Volume 279, 1/12/08
While I try to avoid doing too much direct politics in this newsletter, except as it relates to gun rights and law, I feel compelled to express my utter outrage at the Bush administration’s filing of an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in support of the Washington DC handgun ban. According to the Washington Post, the government’s brief includes the following, “The court’s decision could be read to hold that the Second Amendment categorically precludes any ban on a category of ‘Arms’ that can be traced back to the Founding era,” the government argued. “If adopted by this court, such an analysis could cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation prohibiting the possession of certain firearms, including machineguns.” Sorry guys, but it’s the Second Amendment itself that “casts doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation,” and not any decision by a court.
Government is jealous of its power and it seems that parties and promises get thrown under the bus when the rubber meets the road. I am truly and profoundly disappointed.
While I don't disagree in principle (or in detail, for all that) with anything that Syd says, and while I am equally outraged, I don't share his sense of outrage.
Perhaps I'm more cynical, or more pessimistic, but I'm not at all surprised at this federal response.
I expected it, and maybe you did, too.
Think about it.
If the Supremes entirely throw out the D.C. handgun laws (which actually affect possession of all firearms, including 'long guns' ... although they are not specifically addressed in "Heller"), then the United States Government must revisit all federal firearms laws, and justify them under this 'new' interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Historically, we have often cited the "twenty thousand firearms laws in America" when stating the case that these x-number of laws have not proven effective in reducing the number of crimes committed with firearms in the various municipalities, counties, states, etc. which constitute the United States of America.
On the other hand, there are some laws which many of us, perhaps even most of us, consider to be 'acceptable'. Among these are laws which restrict firearms possession by felons and insane persons ... those who have been shown to constitute a threat to public safety. Yes, there are a lot of grey areas in that broad definition. Let us assume that we all recognize that some people just shouldn't have guns, and admit to the common "YMMV" ("Your Mileage May Vary") rhetorical devise which acknowledges that each individual may have different definitions of the terminology "some people".
All of that having been acknowledged, and either accepted or rejected as your personal beliefs may accommodate ...
... if the D.C. Gun Laws are rejected without demure by the Supreme Court, ALL GUN LAWS may be contradicted, and ALL GUN Laws musts be revisited in either the Legislature or the Federal Courts.
If you think that's not such a bad idea, I agree with you. But in the interim, it may not be entirely acceptable. Consider the situation where there are no restrictions on firearms ownership. This might allow Felons and other people who demonstrably should not have guns to legally acquire them.
Until a much more reasonable set of firearms ownership laws can be established, it MAY not be universally acceptable that 'everyone' be able to buy a firearms.
It MAY not be universally unacceptable for some firearms restrictions to remain in place, until they have been individually addressed and either accepted or modified to meet the strict accordance with the Second Amendment ... hopefully, one which meets a practical test of the Second Amendment rather than a 'political' test.
Personally, I would have been not only surprised, but appalled, if the Federal Government didn't enter into this controversy.
This is probably a case where the old rules are notionally thrown out, but held in abeyance while all parties avail themselves of the opportunity to re-negotiate new, more reasonable restrictions on firearms ownership/possession.
I don't think it's unreasonable for the Feds to say "Wait A Minute! Let's Talk This Over!"
I only think it's unreasonable if either party insists that a 'compromise' means that we give them everything, and they give us nothing.
Let us see what comes of the dialogue. After all, it's the first opportunity we've had for a real dialogue since 1934.