TriggerFinger


Post-Constitutionalism?

Marty Lederman thinks that the original meaning and plain text of the Constitution have no real relevance to judicial interpertation anymore, and that the real argument in Heller will be:

I therefore agree with Akhil that the justices are much more likely to decide the case not upon evidence from text or original understanding of the Second Amendment (although such matters will undoubtedly pepper their various written opinions), but instead based upon whether they are persuaded that (in Akhil's words) "Americans have established, merely by living our lives freely across the country and over the centuries, certain customary rights that governments have generally respected; basic rights [that] are simply facts of life, the residue of a virtually unchallenged pattern and practice on the ground in domains where citizens act freely and governments lie low."

As noted below, however, I'm less certain than Akhil which way such a consideration will (or should) cut with respect to D.C.'s restrictions in the Heller case, because it turns out the district does not prohibit the use of all firearms for self-defense in one's home.

I hope he's wrong about the standards the justices will use to decide the case, but I can't say what lurks in the secret heart of a black-robed justice.  All I can do is read their opinions, which pay frequent homage to the original language and text, especially when there is no preexisting maze of precedent to confuse the issue.

But I KNOW he's wrong about DC law permitting the use of any firearm for self-defense.  He continues the argument:
Well, as it happens, the District of Columbia does not prohibit its residents from having a gun in their homes for purposes of self-defense. (Indeed, the District virtually concedes that such an absolute ban would be unconstitutional.) D.C. residents can't keep handguns in their homes; but they may own "long guns," such as rifles and shotguns, as long as they use trigger-locks on such weapons. And, the District construes its trigger-lock requirement to permit owners to disable the lock where required for self-defense. (Heller argues that under D.C. law he may not unlock a rifle to defend himself against a sudden intruder in his home. But that's a reading of the statute against Heller's own interest -- a reading that would exacerbate, not alleviate, serious constitutional questions -- and the District concedes that Heller may use his rifle for self-defense.)
There is no self-defense exception in the law.  There ARE other exceptions, such as for recreational shooting at a range, so it's not like the District's legislators didn't know how to include an exception to the law.  If you unlock and load your home defense firearm to resist an attacker, you can be charged and convicted.  It has happened to people in the past.

I find one aspect of his argument particularly surreal.

Lederman claims that even if the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to own a firearm in the home, it does not do so for purposes of self defense.  He's right that the right of self-defense is not explicitly protected.  That's because the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed at all -- not for any purpose.  That protects the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, for hunting, for resisting a tyrannical government, for target shooting, for historical reenactment, for holding armed tea parties, and even for performing the 1812 overture should someone be so inclined. 

Tue Mar 18 10:18:44 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Clever, but scary

The Boston Globe has an opinion piece from Robert Levy, who is involved with the Heller case.  The first half of the page is taken up by a picture of a huge handgun with "Not to be used for self-defense" engraved on the barrel.  I'll give them credit for a clever graphic, but the placement and size is likely to give anyone with hoplophobia a good case of the shivers.  I wonder if that was deliberate.
If the district's outright ban on all handguns, in all homes, at all times, for all purposes, is determined by the court to pass muster, it will mean that the Supreme Court intends to rubberstamp just about any regulation that a legislature can dream up - no matter whether the government has offered any justification whatsoever, much less a justification that would survive strict scrutiny. That would, in effect, excise the Second Amendment from the Constitution. A right that cannot be enforced is no right at all.
What he said.

It's time the courts took the 2nd Amendment seriously.  Total bans on functional firearms in the home need to come off the table.

Tue Mar 18 09:40:26 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

USA today takes unnecessary swipe at 2nd

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.

You will recognize that as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. If a student of mine wrote a sentence like that, I'd scrawl in the margin "WDTM," and he or she would recognize that as, "What does this mean?"
The meaning would be quite clear to anyone from the period, and remains quite clear to us despite the mildly archaic language.  All you need to do is read the plain operative language protecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms from infringement.  The militia clause is explanatory, and expresses no limits upon the operative clause.  Of course that won't stop anyone from arguing, but when you remove the emotional investment from the argument the language really is clear.

Aside from the linguistic criticism, the editorial has other issues.  The author hopes that the "national debate about guns" will be reopened by this case (and he's probably going to get his wish), and states "This is not an anti-gun diatribe", but then immediately becomes an anti-gun diatribe.  He goes so far as to insist on a Congressional mandate for firearm design that bans any gun not "optimal" for hunting or target shooting, which apparantly includes any firearm holding more than 6 rounds of ammunition -- which effectively bans any magazine-fed firearm. 

I have no idea what he thinks this will accomplish, or how he plans to enforce it.  Just file it under even more idiocy.

Tue Mar 18 09:33:30 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Still Deadly in DC

Oral arguments in Heller v DC are approaching fast, and the editorials are coming in rapidly too.  The Star-Tribune has some strong words.  (Registration required for anything past the first page)
Notwithstanding its ban, the district consistently ranks among the deadliest cities in America, frequently earning the title of "nation's murder capital" and periodically announcing "crime emergencies" that the city's leaders seem powerless to stop. By contrast, Vermont, which has no gun laws to speak of, is among the least-violent states in the nation. Nationally, gun bans and similar restrictions have been utterly ineffective in reducing crime. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences conducted exhaustive studies and could not identify a single gun-control provision that had a meaningful impact on gun violence. Perhaps that's why no state in the country bans home possession of handguns -- let alone all functional firearms -- like Washington, D.C., does.
Bill Quick points out that the plaintiffs are actually pulling their punches.

I'd say it's a strategic decision to emphasize self-defense as the most relevant reason for the right's existance today.  Reminding people that the 2nd Amendment exists to enable the people to resist and overthrow a tyrranical government makes them nervous.

Both he and I saw the article at Alphecca's first.

Tue Mar 18 09:17:20 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The New York Times on Heller

Linda Greenhouse has an article on the Heller case in yesterday's New York Times.  It's surprisingly balanced, and includes some interesting commentary on the split between Cheney and the Department of Justice.  However, I didn't notice any additional factual information, just more explanation.

Tue Mar 18 09:16:54 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lamar Smith on Heller...

Short version:
Congress has the authority to impose some restrictions on certain constitutionally protected liberties. These restrictions, however, cannot eliminate the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution or render them meaningless and ineffective. The Washington gun ban clearly is unconstitutional because it does not merely limit Second Amendment rights -- it eliminates them.
The author is a member of the House of Representatives.

Tue Mar 18 09:16:32 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A deceptive editorial from the Washington Post...

Naughty, naughty journalists, your bias is showing:
Law enforcement officers across the country who grapple with the realities of crime are some of the fiercest advocates for meaningful gun regulation, including background checks and bans on private ownership of certain types of weapons, such as machine guns, that serve no legitimate purpose outside a military context. We wholeheartedly agree.
The DC Gun Ban concerns handguns and functional rifles and shotguns.  It absolutely does not concern machine guns or background checks.  Rifles, shotguns, and handguns in the home for self-defense.
If the justices affirm the individual rights approach, the government then must shoulder the burden of proving that any restriction on that right is justified. Some gun rights advocates argue that the government's burden should be substantial. We strongly disagree.
The Post would rather have an insubstantial burden that the government hardly notices at all when enacting firearms laws.  Would they say the same if their particular ox, the First Amendment, was being gored?  I doubt it.
If the justices recognize an individual right, they can and should allow lawmakers maximum flexibility to enact reasonable regulation. In our view, that flexibility should include the District's law, which is aimed at taking the most dangerous guns off the streets of what was once one of the nation's most dangerous cities.
Isn't it interesting how they come back to referencing "the most dangerous guns"?  They haven't ever spelled out what DC law actually is, aside from the earlier reference to "machine guns" and "background checks".  They are lying by implication, and they are doing it deliberately.  They want you to think that the Heller case is about machine guns, military weapons, and background checks.  It's not. 

It's about ordinary rifles, ordinary shotguns, ordinary handguns.

Tools that police officers carry every day, and that every hunter would recognize.  Tools that are used in self-defense anywhere from 600,000 to 2.5 million times per year.

Do you doubt me?  Here's their news article from the same day:
Despite mountains of scholarly research, enough books to fill a library shelf and decades of political battles about gun control, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity this week that is almost unique for a modern court when it examines whether the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment.
Handgun ban.  Not machine guns, not background checks.
The stakes are obviously high for the District, which passed the nation's strictest gun-control law in 1976, just after residents were granted the authority to govern themselves. It virtually bans the private possession of handguns, and requires that rifles and shotguns in the home be kept unloaded and disassembled or outfitted with a trigger lock.
Those laws, requiring rifles and shotguns be kept unloaded and disassembled or trigger locked, do not have any exceptions for self-defense.  If you unlock your firearm to defend yourself from a burglar you will be tried and convicted.

Oh, and did I mention what you have to go through in order to get your rifle or shotgun?

They can't win an honest debate, so they have to resort to lying.  Despicable.

Tue Mar 18 09:14:42 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

The So-Called Capital of the Free World

A while back I ran a series, submitted by a reader who requested anonymonity, on the process of buying a rifle in DC.  Not a scary "assault weapon", definitely not a .50 BMG "weapon of mass destruction"... just a normal, single shot, hunting rifle.

Since people keep talking about how DC law allows the possession of rifles or shotguns for self-defense in the home, I thought I would repost the series to explain exactly what is involved in the process of obtaining a firearm for your home.  Never mind that the law doesn't actually allow you to have a working rifle or shotgun in your home, the theory is that the judge would have mercy on you if you claimed you assembled the gun while your attacker beat you up.  Suppose that you were allowed to have a functional gun for self-defense if you went through the proper process.

Here's what you would have to do to buy a firearm legally in The So-Called Capital of the Free World:

Tue Mar 18 09:02:02 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Washington Times on Heller

Overall, a good (and lengthy) background piece.

Tue Mar 18 09:01:11 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Joe Huffman has an email from someone in line for Heller...

right here.  He's got a straw poll of the line-waiters:
Almost everyone was a law student, almost no one would qualify as a "gunnie" (well, maybe a small handful) but nearly everyone was on the side of Heller, advocating for a strong Second Amendment. The conversations were electric, a bunch of well educated, thoughtful, intelligent people self selected for a historic moment. When was the last time you saw a line of people hanging out reading legal briefs?
From this and other evidence, I think public opinion is on our side, when the details of the case are known.  When the media succeeds in playing deceptive gatekeeper, though, it's a closer question.

Tue Mar 18 08:57:47 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Why the DC Gun Ban is Unconstitutional...

... at least according to the Heritage Foundation.  It's not particularly well put together.

Tue Mar 18 08:47:54 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Good luck and godspeed, sir!

Oral arguments in the Heller case this morning.  Good luck to our team.  All our hopes and fears rest on their shoulders.

Tue Mar 18 00:17:48 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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Mon Mar 17 23:02:54 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

SCOTUSBlog will have full coverage of Heller

Oral argument in Heller starts at 10am EST.  SCOTUSBlog is promising full coverage.  I won't be able to give it my FULL attention, but I'll probably listening to the oral arguments when they are released and posting comments on them.  

Mon Mar 17 14:19:39 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Legal Times article on Heller

Alan Gura and Robert Levy (both involved with the Heller case) have an article in Legal Times discussing it.  They effectively shred the opposition's arguments in clear, easily-accessible language.  Think of this as a cliff-notes version that you can give to your friends and family to explain the issues at stake in 5 minutes rather than 5 months.

Mon Mar 17 12:48:37 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Will an individual-right ruling in Heller disrupt criminal law?

They seem to be a bit concerned that it might over at the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, but I think they are engaging in scare tactics rather than substance.  The Heller case is likely to generate a narrow ruling that overturns the law challenged, while possibly outlining a test for the lower courts to use in other cases.  Since felon in possession laws are not challenged there's basically no chance of them being overturned in this specific case.

Granted, later challenges will almost certainly be filed against other laws.  But it's well established that a felony conviction can legitimately remove or restrict fundamental civil rights, with the obvious example being voting.  I don't necessarily agree with this -- anyone who can't be morally trusted with a gun and ballot probably should be in prison -- but it's pretty well settled law.  I would be surprised if felon-in-possession challenges get taken seriously. 

There does exist a procedure for restoration of gun rights if you can get your felony conviction expunged, and that will probably be counted as sufficient deference to the 2nd Amendment for felons so long as that procedure is funded.  The last I heard it was not funded, though some recent changes to the law might have done something about that.

The other concern is sentence enhancements for gun possession.  There are some applications of this law that probably will be challenged, and probably should be overturned; is it really fair and honest to add 10 years to someone's sentence for being a gun owner while committing some crime that isn't connected to a gun? 

Yet I see no reason to fear for sentence enhancements on crimes actually involving a gun, since there is clearly a rational basis for such.  Threatening to shoot someone is clearly a more serious matter than threatening to beat them up or stab them. 

Mon Mar 17 11:52:37 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Palmer and Delinger on the Heller Case

Palmer is one of the plaintiffs in the Parker case (as it was known before the district court), but he was dropped from the Supreme Court case.  Delinger is an attorney defending the District's gun control law.  They argue.  It's not a bad segment, reasonably balanced; Palmer is definitely an effective advocate.
  • The anti-gun position is definitely several steps back from the letter of the law concerning functional firearms for self-defense; there is no exception in the law to allow you to unlock your firearm for use in self-defense, but they keep trying to claim there is.
  • One of Palmer's better points: for 29 of the 30 years after the ban, murder rates in the District were higher than the year of the ban; in addition, for the five years prior to the ban, murder rates were falling, but they went back up again as soon as the ban was passed.
  • Palmer (paraphrased): There is no statistical evidence that gun control makes us safer.  Delinger: Police have lots of evidence.  But in truth, Palmer is right: a CDC study looked under every rock they could find for statistical evidence that gun control reduces crime, and found nothing.
  • The question Delinger can't answer: if a criminal breaks into your home at 2am, would you rather have in your hand a phone -- or a gun?

Mon Mar 17 11:26:56 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Nelson Lund on the 2nd Amendment

This is a PDF from the Heritage foundation, about 8 pages of reasoned argument.  I found one passage particularly noteworthy:
Respect for the original meaning of the Second Amendment requires that its language be applied -- faithfully and appropriately -- to contemporary society, which is, in important respects, quite different from that of two centuries ago. With respect to the right to arms, the concern that was foremost for the founding generation -- fear of a tyrannical federal government -- has subsided. At the same time, the military power of the government has become overwhelming, which greatly diminishes, though does not eliminate, the potential of an armed citizenry to deter governmental oppression.
While fear of a tyrannical federal government has mostly subsided, I would suggest that the object of that fear has been in many ways realized.  We now have a Federal government that no longer answers to the will of the people, but instead prefers to fill the void of their apathy.

On The Volokh Conspiracy, Alan Gura (counsel on the case for Heller) has noted that Lund's summary of his position is "not remotely accurate" in the comments, so take with appropriate grains of salt.

Mon Mar 17 11:06:04 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

American Constitution Society briefing on Heller..

You can get various audio and video formats.  Moderated by Dahlia Lithwick, with Dave Kopel (Independence Institute), Carl Bogus (law professor), and John Payton (NAACP legal defense fund).  Seems to me Dave is outnumbered.  There are lengthy opening statements from each panel member:
  • John Payton covers historical context for the 2nd Amendment, trying to imply that the purposes was to prevent the Federal government from disarming state militias.
  • Dave Kopel covers practical uses of guns in preventing and discouraging violent crime.
  • Carl Bogus backs up John Payton and makes the further argument that the militia system was primarily used to suppress slave insurrections.
I must say it was amusing to hear the parties in this case demonized as "radical libertarians".  Not that they aren't libertarians... but the speaker is practically spitting as his describes "radical libertarians" who want to protect the right to "go to war with their own government" as "anathema to constitutional democracy".

There's a brief discussion on the Bush Administration's schizophrenia on the case.

Mon Mar 17 11:02:12 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An interesting 4th Amendment question...

... over at The Liberty Papers. Do the police need a warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to your car in order to follow you? 

Normally, I'd say yes.  If you are going to follow someone everywhere they go in public, I'd say you should need a warrant.  Doubly so if you are actually attaching something to them or their property in order to do so.  I doubt the law actually agrees with me on this point, though, as it considers movements in public to have no "expectation of privacy"...

I do think that there's an additional threat raised by cheap surveillance devices such as were used here, and as cell phones have now become.  It's expensive to hire enough police officers to do a full-time stakeout on a suspect, so there are pressures to avoid spending time and effort on that unless it's very likely to be productive.  But if you can do it easily and cheaply with technology, we have to fall back on legal protections to prevent a true surveilance society.

There are some other issues at play in the specific case being described in the article, though.  The person being followed was a registered sex offender, targetted for the operation due to being on the sex offender registry and living near the scene of repeated sexual assaults, and appears to be guilty (he was arrested allegedly committing another attack and there were not any further attacks after his arrest).  Seems to be they would have trouble getting a warrant on those facts if they had tried, but even so got the right person.

One of the relevant Supreme Court cases includes the following quote:
A person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements.
It's easy to agree with this principle when you would need to hire three people full-time to follow your target everywhere they went in order to make use of the lack of privacy.  But in a modern surveillance state where toll roads use individually-identifiable RFID tags to record (and charge tolls on) individuals based on where they drive their car, the barrier to complete surveillance is a lot lower.

Fri Mar 14 12:11:30 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lots of articles on gun rights in DC lately...

... probably because the Heller oral arguments are on the 18th of this month, just under a week away.  Let's open with Reason's article, which makes many of the same points I have, particularly about Tribe's earlier editorial misleading people about the legality of self-defense with long guns.  Here's a particularly juicy quote from DC's lawyers that I didn't have:
"It cannot be seriously contended that the Second Amendment, even if applicable, guarantees private persons a right of ownership or possession of firearms on the basis of an asserted need to resort to self-help,"
Well, OK, they have a point... the 2nd Amendment guarantees private persons the right to ownership, possession, and carry of firearms for any lawful purpose.   The Amendment doesn't play favorites, it simply guarantees the right to keep and bear arms to the people.

TownHall has a similar article, effectively titled Safety in Defenselessness

The Washingtonian asks do you want this next to your bed?  They do have one particularly telling quote.  After describing a case where a DC resident was convicted of carrying a handgun that he had used to shoot a burglar:
Plesha's shooting of Jones is what the DC Council was trying to stop in 1976 when it passed a stringent gun law. Responding to polls that showed three out of four residents favored a handgun ban, DC's first elected council voted 12-1 to make it illegal for all but police officers to own handguns.
Granted, the admitted burglar was allegedly shot in the back while fleeing.  But frankly I'm not inclined to second-guess the homeowner in that situation, and it's nonetheless a very telling quote.  DC's ban on defensive firearms prevents self-defense.  But it gets better:
"What we are doing today will not take one gun out of the hands of one criminal," Barry said.
That's Marion Barry, who is justly famous for his criminal escapades as the District's Mayor. 
Up and running now with a force of 29, the Gun Recovery Unit has seized 94 handguns, three assault rifles, nine shotguns, and 11 rifles since November 1.  "If you keep recovering guns," Sloan says, "violence has to go down."
Except it doesn't.  It's been 32 years of that failed policy, and during that time the city's murder rate has never gone below where it was when the ban was passed in 1976.
Born in Pittsburgh, Sloan, 48, came to DC in 1986 and joined the police department two years later. He made sergeant in 1993 and has focused on guns ever since.  "The criminal element is carrying guns more than in the past," he says. "More guys are carrying more guns. More are willing to use them."
That would mean that the ban isn't working... and maybe it's time to let honest folk defend themselves, since the police cannot.
Douglas Gansler, Maryland's attorney general, began his legal career as a federal prosecutor in DC, locking up violent criminals. "I saw how effective a tool DC's gun-control law could be in taking criminals off the streets," he says.
So effective that "more guys are carrying more guns" and are "more willing to use them."

Don't get the wrong impression about the Washingtonian article; it includes excellent profiles on plaintiffs Heller, Parker, Tracey Hanson, and Gillian St. Lawrence, plus Robert Levy who backed the suit, and pro-gun Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell.

Anticipation is definitely in the air.

Thu Mar 13 11:33:46 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Catch-22...

DRJ at Patterico's points to a "peeping tom" case that was dismissed by the court because it took place in public, ruling that the law under which the person was charged did not allow for an expectation of privacy when in public.  Patterico notes that this would mean that no one, even in public, has an expectation of privacy beneath their clothes (the offense here was someone sneaking a picture up a girl's skirt), and suggests that the legislature will rapidly correct the oversight by allowing for an expectation of privacy, in public, for people wearing clothes.

Unintended Consequence: security scanning equipment, which uses sonar to create a detailed body image through a person's clothes, will violate the expectation of privacy and become subject to the 4th Amendment's warrant-or-consent requirements.  Simultaneously, all of Hollywood's paparrazi will declare bankruptcy.

Thu Mar 13 10:51:47 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Not satisfied with violating the 2nd Amendment...

DC has now decided to violate the 4th Amendment.  Emulating a program that I first heard about in Boston, they will be sending police door-to-door "asking" for permission to search homes for guns and drugs.  They spin it as an amnesty, but they indicate that guns seized in these searches will be tested to see if they had been used in crimes, and investigations will be opened if so.  The only amnesty appears to be for the "crime" of simple possession, which the Supreme Court will likely be striking down shortly in any case.
The program will begin March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington, where officers will go door to door asking residents for permission to search their homes. It will then expand to other areas of the city.
I really don't have a clue what they think they will accomplish with this.  The only thing that maybe makes a little bit of sense would be an attempt to confiscate as many firearms as possible while they are still "illegal" (ie, before the Supreme Court can rule on the Heller case, and while the opinion from the DC Appeals Court is stayed pending the appeal to the Supreme Court).  If they sweep the whole city for firearms, confiscating as many as they can find, they can then make it hard to replace those firearms legally. 

It's already very, very hard to legally acquire firearms in the District, even of those types supposedly permitted.  If they can keep that process in place they can make it difficult for residents to legally replace firearms they had owned previously (perhaps illegally, but with honest intentions).  There are likely to be a lot of prominent people who fall into that category, more than most would realize.  In addition, I would not be surprised if the police kept records of guns they confiscated, and treated possession of an "illegal" firearm discovered in this search as a reason to deny someone's application to purchase a firearm in the future.

I see a major civil rights lawsuit in my crystal ball over this one.
Anyone want to be a plaintiff? 

Also... it should be completely obvious to everyone that the criminals with guns in DC will have no problem replacing theirs using their existing sources.  As with all gun control the only people inconvenienced will be honest citizens. 

Oh, and one more point.

The police find it necessary, in a city where handguns have been banned for 30 years and all legally-owned firearms registered for much much longer, to initiate door to door searches for firearms.

That should give you an idea how effective their draconian gun control policies have been.

I got the link from Ravnwood originally.

Thu Mar 13 10:29:12 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Rumblings and rumors from the White House

Robert Novak argues that the President and senior White House staff were unaware of the position taken by the DOJ amicus brief in Heller until the brief was filed with the court.  At ScotusBlog there is some well-justified skepticism of that position.  I got the links from the Volokh Conspiracy.

Why well-justified?  Simple enough: the Bush administration has never been particularly friendly to gun rights.  While there were certainly a few positive points in Bush's presidency, they weren't really areas for which Bush was directly responsible.  The Department of Justice under Ashcroft issued an opinion suggesting the 2nd Amendment is an individual right "subject to reasonable regulation", a weasel-like phrase to use to describe a fundamental right... and in any case, the prime mover in that situation appears to have been Ashcroft.  The Assault Weapons Ban expired during his first term, but Bush had pledged to sign it if it reached him, so he can hardly take credit for the result.  The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed and was signed under Bush, and maybe his efforts on behalf of that bill behind the scenes helped keep it free of entangling gun control provisions.  He appointed two Supreme Court justices considered likely to be friendly to gun rights.

But those few positive acts have negative counterparts.  Bush did in fact promise to sign the Assault Weapons Ban if it reached his desk, even if he signaled a Republican Congress to please avoid putting it there.  He allowed the Armed Pilots program to be almost completely emasculated in its implementation by his Administration.  He has failed to take action to allow self-defense firearms within National Parks, something that he could probably fix with a stern talking-to to the right administrator.  And, of course, there is his administration's disastrous brief in the Heller case.

It's been a litany of missed opportunities for gun rights, even if the overall result is positive.   I have absolutely no problem believing that Bush approved a brief while thinking, "Oh dear we have to protect the machine-gun ban" and sparing not a single thought for gun rights, and is now desperate to disavow a position that has done serious damage to what little trust gun rights advocates like myself gave to the Bush administration.

The Republican party is treating limited-government and gun rights voters for granted, and I'm getting tired of it.

In other news, I find it amusing that Novak's article categorizes gun rights as a subcategory of social conservatism.  I'm NOT a social conservative; I'm a libertarian.

Thu Mar 13 09:59:52 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Buying a gun to meet guys?

I wonder if the author of this surprisingly positive article reads Ann Althouse?

Thu Mar 13 09:23:18 CDT 2008 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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