The Supreme Court finally bit the bullet, ruling on the good old Second Amendment for the first time since the Dirty Thirties. Wow! “The people” have an individual right to keep and bear arms?!? One needn’t be enlisted in either the National Guard or Militia of Montana?!? Shazam! Handsprings and cartwheels!
While some pundits feel gun control has been defused as a political bomb, I disagree – gladly.
First, the 157-page ruling, over half of which was dissent, is basically the two sides shouting past each other. Whether you see the warring opinions as holy writ or blasphemy depends on if your rifling twists right – or left.
Second, the Supremes did almost nothing to settle the long-running battle over “What Guns Government Can Keep Away From You.”
The camps have long split into “All” or “None,” and with the Supremes saying “Some But Not All,” the fight’s already on about what “Some” might be. Lawsuits against gun bans in both San Francisco and Chicago have already been filed, with more on the way.
It should be interesting. Fun, too. The high-muckety-media histrionics have been comical. One howler was a clueless-as-usual Washington Post editorial harrumphing that Washington DC may still “devis[e] regulations that can provide for rational management of gun ownership.”
“Rational management?” Snrk …
For the sake of argument, isn’t “rational management” of printing-press ownership a terrific idea, limiting it to those who scrupulously adhere to known facts? Oh, the high dudgeon! Why, people would rise up in ARMS, for heaven’s sake!
Imagine this: Two talking heads, brows furrowed, power ties immaculately knotted, pompously declaiming how to “rationally” destroy (excuse me, MANAGE) the right they disfavor:
Second: “Guns can be dangerous.”
First: “Editorials can be dangerous.”
Second: “Gun owners need a government permit.”
First: “Journalists need government permits.”
Second: “People should be made to wait ten days before buying a gun.”
First: “Reporters and editors should cool off ten days before writing.”
Second: “We must ban guns that fire more than one shot in rapid succession.”
First: “We must ban printing presses that print more than one page in rapid succession. And those Web servers! Millions of hits per hour? Dangerous!”
Second: “Oh, but that’s different! Guns can bring down a government!”
First: “And free speech can’t?”
The question here is, how should Americans respond to those seeking “rational management” of any of our civil liberties?
I suggest we start by recognizing that our civil liberties are already rationally managed. Those who abuse their civil rights, or those of others, i.e., convicted criminals or those officially deemed mentally incapable, lose some of the rights of citizenship. But unless a judge or shrink or jury deems so, your rights as a citizen – all of them, not just the right to bear arms – Shall Not Be Infringed.
Our Bill of Rights, including the rest of the freedom Amendments, is a pretty amazing package. Our founders pushed the frontiers of human freedom so far ahead of the rest of the world, the world may never catch up – although I hope it does.
But America could go back. For example, sprawl activists are always after “rational management” of Fifth Amendment rights. Never mind the lefties, who provably dominate most First Amendment instruments, craving “rational management” of evil right-wing talk radio through a rebirth of the “Fairness Doctrine.” More seriously, the Patriot Act has done a smokin’ job with “rational management” of our Fourth Amendment rights. What about Gitmo? Don’t terrorists at least deserve equal justice under the law before we “rationally manage” them?
Something to think about, anyway.
A good old First Amendment shootout over the Second might well be precisely what America needs. I hope using one freedom to fight over another helps all of us understand why it is so important to keep ALL of the Bill of Rights.
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