SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.
WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?
SCALIA: Very carefully.
Scalia’s reference to the idea that a rocket launcher might fit under the right to bear arms is interesting. It proves that he is committed to protecting the second amendment at almost any cost. Such “originalist” thinking about the United States Constitution is, to some, an enemy of progress and also quite dangerous. It applies rules that were created over 200 years ago to a world in which the threat of such rules can be astonishing.
We can only hope that at some point, Scalia realizes that rocket launchers were not the vision of the founding fathers when they gave Americans the right to bear arms.