, however, this is hardly the case.
“The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud … on the American People … that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies — the militia — would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.” And this wasn’t one of your run-of-the-mill liberal justices. This came from Warren Burger, stalwart conservative from the Midwest.
Even if the Second Amendment read as simply as most people imagine it does, they would still have a problem. As star-spangled awesome as Americans see themselves, no right is absolute. Look no further than the conservative champion and author of the opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, Justice Antonin Scalia. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
Misconceptions have made guns an integral part of our Constitution, and this delusion has gone too far for too long. Why Wade cannot see how a community that is often plagued by sexual assault, depression and inebriated college kids would have a vested interest in decreasing the number of guns on campus is beyond me. Read the amendment for yourself, free from prejudice or preconceived notion. And know that gun control is not a liberal fantasy, but a modern imperative.
Brett Graham can be reached at email@example.com.