Bring It On!

SCOTUS rules in favor of gun owners in DC

June 26th, 2008 | by Dusty |

As a gun owner and a progressive, I have mixed feelings about the ruling today. While I do think the NRA is full of shit on most issues or the non-issues they turn into issues, I believe there is a fundamental right to bear arms. That said however, I do not believe that people need arsenals or automatic weapons.

Evidently there was a dust-up during the reading of the ruling today between Scalia the turd who read the majority opinion and Justice Stevens who read the dissenting opinion. From the BLT link:

“Do not accept the summary you have just heard,” Stevens said at one point. Earlier, Scalia told spectators they had to slog through 154 pages of opinions to really understand the Court’s position. And Scalia said it was “particularly wrongheaded” for dissenters to rely on United States v. Miller, the 1939 case that marked the last time the high court ruled on the Second Amendment.

When Scalia was reading his own opinion Stevens occasionally shook his head in disbelief. And Stevens jousted back. With emphasis on the word “genuine,” Stevens said that “a genuine judicial conservative” would not have inserted the Court into the “political thicket” of the gun rights debate as Scalia had done.

What I gather is that this ruling is pretty complicated. The NRA has already stated this ruling sets precedence and they will now challenge other types of gun restriction laws in other cities and states. To be sure, the DC gun law was the strictest law on the books anywhere in the U.S. But the NRA’s goal is to overturn any and all gun laws, including those which ban automatic and semiautomatic rifles.

That is where the NRA and I part ways. Semi and automatic rifles were created for one reason; to kill humans a quickly as possible. You won’t see hunters using either of those types of weapons when they are game hunting and even my father thinks no one needs to own semi or automatic guns. Good ol Dad and I finally agree on something..stop the presses!

Crossposted at Leftwing Nutjob

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  1. 47 Responses to “SCOTUS rules in favor of gun owners in DC”

  2. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    No one should be surprised by this decision. Nor should anyone buy into the poltical/media hype that somehow Second Amendment interpretation has experienced a tectonic shift. The DC guns regs are (were) an anomaly. As I expected, the Roberts court found that conservative jurisprudence that’s true to its course of logic. Do as little as possible - that’s the Roberts Rule. US v Miller - and all that before and after - still stands, and awaits a broader decision.

    JMJ

  3. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    True Jersey, the DC laws were the strictest in the nation. But the NRA will try to skew this one ruling anyway they can.

    I havent’ slogged through the ruling yet, or been on the legal blogs to see how they rank it.

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Well, like I said, lets all avoid overestimating the weight of this ruling. The fact of the matter is most gun regs, local, state, and national, should realistically be unaffected by this decision. Lets make sure we remind people of that.

    From what I understand thusfar, this is a pretty standard Roberts convention.

    JMJ

  5. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    The NRA specifically named the cities of Chicago and San Fran as their targets based on this ruling. I have yet to read what is so bad about their laws.

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    It seems to me to be a very narrow ruling since it applies only to the federal government and not to the states. Also, Scalia makes it clear that the ruling doesn’t invalidate many kinds of regulations even in D. C. The big deal is settling the question of an individual right to keep and bear arms, apart from militia service, for self defense, particularly in one’s own home. Frankly, from what I understand of the ruling, it was right on.

  7. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Well Craig, you will excuse me if I don’t take your rightwing word for it right? ;)

    The NRA still wants to use this ruling to overturn various other cities laws..and with the BushCo courts nothing is set in stone.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Dusty,

    I don’t expect anyone to take my word for anything. I’m just giving my opinion about the ruling. The NRA will continue to challenge laws and the Court may go along with it. I’m just saying what I take THIS ruling to say and do. I try to avoid reading minds or foretelling the future, particularly when the Supreme Court is concerned. I mean, who could have foreseen the Kelo ruling?

  9. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    And the recent decision that ruled capital punishment unconstitutional for convicted rapists of children…even Obama is dissing it. When it comes to the Supreme Court, all bets are off. I sometimes know what I would like them to rule in a particular case and I know what I think the actual text of the Constitution would call for but as for what they will do on any particular day…who knows?

    The NRA is what it is and its members want what they want. They have this wacky notion that the text of the Constitution should mean something more than just being a quaint historical footnote in the Justices’ quest for bringing into being their personal vision of nirvana, the actual Constitution notwithstanding.

    Actually, on that, I agree with the NRA. ;-)

  10. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    After Obama’s stand on the new FISA bill I could give a rat’s ass how he sees anything Craig. Also, for you to still consider him a bloody liberal..I beg to differ with you. He is moving away from the left as quickly as he can. Notice he has taken to wearing the friggin flag pin? I did..

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Dusty,

    No thank you. I will NOT get into another “Obama’s a liberal — He is not” argument with you. :-)

    As for wearing a flag-pin. Pffft! Are flag pins a genuine conservative-liberal issue? Can’t a liberal actually be proud to be an American? I mean, some conservatives seem to like to say that liberals hate their country but surely few liberals would agree with them on this point.

    The whole flag-pin wearing thing seemed so silly to me. Even if flag pins DID, as Obama contended, become a stand-in for actively CARING about the welfare of the country and its people, surely ACTUALLY caring about the welfare of the country and its people doesn’t REQUIRE not wearing a flag pin, does it? Can’t a liberal do both?

    I guess what I’m saying is, his whole “principled refusal to wear a flag pin on his lapel” shtick seemed uncharacteristically stupid and petty coming from someone who so desperately wished to be seen as a uniter.

  12. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    First off, wearing a friggin pin does NOT make you proud to be an American Craig and I am seriously appalled that you would link it to that.

    Second..I feel its petty to label someone as NOT patriotic because they don’t wear one of those stupid things which are usually..and ironically made in China.

  13. By Chris Radulich on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    I still do not understand how they ignore the first part of the amendment. I also wish they would show the same respect for the 6th amendment.

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Dusty,

    As for your first point, I’m not contending that wearing a pin makes one (or I would say, “means that one is”) proud to be an American any more than not wearing one makes one (or “means that one is”) not proud to be an American so you can stop being appalled. Not my point at all.

    This was what I was trying to get across: you pointed to the fact that he’s now wearing a flag pin and I took you to be saying that that somehow meant that he was not a liberal — perhaps I misread your point there but that’s what I understood you to be saying. I’m just saying that his wearing a pin or not wearing a pin is meaningless for whether he is or is not a liberal. Surely being a liberal doesn’t require one not to wear an American flag pin no matter where that pin is made, no?

    Incidentally, I don’t wear such a pin. I like to think that I love my country and genuinely care about what is best for it and its people.

    Yes, it is petty to label someone as NOT patriotic because they don’t wear a flag pin. On that, we agree. I just don’t think that WEARING such a pin says anything of substance about one’s political leanings.

  15. By Chris Radulich on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.”
    ~ David Hume

    “Patriotism ruins history.”
    ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    “Patriotism… is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.”
    ~ Emma Goldman

    and this one certianly applies to america

    “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”
    ~ Samuel Johnson

    I, for one, always count my fingers to see if they are all there and check to see if my wallet is still there after any round of patriotic talk.

  16. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    They do not ignore the first part of the amendment. They take the first part of the amendment to be saying that the uncontested need for security in a free state and its requirement for a well-regulated militia is the REASON that the right of the people to keep and bear arms must not be infringed. After all, the first part of the amendment doesn’t say that only members of the militia have a right to keep and bear arms. In other words, they aren’t ignoring it, they are disagreeing with you about what the first part of the amendment MEANS within the context of the second amendment.

    As for your point about the sixth amendment, I’m not at all sure what you mean. Could you elaborate?

  17. By Jersey McJones on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Dusty, I’d bet you’re absolutely right that the Right will froth at the mouth over this ruling and attempt to apply it through broader rulings in courts packed with rightwing scumbags. Just the same, they’ll be hard-pressed to get away with it in the end. After all, when was the last time we had a ruling anywhere close to this weak excuse? 1939, It’s been a while and it will be a while again, lest we already have become a Third World state.

    JMJ

  18. By Chris Radulich on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    yes they are ignoring the first part.

    A. Founding fathers were deathly afraid of a standing army.

    B. The milita supplied their own armament in those days. Self defense was not the motive for the second amendment.

  19. By Dusty on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    How true Chris! The whole ‘well-regulated militia’ part of the amendment seems to always be ignored.

    I just watched Dan Abrams show on MSNBC, he spent the better part of his argument on the same point.

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    A. I agree. I don’t see what relevance that has to either my point or to the majority decision.

    B. I agree. However, whether self-defense was or was not the motive for the second amendment, you’re going to have to elaborate if you hope for me to understand your point here. I didn’t reference self-defense in my response to you. Therefore, whether self defense was the motive for the second amendment is completely irrelevant to my point. The fact that the militia supplied their own arms (although I disagree that they supplied their own armaments — rifles, ammo and powder, perhaps but are you contending that if no member of the militia happened to own a canon and balls, they were SOL in a battle that required such armaments? I don’t think so.) doesn’t effect in the least that the second amendment protected a private individual right to keep and bear arms. In fact, the protection of said right, BECAUSE members of the militia were expected to bring their own arms, was absolutely required AND WAS the reason for the second amendment.

    Seems to me that, unless I am misunderstanding your argument, you are refuting your own argument here.

    Ergo, they are not ignoring the first part of the amendment. They disagree with you about the interpretation of the first part of the amendment and its relationship to the rest of the amendment..

  21. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    And whether or not self-defense was the motive for the second amendment, I don’t think you can find many historians or legal scholars today who would contend that the founders did not consider self-defense to be a right.

    Such a right is implied, I would think, in the fifth and fourteenth amendments’ “life” clause. That is, the right to life is being protected from the state and federal government taking of life without due process. From this, I believe it inferable that the founders held life to be a right of the people. Surely no one could argue that, while one had a right to life, nevertheless one had no right to defend one’s life or the life of others in instances where the constabulary was insufficient to the task — say sneak attack by natives, for example, against farmers outside of town or cattle rustlers and thieves, etc.

    Just because self-defense was not the motive for the second amendment, that does not mean that the founders did not recognize such a right. They just didn’t make it the stated reason for embedding a protection of a right to keep and bear arms. At least that’s the way I see it.

  22. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 26, 2008 | Reply

    In any case, the majority decision spends six pages discussing the preface. Therefore, unless you and Dusty have utterly idiosyncriatic definitions of the word ignore, the majority did not ignore the first part of the amendment. QED.

  23. By Independent Mind on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    Hooray for the Second Amendment! Hooray for the US Constitution! Hooray for the US Supreme Court!

    What a GREAT decision by the US Supreme Court! After giving terrorists rights they do not deserve and taking away capital punishment for child molesters, the Supreme Court finally got one half way right!

    Too bad they didn’t get rid of the laws banning assault weapons. I disagree with you Dusty on this point. The musket was the assault weapon of the day when the Constitution was written. Private persons DID own cannons if they could afford them. Law abiding citizens should have the right to own modern assault weapons. If said weapons are used in a crime, then the individual committing the crime should be put to death as punishment! It’s that simple.

  24. By Liberal Jarhead on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    My stance on this issue is no secret - I’m another gun-toting liberal; and I do have what some might call an arsenal, including a number of semi-automatic rifles and pistols.

    I disagree with the assertion that their only purpose is to kill people. I am not a hunter, but I know that a lot of hunters do use semi-automatic rifles and shotguns; there are laws limiting how many rounds those guns can hold, typically 3 for shotguns and 5 for rifles. But I love target shooting, which is one of the purposes for which I have them, and that isn’t killing anything except paper.

    I also think it’s pretty reasonable for people, as long as they pass the screenings for criminal records and mental illness, to own guns for self-defense. On the rare occasions when I’ve had to call the police, their response time has been anything up to an hour. That wouldn’t do a person much good. In my case, living in a city with a pretty high rate of violent crime and having gotten crossways with some gang types a couple of times when I worked in the prison system, I went through the extra bureaucracy and more intensive background check to get a concealed carry permit, and I usually do carry a semi-auto pistol and a spare magazine (20 or 28 rounds total, depending on which one I’m carrying) if I’m in a place where it’s legal to do that. If I’m going where it’s not legal (places that serve alcohol, federal and state buildings, schools, national parks, reservation land, and any place that’s posted), the pistol stays locked in the safe at home. I want a high-capacity pistol because I’ve been a weapons instructor for the Marine Corps and the corrections department, and I know that it may take that many shots to hit someone and stop him or her - or them. And since a lot of states passed concealed carry laws a few years ago and started issuing permits, follow-up data shows that concealed carry license holders commit far fewer crimes per capita than the general population. As a group, we play by the rules and color within the lines a lot better than average.

    One of the key aspects of this debate that I don’t like is that people keep trying to shift it from a right into the question of whether people need a particular type of gun or not. It isn’t a need, it’s a right. The right is not inalienable, and it can and should be taken away if a person shows that he or she can’t be trusted with it. I am glad they do background checks, and I want them to do a better job of sharing information so people like the Virginia Tech murderer won’t be allowed to buy guns (or at least we can keep them from doing so legally.) But if a person, say like me - no criminal record, not a psychiatric risk, a stable citizen - wants to own a gun, he or she should not have to prove a need, any more than a people should have to prove a need to exercise other rights covered in the Constitution.

    And when it comes to exotics like suppressed or fully automatic guns or .50 caliber rifles, there too, if someone jumps through all the legal hoops, pays the extra fees (it calls for an even more intensive background check by the FBI and a special fee of $200 for each gun), meets all the requirements, he or she currently can, and I believe should, be able to own them too. Personally, I don’t have any hankering for a machine gun, because I like precision shooting and you can’t do that on full auto, and because I couldn’t afford to burn ammo at that rate. But I would lobby vehemently against efforts to take that right away from me if I had not given society a reason to take it away.

    Finally, beyond the Founders’ loathing of standing armies and preference for local militias, an additional thing that was on their minds was the awareness that people having guns would make it a lot harder for a future government to turn into a tyranny - they knew that if the colonials had not had their arms, they would never have been able to win their independence. That is still a valid reason for people to have guns (including semi-autos, at that) - in the unlikely but possible event (we know it’s possible because we know they’ve kicked the idea around in this White House) that the government responds to another terrorist attack or Katrina-type natural disaster by declaring martial law and deciding that the whim of someone like Dubya is the law, the whole law, and nothing but the law, those militias might be needed again.

    So - I don’t buy into all of the NRA’s positions, and I think that as with other rights, this one should be abridged when necessary due to a particular individual having been shown to be a risk to public safety, and I fully support an integrated state and federal system of background checks to screen out anyone with a history of violence or a mental disorder that makes them too unstable to be safe with a gun. There needs to be a system to carry out background checks when people buy guns at gun shows too - it would be easy to do; when I buy a gun at a store, I have to provide ID and a fair amount of other information, and then they run a check against a database to make sure I am not listed as “hell, no, don’t sell that thug/nut a gun!”

    I have bought several guns by mail, and the procedure there is that the seller has to ship the gun to a federally licensed dealer, and when I go to pick it up, I typically pay him a processing fee and go through the same process with the form and database check. So it’s not like UPS is dropping guns off at people’s houses. The BATFE folks can show up and audit the licensed dealer’s files and records any time, and they do, and if they find anything that isn’t right, they’ll shut him down and prosecute him.

    It would be simple to set up a spot at a gun show where a licensed dealer oversaw all sales and did exactly the same thing; the database check is done by phone, so it doesn’t take long - usually 15 minutes or so. They always have police present at gun shows, keeping an eye on everyone, and they are meticulous about tracking what guns people bring in and out.

    I am not willing to be disarmed because of a risk posed by other people. I have the right to own the guns I have as long as I behave in a stable and law-abiding way, and I don’t have to demonstrate any need to do so any more than I have to demonstrate a need to exercise my 1st Amendment rights, or any other part of the Bill of Rights.

  25. By Chris Radulich on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    The point about the fear of a standing army is that is why they encouraged the militia.

    Justice John Paul Stevens got it right in his dissent. He wrote that the Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people in the individual states to maintain a militia in response to concerns that the new Constitution gave Congress power to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army. That was viewed as an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the states. But neither the text of the amendment nor the arguments of its proponents give any evidence that it was intended to limit any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms, Justice Stevens wrote. “Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.”

    Having browsed through the first twenty pages in the pdf file I believe the argument can be boiled down to - We have decided to ignore the first section of the second amendment. The only reason given is that it was put there to prevent the federal government from disarming the militias. If that is the case it has no bearing on a DC law.

    Now I have no problem with expanding freedom. I am only believe that the second amendment does not support it. Also I still find it highly hypocritical to support something like this and then defend the patriot act. If you are willing to take the greater risk accompanying expanded gun owner ship because of freedom, then you should be willing to take the much smaller risk of terrorism to maintain our freedom.

  26. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    Ah. There’s the problem. You stopped browsing before the six page discussion of the first part of the amendment, beginning on page, um, 22, as a browsing of the first page of the decision, the summary, would have told you. When you actually have read that, you may come back and apologize for saying they ignored the first part of the amendment.

    It’s okay. I’ll wait.

    You won’t have to grovel, by the way. A simple, “You were right” will suffice.

    Unless you are aware of some definition of the word ignore by which a six page discussion can be called ignoring something. If so, please. I’m all ears…er…all eyes. I’ll be glad to read it. Otherwise…

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    My mistake. Actually, the first 28 pages of the decision proper are a discussion of the first part of the amendment. I guess you don’t have to pretend that you’ve read the thing and say you’ve browsed through anything. If you’d actually browsed through the first 20 pages, with anything like comprehension, you could not possibly have said that they ignored the first part of the amendment. So don’t bother with getting back to me with that apology. No amount of reading or browsing of the discussion in the decision will make you say anything other than that they ignore the first part of the amendment.

    Please…believe and say whatever you please about the decision…to someone who still cares what you have to say about it. I no longer do.

    Good bye!

  28. By Chris Radulich on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    Yes i did read it and yes the basically ignored it.

    From the decision ( italics added)

    “The right of the whole people, old and young, men,
    women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and
    bear arms of every description, and not such merely as
    are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed,
    or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and
    all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing
    up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally
    necessary to the security of a free State.
    Our
    opinion is, that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant
    to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes
    this right, originally belonging to our forefathers,
    trampled under foot by Charles I. and his two wicked
    sons and successors, re-established by the revolution
    of 1688, conveyed to this land of liberty by the colonists,
    and finally incorporated conspicuously in our
    own Magna Charta!”

    Once again it has to do with the militia. If they had wanted it to be a pure universal right they would not mhave had the preamble.

    The first amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    notice there is no preamble. The second amendment could have read the same.

    Perhaps, Craig, you should take a course in logic.

  29. By Chris Radulich on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    By the way notice that the first amendment is unequivical about the right of free speech and of the press. Yet even now there are trials going on about pornography. Something which every study has said causes no harm. Whatever logic is being used in those cases would could also be used to justify the DC law.

  30. By Dusty on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    We all have our opinions on the 2nd Amendment and the SCOTUS ruling. And since opinions are like assholes..well, you know the drill. ;)

    Thank you for everyone’s two-friggin-cents on this issue..now everyone have a great weekend..and don’t shoot anyone or get shot ok? BIO wants us all back to bitch and moan tomorrow.

  31. By Chris Radulich on Jun 27, 2008 | Reply

    Last but not least. Are there any laws in Dc that prohibit owning rifles? If not then they could certainly be used for self defense and since a rifle is a much better weapon than a hand gun, more useful to a militia.

  32. By Liberal Jarhead on Jun 28, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,
    Unless my info is wrong, the DC law allowed the ownership of rifles and shotguns, but required that they be kept unloaded and - I can’t remember which - either disassembled or locked up or both. In other words, pretty much useless if someone kicks in your front door.

    I absolutely agree that it would be hypocritical to support gun rights and also support the Patriot Act or advocate censorship of pornography, or any other censorship. I, for one, defend the First and Second Amendments with equal energy, and I detest the Patriot Act - it’s one of the things that tells me we need an armed populace as a safeguard against tyranny. It’s a cliche, but it’s true that one of the things totalitarians tend to do is to disarm their people. As the bumper sticker says, I fear the government that fears my gun.

  33. By Chris Radulich on Jun 28, 2008 | Reply

    Off the topic but perhaps that is one of the things wrong with America today. We believe we can legislate individual safety. While I believe that cars should be legislated to have seat belts, I do not believe in seat belt laws. Same for helmet laws and gun lock laws. We should be free to choose our own level of risk. I know the arguement is that society is better off such as not having too pay medical bills but I do not beleave it is worth the loss of freedom.

  34. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 28, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting. This may represent a trend, like the first domino in one of those complex structures made up of tens of thousands of dominoes that’s been pushed over by the Supreme Court’s Heller decision.

    One can hope, anyway.

    Scalia made it clear that his decision did NOT extend to the states but perhaps these local governments have seen the writing on the wall and have decided that it’s easier to ditch the bans than to fight a lawsuit to a Supreme Court that might decide that, while states and municipalities may constitutionally protect people’s rights to a greater degree than the federal Constitution does, they may not be more lax in their protection of rights that the federal Constitution protects.

    Chris,

    notice there is no preamble. The second amendment could have read the same.

    And if they’d meant the second amendment only to protect the rights of the states to maintain an armed militia, they could have concluded the amendment with “the states have a right to maintain an armed milita” rather than “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. If they’d meant to say only that individuals in the militia alone had a right to keep and bear arms, they might have concluded the amendment “the right of militia members to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. In fact they might have said a great number of things but they said what they said.

    What they said does not unambiguously say that the second amendment only protects a state or collective right to maintain a milita. Nor does it unambiguously say that it protects the rights of individual members of a state milita to maintain arms. It says that the people have a right to keep and bear arms that is essential to the security of a free state via a well regulated militia.

    Look, Chris. There’s nothing wrong with my logic. I have no desire to debate the merits of the decision’s discussion of the first part of the amendment or any other part of the amendment or even the result reached. I don’t think I’m qualified to judge a legal controversy between legal experts arguing at the highest level of expertise. I can say that the decision comports with my own reading of the second amendment but that’s all. Since I’m not a legal expert, my opinion is as good or bad as that of the non-legal expert. Even yours.

    All I’m saying is that a rational being with competence in the English language cannot read the decision and seriously argue that Scalia ignored the first part of the amendment. It’s not possible. I cannot imagine what is driving you to insist that the decision ignores the first part of the amendment but it’s just plain wrong and I’m not going to continue a discussion with someone as unserious as yourself on this matter.

    I’ll gladly have a serious discussion with serious persons on most any issue but I will not argue with someone who insists that a lengthy discussion of the first part of the amendment constitutes basically ignoring the first part of the amendment. There’s no future in it. There can be no agreement with someone who can maintain such a fiction. Words have meaning. Perhaps you need a good dictionary. Look it up. It may prove enlightening. I suspect not but give it a shot anyway.

    That is all.

  35. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 28, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    Even the small quote you gave from the decision contained a discussion of the first part of the amendment, thus, by your own fingers, disproving that the majority decision ignored the first part of the amendment. Of course, I could go through and give pages of discussion of the first part of the amendment from the decision but it would be pointless. You’ve read it. Fine. No point making you read it again. All I can say is, a decision that spends as much time discussing the first part of the amendment cannot be said to have ignored the first part of the amendment. As I said way up above:

    They do not ignore the first part of the amendment. They take the first part of the amendment to be saying that the uncontested need for security in a free state and its requirement for a well-regulated militia is the REASON that the right of the people to keep and bear arms must not be infringed. After all, the first part of the amendment doesn’t say that only members of the militia have a right to keep and bear arms. In other words, they aren’t ignoring it, they are disagreeing with you about what the first part of the amendment MEANS within the context of the second amendment.

    Ignore, verb:
    1. refuse to acknowledge;
    2. bar from attention or consideration;
    3. fail to notice
    4. give little or no attention to;
    5. be ignorant of or in the dark about

    And yet Scalia acknowledges the first part of the amendment throughout the decision; nowhere bars the first part of the amendment from attention or consideration; notices the first part of the amendment multiple times; gives lots of attention to the first part of the amendment; and, while you might think Scalia’s discussion of the first part of the amendment to evince ignorance of what you view to be its true meaning, he cannot be said to have ignored its existence. In short, you and Scalia disagree about what the first part of the amendment means within the context of the whole amendment, which is fair enough. Scalia does not ignore, basically or otherwise, the first part of the amendment.

  36. By Chris Radulich on Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

    But that is the essence of there decision. Yes we know there is a first part, yes we acknowldge it is there. However we are going to ignore it. Other wise the fact that it is a local law and not a national law would have had the case throw out to begin with.

    again from the decision

    The Antifederalists
    feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in
    order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing
    army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress
    power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear
    arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.

    The Second Amendment’s drafting history, while of dubious
    interpretive worth, reveals three state Second Amendment proposals
    that unequivocally referred to an individual right to bear arms.

    Which obvious means means they did not want to make it unequivocal.

  37. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    Honestly, I have no idea what it is you are trying to prove here. You are arguing about Scalia’s interpretation of the first part of the amendment, not about whether the majority ignored the first part of the amendment.

    The fact that the drafters did not make it the second amendment an unequivocal individual right is an argument from silence. Suppose I buy your interpretation and say that they did not want to make it an unequivocal reference to an individual right to bear arms. You still have not proven that it unequivocally does NOT protect an individual right to bear arms. That is because you cannot do so. The text is not unequivocal one way or another. Scholars, people who have spent scores of years thinking about these issues have failed to settle these issues. I’m supposed to suppose that YOU have settled the issue? Sorry, Chris, but I’m not that gullible.

    I’m done. No more. Have fun with your word games. I hope you find others to join you in them (The great legal scholar Kieth Olbermann, perhaps). Playing games seems so sad and pointless when you play them alone. I’m not playing. You can interpret the first part of the amendment in any way you choose. I decline to argue over your interpretation since I am no more qualified than you to give some sort of definitive legal interpretation of the Constitution. Suffice to say, your interpretation failed to convince a sufficient number of Justices to be the majority view.

    What occurs to me, and I’ve said it before, is this: The US Constitution means exactly and only what a plurality of Justices on the Supreme Court say it means at any given time, no more and no less. Just as I must live in a world where Roe v. Wade is constitutional law, a ruling so vacuous that it fails to convince even those who see a right to abortion in the Constitution, so you are forced to live in a world where the initial clause of the second amendment is read as marking nothing more than the reason why the ancient (i. e., existing long before the second amendment was written) individual right of the people to keep and bear arms is protected.

    Deal with it.

  38. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

    Perhaps they intentionally refused to make it unequivocal because they figured unequivocal was the only way to get the amendment passed. Thus, we are left with an equivocal text, one that does not unequivocally, unarguably state what it means. Such is the essence of passing laws in the absence of a large super-majority. It is so ubiquitous as to be commonplace.

    In short, you fail to persuade not just because you cling to a clear, out and out falsehood (that the majority decision ignored the first part of the amendment) but you advance invalid arguments, arguments that do not prove what you suppose they prove.

    Good night and good bye.

  39. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

    And when you say, “Other wise the fact that it is a local law and not a national law would have had the case throw out to begin with”, I think you err. D. C., because it is not a state or in a state but is the seat of the federal government, is under federal jurisdiction. According to Wikipedia:

    The United States Congress has supreme authority over Washington, D.C.

    However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the city council and intervene in local affairs.

    This, I think, makes it the jurisdiction of the federal court system, including the Supreme Court, otherwise, there would be no courts to rule on the constitutionality of local laws and regulations since the district, not being a state, has no equivalent of a state constitution. Any laws, however local, made within the District of Columbia are subject not only to Congress but to the Supreme Court oversight.

    I’m afraid there was never any chance of this being thrown out of court due to lack of jurisdiction or whatever theory you are trying to advance for it being thrown out. The Supreme Court was precisely the only ultimate venue for a test of the district’s gun laws, at least as I understand it.

  40. By Chris Radulich on Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

    I’m afraid there was never any chance of this being thrown out of court due to lack of jurisdiction or whatever theory you are trying to advance for it being thrown out. The Supreme Court was precisely the only ultimate venue for a test of the district’s gun laws, at least as I understand it.

    by that theory then this decision has no effect on the states.

  41. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    by that theory then this decision has no effect on the states.

    It doesn’t. Not directly. The decision makes clear that it does NOT extend to the states. Again, if you would actually read the decision, you wouldn’t need to be told that by me.

    However, indirectly, I think it already IS having an effect in the states. Wilmette has already put a moratorium on upholding its handgun ban. I expect others will follow. However, the decision makes it clear that it is not incorporating the second amendment to the states via the fourteenth amendment, as most of the other protections of the Bill of Rights have already been.

    For once, you make an absolutely true and unarguable statement of fact.

  42. By Chris Radulich on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    Since you read it please supply the quote. All the news stations seem to think this effects the whole US.

  43. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    With respect to [the nineteenth-century case of U.S. v.] Cruikshank’s continuing validity on incorporation, a question not presented by this case, we note that Cruikshank also said that the First Amendment did not apply against the States and did not engage in the sort of Fourteenth Amendment inquiry required by our later cases. Our later decisions in Presser v. Illinois (1886) and Miller v. Texas (1894) reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.

    Page 48, note 23 [All italics original in the decision; bold portions are mine to highlight my point].

    On the other hand, what the tv pundits may be suggesting is that they think that this court is ready to overturn those 100+ years of precedent, limiting the second amendment to the federal government and they may be, in some future case, willing to do so but this case doesn’t do it. Unlike most of the Bill of Rights, the second amendment has never been applied against the states and Heller is no exception. Now what they might decide in some future case, I refuse to predict but this one applies strictly to the federal government and strictly to D. C. and those areas under federal control, not to the states.

    The important thing to understand is that, in the entire history of the United States, no court has ever held the first amendment to apply against the states. The Heller decision, in this footnote, explicitly maintains this status quo.

    There’s nothing like actually carefully reading a decision one’s self. Relying upon tv pundits to tell you what the decision says is dangerous to one’s credibility. Studies show that news people in this country have almost no credibility left and are viewed as activists for their causes rather than as objective reporters. Don’t let your credibility go the way of the news world by relying upon what they say.

  44. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    By the way, the footnote quoted is on page 48 as numbered in the decision. It is not the 48th page of the .pdf file containing the decision. It is actually on the 51st page of the .pdf file.

  45. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    On the other hand, most of the protections in the Bill of Rights HAVE been incorporated to apply against the states, most of them during the 20th century. The second amendment never has been (even to this day) but I would not be surprised if that same incorporationist trend of extending the protections of the federal constitution to the states would, eventually, include the second amendment so I don’t mean to say that the Court won’t use some future suit to do so. I merely contend that THIS case, the Heller case, does not do that.

  46. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    I erroneously wrote, two comments above, the following sentence”

    The important thing to understand is that, in the entire history of the United States, no court has ever held the first amendment to apply against the states. The Heller decision, in this footnote, explicitly maintains this status quo.

    It should, properly and correctly, read:

    The important thing to understand is that, in the entire history of the United States, no court has ever held the second amendment to apply against the states. The Heller decision, in this footnote, explicitly maintains this status quo.

  47. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    Argh. My previous comment corrects a sentence from the third comment above the correcting comment.

  48. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 30, 2008 | Reply

    I should also state explicitly what many may assume to be the case: I would welcome the Supreme Court incorporating the second amendment to apply to the states. At the founding, it was assumed by the anti-federalists, especially, that the STATES were the protectors of the peoples’ rights and the states and the people needed to be protected from the power of the central government trying to remove those rights. However, since the time of war between the states (our civil war) and even before, it was becoming obvious that the states could deny its people rights as well as the central government could and that the power of the central government could and should be enlisted to protect rights that the states sometimes denied its people. Thus, the 13th through 15th amendments explicitly and for the first time, drew upon the federal government to enforce rights against states. It seems to me that the Court SHOULD take a look at state and local gun control laws and judge whether they impermissibly conflict with the people’s rights, just as the Court ruled that D. C.’s gun laws did.

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