Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggests that handheld rocket launchers should be legal


Your wackier gun enthusiasts are going to love THIS:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday said that even “handheld rocket launchers” could be considered legal under his interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

In the wake of a massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, host Chris Wallace asked Scalia if the Constitution would support assault-type AR-15 rifles and 100-round clips.

The justice explained that under his principle of originalism, some limitations on weapons were possible. Fox example, laws to restrict people from carrying a “head axe” would be constitutional because it was a misdemeanor when the Constitution was adopted in the late 1700s…

“But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to — it’s will have to be decided,” he added.

UPDATE: Scalia also said today that he sees no inviolable constitutional right for women to use contraceptives. The story is HERE.



  1. This is NOT what Scalia said at all. He simply said that Heller, while leaving open the door for some restrictions, did not define where those limits are at all. The rocket launcher statement was merely pointing out that there have yet to be rulings that set limits anywhere below a certain threshold (i.e., weapons that can be carried, or “born”), not that such a weapon would or should be constitutionally protected. If people want “reasonable discussion” of gun issues, the first thing they need to do is stop dishonestly distorting the views of those with whom they disagree.

  2. Dean Marky

    You and Bill O’Reilly need to google the National Firearms Act of 1934 . Look for Destructive Devices. Then watch less of Sons of Guns.

  3. He also used the word “applesauce” as a synonym for BS. So he’s got that going for him.

  4. Sure why not that’s just what our founding fathers were thinking about, hand held rocket launchers. We can also assume Scalia was invited to the international arms sales convention as their keynote speaker with a generous honorarium.

  5. Dan F.

    I watched Scalia on Fox News Sunday, and you are summarizing his comments incorrectly and irresponsibly.

    He said the U.S. Constitution allows people to keep and “bear” arms, which Scalia interprets literally and not “purposively,” as he said. Citizens cannot bear (carry) cannons, so laws regulating cannons are constitutional. If handheld rocket launchers can he borne (carried), then all he’s saying is that a wise court would include this in its reckoning, because he views the “bearing” of arms as a critical criterion when judging the constitutionality of these things. (In other words, he feels the Constitutional should be interpreted on the basis of what it says and that modern courts should not relax or grow parts of the Constitution just because they think the Founders would have intended it.)

    The Web site you cite summarizes this as “Scalia says rocket launchers could be legal,” and you twist it into “Scalia suggests that handheld rocket launchers should be legal.” You’re putting words into Scalia’s mouth. Scalia never used the word “should.” He merely sketched out the shape of the arguments that one could use to argue for the legality of rocket launchers in court. He didn’t say how he would rule in such a case, and he certainly never made any comments that handheld rocket launchers “should” be legal.

    But of course you hear what you want to hear. That’s why I keep reading your blog… it forces me to accept the reality that a lot of liberals are unteachable.

  6. The reason we have a 2nd amendment is for the people to be able to rise up against the government . The reason we have the posse comtatus act ( that every member of the armed forces is taught ) is so that the government cannot use the military against the people . But , if the president declares martial law for whatever reason , the people may need everything of that nature should they decide to take the country back from martial law. I believe our forefathers understood that weapons develope ment would progress , thats why they generalized the term arms to be all inclusive.

  7. Neftali

    Well stated, Dan F. I couldn’t agree more.

  8. Bob H.

    Dan F. is right on the money. Scalia did NOT say that rocket launchers should be legal. What he said (and I just saw it again just now on-line to make sure I was right) was that the second amendment refers to arms that one can “bear” or carry as opposed to cannons or such weapons that cannot be carried. He went on to explain that any laws that resricted arms that could be carried could still be legal on a case by case basis. He used the example of law in the 1700’s that prohibited the open carrying of weapons such as a head axe that was meant to “frighten” others. He was then asked about the legality of restricting hand-held rocket launchers, and he responded that such a case would have to be “looked at,” which was his response to other examples, such as restrictions on assault rifles and 100 round magazines.
    He, as do all the other Justices, refuses to give a “what if” opinion on a matter that is not “before the court.” He clearly was saying that each of these situations would have to be “looked at” and decided on a case by case basis.
    I suggest that Mr. Cunningham go back and watch Justice Scalia’s statements again–this time with an open mind.

  9. Upon reflection, the word “should” in the headline above should be “could.”

    I was mistaken in thinking that the word “suggests” indicated a degree of ambivalence.

    Still, the thought of legalizing handheld rocket launchers, which Scalia seems willing to entertain, is more than a little frightening.

  10. Scalia indicated that hand held rocket launchers have to be decided. Decided???? Is there a choice?

  11. Bob H.

    Yes, rocket launchers are “destructive devices” under the NFA.
    What Scalia said, which is what all the other Justices say frequently, is that he is not going to answer a hypothetical. Bring him a case, with its own set of facts, and then he’ll let you know.

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