I’ve said for many years those who hate gun control laws should fear politicians less and courts more. So believing, a lot of armed folks of my acquaintance have accused me of being one slice of bread short of a sandwich.
But this week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling (McDonald v. Chicago 08.1521) is exactly what I’ve been talking about. This time a local handgun ordinance was overturned. Next time, it could be validated. Thanks to five Justices, there will be a next time. Many of ‘em. The door is wide open.
Gun control is a court issue, not a political one. Politicians would sooner vote to end Social Security than touch the third-rail politics of gun control. Still, my email inbox keeps getting those specious anti-Obama messages created out of whole cloth by paranoids for reasons that escape me.
We have two guns at our house. Both unloaded. One I inherited. One I bought years ago when I received what police called “credible threats” during my TV days. Neither has been fired in so long there’s probably a small life form raising a family in one of the cylinders.
I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-people killing with guns.
As a native Westerner, I’ve taken more than a passing interest in gun law issues over the years and it’s my belief those who fear politicians messing with their arsenals don’t understand the politics or the civic processes involved.
In the SCOTUS decision, justices said local governments retain flexibility to preserve “reasonable” gun control measures which includes some now on the books. If you want to know why there are so many lawyers, consider that word “reasonable.” That’s why new, experimental gun laws are more likely to come through the justice system than the political one. And my bet is local jurisdictions by the dozens will be bringing their laws/ordinances to courts for a test. They’ll try to find one that passes muster and then … Katy bar the door!
The Chicago case started with an individual wanting a handgun to protect his family. Streets outside his home were killing fields, ruled by which gang could kill more than the others. “All I want,” he said, “is a fighting chance to at least make somebody think before coming into my house.” His handgun application was denied by the city.
It’s worth noting nothing in this decision prevents local governments from putting strong local laws on the books for handgun or other firearm restrictions. In fact, Justice Alito, writing for the majority, said “It cannot be doubted the right to bear arms was regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as states legislated in an evenhanded manner.” The emphasis there is mine to point out this decision is not nearly the huge victory the paid zealots in the NRA front office would have us believe.
So, we’re back to the word “reasonable” or in Alito’s view “evenhanded.”
As a gun owner … but not a gun fanatic … I’m not concerned the City of Roseburg or the County of Douglas or even the State of Oregon will create gun restrictions I can’t live with. Too many reasoned heads will have something to say about crafting any future laws if such laws are necessary.
What does concern me is the continuing barrage of fear-mongering and outright lies that hit my electronic inbox on this subject. To give some of the creators the benefit of the doubt, they’re honestly clueless about how laws are made, the process of hearings, the realities of one-party dominance in a legislature or congress and the sausage-like birthing of anything that winds up before a mayor, a governor or a president for signature. They hear via the grapevine that some individual has written an obscure bill that may never see daylight outside his /her office and begin sounding alarms. Or creating false alarms.
If these folks would spend as much time and energy learning more about how their democracy works and less time creating imaginary foes, they’d have less to worry about. And we would have a much better educated voter pool. Which would mean more people making wiser decisions on election day. Which would result in a better species of politician. How about that for improving things?
SCOTUS … maybe inadvertently … opened the door for gun law testing. And testing there’ll be. Ready on the firing line!
Now, for those who think I’m anti-gun or some liberal nut case on the subject, read this again. And don’t bother … you should excuse the expression … firing off a nasty email. My spam filter shoots on sight.