Friday, June 27, 2008

Have gun will travail

This week's Supreme Court ruling on handguns is no different from most of its rulings, in that it is being praised and lamented as if it were a landmark decision.

Those who believe they already had the Constitutional right to pack heat liked it. Those who believe the sheer number of guns in our midst must be reduced, any way it can be, aren't so happy about the decision. Neither side is going to skip a step in their travails to have it their way.

Whether the decision will have much effect on crime statistics and the number gun-related deaths will play out in the future. What restrictions a city or state can put on the sort of guns and ammo you can possess is still open for debate. But the decision didn't seem to sanction the notion that it's OK for ordinary citizens to carry rocket launchers around with them for self protection, etc.

As far as how far right or left that decision was, I have to say that in my view the majority of Americans probably do think they ought to be able to own an ordinary handgun and keep it in their home. So, in that sense it probably reflects the will of the people in 2008. And, to be practical, I think most people familiar with the actual wording of the Second Amendment had already morphed the right of a "militia" to bear arms into the right of an individual.

Regarding that morphing, it will be interesting to see if the anti-gun forces now accuse the justices of "legislating from the bench." And, will the pro-gun crowd defend the decision by referring to a "living constitution" that must change with the times?

Obviously, in an election year this decision serves to remind us that presidents appoint the justices.

For the disgruntled Republicans and Democrats presently unhappy with their party's presumptive nominee that's something to think about. It's easy to believe that McCain and Obama would not have the same three names at the top of their lists of prospective Supreme Court appointees.

Meanwhile, there are some who are seeing much more in that decision than may be there. For more on that thought ChangeServant, published by an attorney, has some insights that may bring them back to earth.
The First Amendment and the Second Amendment are part of the bill of rights and define the limits of government relative to the citizens. Neither confers an absolute affirmative right on individuals. The government cannot ban speech under the First; the government cannot ban guns under the Second. The government can establish reasonable time, place and manner rules for the exercise of free speech; the government can establish reasonable time, place and manner rules for the use of guns...
To read the entire ChangeServant post (it's not very long), click here.

2 comments:

Roy said...

Terry, you said:
'I think most people familiar with the actual wording of the Second Amendment had already morphed the right of a "militia" to bear arms into the right of an individual . . . will the pro-gun crowd defend the decision by referring to a "living constitution" that must change with the times?'

I have no idea what they're teaching in the schools these days, but when I attended Fox Elementary, then Fork Union Military Academy, then Miller School, it was accepted that the "right to bear arms" applied to every citizen individually. There was not the faintest hint that a right which BENEFITED the militia was thereby RESTRICTED TO the militia.

As a literally card-carrying member of the "pro-gun crowd" (I have a Concealed Handgun Permit), I assure you that this decision does not represent any sort of changing construction of the Constitution.

If you're willing to do some reading, I'll be happy to loan you a compendium of statements from the Founders which make it very clear that they thought it proper that ALL citizens be armed, and that the "militia" referred to in the Second Amendment consisted of ALL able-bodied citizens.
-- Roy

F.T. Rea said...

Roy,

My post was meant to calm down the anti-gun crowd, more than anything else. The thing I'm happy about is that the decision didn't seem to take anything away from a government's ability to limit access to certain weapons, or to limit certain people from any access to firearms, when there is a compelling reason to do so.

As I've told you in conversations, I have no desire to keep citizens from owning handguns for self defense. But I want all sales recorded and all guns registered.

And, I want to limit access to exotic/military firepower to those who need it for their job.

From my cursory reading of it, this decision doesn't do anything to change much -- it underlined a right most people already thought they had.