Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thanks, Supremes

Boy, did the Supreme Court do Barack Obama a solid today. Never mind gay marriage amendments. Can you imagine the furor among conservatives had the court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment does not allow for individuals to own guns? They would have forgetten real quick whatever beef they have with John McCain as he fell all over himself promising to appoint gun-loving judges to the high court.

Besides, the court's ruling leaves plenty of wriggle room for sensible restrictions on gun ownership:

But the court held that the individual right to possess a gun “for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” is not unlimited. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” Justice Scalia wrote.

The ruling does not mean, for instance, that laws against carrying concealed weapons are to be swept aside. Furthermore, Justice Scalia wrote, “The court’s opinion should not 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.” (link)

In other words, the Second Amendment is no more absolute than any of our other constitutional protections, just about all of which have had some kind of Supreme Court-approved sanctions imposed on them throughout the history of the republic. Somehow, I doubt that little nuance will merit much attention by those who praise the wisdom of today's ruling.

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Blogger EdHeath said...

Well, the decision was absolute about right to own a gun and keep it in your house for self defense. The ruling apparently goes on to describe a handgun as the best weapon for home defense since you can point it at someone while you are phoning the police with your other hand.

But it has been pointed out that DC’s handgun ban hadn’t kept the city from having a high gun murder rate. Quite possibly the District could institute a ban on carrying a concealed loaded gun on your person (as opposed to placing ammunition in the trunk of your car and a handgun in a locked case on the passenger seat. That might be more effective in reducing gun violence, as long as DC hires enough cops to man random gun checkpoints on city streets.

The real cure for gun violence is to get adults into decent jobs and kids learning in decent schools, to give everyone a stake in their own community. But I remember the PBS News Hour did a series of stories about how DC schools are failing their kids (in the face of declining enrollment and the No Child Left Behind law, schools are closing). And I expect business are not locating inside urban DC.

12:49 PM


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