Finding gold in a pile of horseshit

You know the story about the kid who is so optimisitic that when his parents give him a pile of horseshit, he goes looking for a pony with the comment “with all that shit–there must be a pony somewhere!”.

Likewise, the Brady campaign tries to put a good spin on the Heller-McDonald decision and I have to agree with them. Doug Henigan says in his blog post on the decision:

So far, the oddest reaction to the McDonald decision is from the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. Far from the purely celebratory statements he made after Heller, yesterday LaPierre himself conceded that the “constitutional victory” in McDonald could end up eventually as a “practical defeat”. Indeed, LaPierre has already put together his “enemies list” of those to blame for such a defeat, including “activist judges, defiant city councils, or cynical politicians.” Is he preparing his membership for the disappointments to come, as all manner of state and local gun laws are upheld and elected officials are emboldened to enact even tougher laws?

LaPierre may also be contemplating the future of the gun debate now that handgun bans are “off the table,” in the words of the Heller majority opinion. How long will the NRA’s leadership be able to argue, with anything approaching a straight face, that the Second Amendment precludes gun regulations like background checks, limits on large-volume sales, safe storage requirements, assault weapon bans, owner licensing, and registration of gun sales, when both Heller and McDonald read like legal briefs for the constitutionality of those laws? And, more importantly, how long will the NRA’s leadership be successful in using its legendary scare tactics to convince gun owners to oppose every gun regulation as a step down the “slippery slope” to a gun ban, when Heller and McDonald have taken gun bans “off the table”?

Viewing Heller and McDonald from LaPierre’s vantage point, an old expression comes to mind: Be careful what you wish for. It could come true.

The problem is that the gun loon crowd act like Pavlov’s dog and salivate when they hear “gun rights” and “individual right”, but don’t really understand what exactly is being mentioned. The Heller-McDonald Supreme  court decisions talk of “presumptively lawful regulatory measures”,  specifically name some, and then declare the list “is not exhaustive”.

Anyway, here is the Heller-McDonald language:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott 333. For example,  the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884).  Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Heller at 54-5

Which has as a footnote (26):

We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.

Better yet:

But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.  Heller at 64

From McDonald:

It is important to keep in mind that Heller, while striking down a law that prohibited the possession of handguns in the home, recognized that the right to keep and bear arms is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” 554 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 54). We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as “prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,” “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” Id., at ___–___ (slip op., at 54–55). We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms. McDonald at 39-40

The only thing off the table is anything that purports to be a ban. Which leads to my question: had Chicago theoretically allowed for registrations (as does New York City) since that is not an “absolute prohibition”– would the law have passed constitutional muster? After all, NYC’s law has been around for 99 years: doesn’t that count as a longstanding regulatory measure?

Likewise, Candidates cannot say that gun laws violate the Second Amendment if they do not infringe upon the rights to truly “law abiding citizens” to own firearms. As the Court said (twice) “the right to keep and bear arms is ‘not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.’”

We can get into the watering down of the Second Amendment right, but that is something which comes from the territory of a judicial amendment of the document: it is whatever a judge says the right is.

So, I have four hopes for the Heller-McDonald decisions: it results in strict gun laws being upheld as long as they are not “bans”, there is a shitload of litigation clogging the court system (after all I do this for a living), and it results in massive confusion creating a constitutional crisis of amazing proportions which goes well beyond the concept of “gun rights”. An additional hope is that it becomes clear that the US legal system runs on the golden rule: those with the gold make the rules.

And the blame lands squarely on the laps of the five stooges.

“Equal Justice Under Law” my arse.

It’s more like we have the best justice money can buy.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: