The right to bear arms - few issues more clearly delineate that fault line between the collectivism of the liberal faith, on the one side, and the trust in individuals shared by my conservative brethren (and sistern).
Conservatives are rejoicing today that the U.S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller refused to repeal the Second Amendment. The District had one of the nation's most draconian gun laws. Individual citizens, in the sanctity of their own homes, were forbidden to possess handguns. Incredible, when you think about it.
Old Guard liberals
The old-guard liberals are on suicide watch. Here is Ed Garvey:
I sure miss Justices Brennan, Warren, Frankfurter and Black. Their decisions were interesting and erudite.
Thanks, Ed. "Interesting" and "erudite"? Translation: decisions with which you agree.
Now let's bring Paul "Fidel" Soglin on stage.
President Eisenhower appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice Brennan, President Ford appointed John Paul Stevens, Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Conner, and even the first President Bush appointed David Hackett Souter.
[The court majority are a bunch of] … right wing fanatics that mocks the Constitution, weakens our government, and carries the intellectual and scholarly weight of a carp. [ lamenting the "Nader Supreme Court"]
Translation: Why, oh why, can't Republicans, if they have to get themselves elected president, behave and appoint liberals to the Court? It's so unfair!
Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive:
The Supreme Court just came down with an atrocious decision on the right to bear arms. - Scalia Sprays the Second Amendment
Now for your Blaska reality check:
- Even Wisconsin allows the non-felonious to keep a handgun in their homes.
- A man's home is his castle. That goes back to British common law.
- True, D.C. "allowed" home owners to keep rifles and shotguns. But they had to keep them a) broken apart or b) with a trigger lock - thus frustrating any useful self-defense.
- Finally, can anyone say Brittany Zimmerman?
What it's all about, Alfie
The Second Amendment's strange construction, including the third comma, has challenged later generations:
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."
Liberals construe that to mean a collective - not individual - right: that guns are permitted by the government to the National Guard, the successor to militias. Indeed, Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent posits that the founders were "concern(ed) about the potential threat to state sovereignty that a federal standing army would pose." That totalitarian power - think Cuba or any other despot nation that trains its military upon its people - could be countered by armed resistance. But Stevens' hypothesis is internally flawed, if this humble Blogger may say, and for three reasons.
- If state militias could counter federal tyranny, who counters state tyranny? This is what is meant by "consent of the governed." No tyrant could raise an army big enough to subdue an armed electorate.
- It requires government to dole out the guns at its prerogative, not the people's. That, in itself, is a tyranny.
- It's bad history. When the Founders were writing their new Constitution, 18th Century America did not have well stocked armories. Even George Washington's Continental Army depended on its conscripts to provide their own weaponry. Thus, the "well regulated Militia" expected citizen soldiers who came locked and loaded.
One more argument: the 10 Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights in each and every case proscribes the federal government from impinging on the stated rights of the citizenry. The much-ignored 10th actually specifies that any rights the first nine amendments forgot to specifically enumerate go to the people. How's that for a tie-breaker!
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Why would Amendment #2 be the sole exception?
What's more, the D.C. handgun ban did not even achieve its stated goal of reducing crime. The Wall Street Journal quotes the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, representing 320,000 uniformed officers in the U.S., saying:
The strict gun laws in D.C. have clearly not been reflected in a lower violent crime rate.
Liberal fault lines
Imagine my surprise that The Cap(ital) Times sided with Justice Scalia's majority decision:
The notion that law-abiding citizens can be forced to give up their guns is a fantasy promoted by those who neither understand nor respect the healthy distrust of government that has always underpinned the American experiment.
Hellz Bellz, even Barack Obama is claiming that "he has always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms." Yes, the same arugula muncher who complained that bubba, in his ignorant bitterness, clings to guns and religion.
Further reading: In April, The Nation, of all publications, did a thoughtful re-examination of that one-time liberal shibboleth in Arms and the Right.
Sin Tax or Syntax?
Others have noted the racism of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Eugene Kane. Long a defender of the corrupt Ald. Michael McGee, convicted of extortion this week in a federal court, Kane now writes:
Why did McGee remain so popular in some parts of the black community even while accused of serious charges?
Seems to me, that answer is simple: McGee wasn't shaking down African-Americans.
He focused most of his dubious fund-raising efforts on Arab, Middle Eastern and Indian businessmen with liquor stores and gas stations in the black community. It's almost as if McGee was exacting his own personal "sin tax."
So, in addition to his adjudicated criminality, McGee is a racist, too. And what, Eugene Kane, is the sin that McGee was taxing?
Driving but one block from Stately Blaska Manor (Ruben Mamoulian having lost his provisional license) on a lazy Saturday afternoon in beautiful Orchard Ridge, a little girl of about 10 years pointed across the street and sang this three-syllable song:
I wheeled my fire-red, two-seat convertible sportster around to the opposite curb and beckoned the young lady's business partner, a similarly youthful lass seated at a table, that I could take a glass. The young entrepreneur grabbed the cold pitcher and, concentrating with all her being, poured a plastic cup full of the citric nectar and presented it over the empty passenger seat to its thirsty destination. Her reward was the stated price of 25 cents plus another quarter for her good service.
The equation goes like this: Lemonade stand + paying customer = two happy little girls.
Do many children sell lemonade as they did in my youth, when Norman Rockwell was very much alive?
As I drove away, the salesman of the duo chirped: "You sure have a pretty car, Mister."
Lemonade stand + paying customer = two happy little girls + happy motorist.