Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The other huge news yesterday (beside Obama trying to explain how racism is sometimes acceptable) was the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in the case D.C. vs. Heller.

This is a very important case. I am watching it like a hawk because of my own personal views and what I see as the potential continued erosion of the most important of our civil rights. For, if not for the promise you can protect yourself, the other rights can be taken away. It really is that simple.

For the uninformed, let's recap the case.

For 30-some odd years, Washington D.C. has had one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Their law makes it illegal for a person to have a handgun in their home for protection. Moreover, any other weapon in the home must be disassembled or trigger-locked and unloaded to be legal.

A gentleman by the name of Heller, an armed security guard by trade, petitioned the city for a license to have a handgun at home for protection but was denied. And then, he filed suit as he felt that his Second Amendment rights were being infringed. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found for Heller et al, striking down parts of the law in question as unconstitutional.

You can find all kinds of good stuff on this at the SCOTUSblog, by the way.

The first issue at hand in the case is whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right or a general one to the states - that is, whether Joe and Jane Nobody can have a gun or whether this is reserved for state militias.

In my opinion, this militia argument has always been crap. The amendment quite clearly states "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Pretty clear, right? I mean, you can't say that the founding fathers meant "the states" when they said "the people" and then only say they meant it this way in this one place. Otherwise, you start screwing with a bunch of the enumerated rights of the people, such as the right of the people to peaceably assemble. Is this only for the states too? Is freedom of speech only for newspapers? Of course not.

There are a slew of other issues with the case, however. No civil right has ever been viewed as an absolute. Even freedom of speech requires that you not fraudulently shout fire in a crowded theater. So, the question remains of what are the reasonable restrictions to the Second Amendment.

Chief Justice John Roberts perhaps said it best yesterday when he asked of the court yesterday, "What's reasonable about a total ban on possession?"

From the questions that the justices asked of the parties, it seems likely that a majority of the justices will find that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right. And frankly, that's just good news. The other issues are likely to be muddled somewhat, and no formal decision is expected until June, but even so, this is good news. I did not want to live in a country that would deny me the right to stop my would-be rapist dead in his tracks.

I know that there are people out there who hate guns, friends of mine even. But, this is fear, pure and simple. They see images in the media and the news which frighten them. They are fortunate that they've never been confronted with violence and not been able to defend themselves. I have. But then, I also grew up around guns and am comfortable with them. I don't see a gun as a threat unless it is pointed at me. In fact, I actually see knives as a greater threat, but that's me. I wish we all lived in a violence-free utopia, but that isn't realistic. There are bad guys out there. There are villains who prey on the weak and unarmed. If you want to be one of them, that's up to you, but I have a natural right to defend my life and liberty, the life and liberty of my family, and my property. I'm not talking about cattle rustlers, but rapists and home invaders.

I'm not comfortable waiting for the cops to come (assuming I live long enough to dial 911). I'm not comfortable with their response times. For example, as a teenager I lived with my mother, stepfather, and family in a very affluent Chicago suburb. We came home one evening (Veterans Day, I believe) to find that the house had been burgled. We called the local police and do you know how long it took them to arrive? An hour and a half. AN HOUR AND A HALF! I'm talking about a very safe community with next to no crime that wasn't teenage graffiti. I'm talking about a town with a 25 mph speed limit, border-to-border, and a reputation for enforcing said speed limit to within a mile. And yet, when something real did happen it took them an hour and a half. Forgive me, then, if I don't think they are going to come rushing to my aid when they have been warned that the bad guy is still on the premises.

Practicality aside, I've never been comfortable relying on others, preferring to rely on myself. My interpretation of natural rights and that identified in the Second Amendment is consistent with that. I get to protect myself, as my first line of defense, from those who would do me harm. Period.

I'm thinking we should have some sort of celebration, if merited, when the decision comes out. I mean, Kelo sucked, but this one looks to fall our way.


posted by Phoenix | 9:07 AM


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