Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gun Rights Ruling

By now you have probably heard that the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 decision, struck down the DC law banning hand gun ownership. It's pretty big news and has potential ramifications nationwide - the NRA is already preparing lawsuits in Chicago, San Fran, and elsewhere to challenge gun restrictions based on this ruling.

I have only read the AP report and a few taglines on the blogosphere, so I won't claim any great scholarship or wisdom on this issue. Frankly, it's not an issue that is "close to my heart" although maybe it should be.

That being said, I think it's pretty incredible that my country finds it permissible to illegally spy on its citizens for their "protection" - something that clearly violates the constitution - and yet people are more "up in arms" about their alleged gun rights than their right to privacy, due process, etc. Considering that the vast majority of Americans are more likely to be illegally monitored by the nanny state of George Bush than they are to own a gun, I find that troubling.

Further, I see nothing in the following text that suggests that regulation or restriction of arms is unconstitutional:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Frankly, Scalia et al are just making sh*t up if they think that gun restrictions are unconstitutional. It's pure politics because their is no intelligent argument to suggest that say, an assault rifle ban would infringe on the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms". The only potential argument they have is a slippery slope that doesn't exist.

Now, as challenges to gun laws spread across the country, we face the very real risk that much of the work of the last 30 years to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, drunks, and idiots is going to be undone. And I, personally, find myself out of step with the majority once again. I would find it extremely difficult to agree with anyone who thinks that there should not be background checks, waiting periods, registries, and restrictions. And the logical implication of this ruling is that all of those things are "infringements" on the right to bear arms.

This ruling touches on two other factors. One, I think it shows, yet again, why we can't risk employing John McCain or any other Republican in the White House over the next 8 years. The Supreme Court will soon be facing turnover and anyone who values individual freedom, privacy rights, and more would be wise to preference Obama. Because as Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas show, GOP appointees tend to be partisan hacks with an extreme view of America.

The second point relates more generally to the country of my birth. It's a country that I love and will live in again someday soon. But I increasingly find myself out of tune with what the majority of Americans believe, want, or value. All things being equal, the last 8 years have shown that in America, the only common value is economics. Gun rights are supported by a powerful lobby because the gun industry has huge financial resources that they flex to win that support. Wall Street faces troubles for their own gambling speculation and they immediately get bailed out by the Federal Government while individual Americans who either took the same gamble or were duped into thinking they could afford that mortgage are left to suffer. International human rights concerns are only as important as our trading partner (wouldn't want to upset China with any condemnation of Sudan now would we?). Voluntary wars are waged to secure American oil and security interests in a region of the world where we have few friends and many enemies. And so on. America would sell its soul to the Devil for a 1Q profit that exceeded Wall Street expectations.


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