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The ATF says you have to choose one or the other.  Can’t have both.

Thanks to Woods for the heads up.

Obama reportedly did very well in Montana.  It may be that some of the deathers are a little less inclined to disrupt an event with the president.

Now if he’ll just hold firm to a strong public option, we might actually get something out of all this.  Nothing ideal, but a step in the right direction.

Jana’s grandmother swore she’d live until there was universal health care.  She’s 103 now.  Can’t wait much longer.

The NRA guy reminded me of something.  I got a call from the NRA the other night.  Not sure how I made it onto their list, but the guy gave me his schpiel and told me that Obama was thinking about reviving the Clinton ban on assault weapons.  He then asked me if I supported the NRA’s opposition to bans on more guns and more ammo.  I said it depends on which type of guns and which type of ammo.  The gentleman politely wished me a good evening and hung up.

One of the more amusing moments of the hearings, not including Sen. Sessions’ neanderthal rants.

I wanted to hear Hatch tell us that they would have to pry his nunchuks out of his cold dead hands.

It should be pointed out that the Semarai might have supported nunchuck control regulations at some point.  Were the ninjas Japan’s minutemen?

Somehow (with my help) a discussion about the power of the Eureka mayor over at Fred’s blog veered into a Second Amendment debate. I previously posted some thoughts on the subject and promised a follow-up. I guess this is as good a time as any.

Let me first say that from a purely philosophical view, I have nothing against gun control. But for the concern for the integrity of the Bill of Rights, I’d have no problem if the government rounded up every gun and tossed them into a bonfire. I don’t see guns as a deterrent to crime nor tyranny. As gun control advocates point out, crime is no lower where gun ownership is plenty, and the rates of crime are lower in states and countries with tight to absolute bans – the exceptions touted by the NRA being the exceptions that underscore the rule. And if a revolution becomes necessary, the revolution will get the guns. It won’t be fought with handguns anyway – probably more likely with bombs set off by wireless technology.

But I do oppose certain forms of gun control in this country because they violate the Second Amendment, and the precedents that compromise that “embarrassing amendment” threaten to compromise the rest of the Bill of Rights as well.

I do agree with the gun control advocates’ structural argument. The Second Amendment contains a qualifying preface clause. And as has been discussed in other contexts in this blog including the most recent post, every word in a law is presumed to have meaning and effect. Therefore:

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.

cannot be interpreted as merely

The right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Obviously, as the Supreme Court has ruled, the weapon in question must have some reasonable connection to the purpose of a militia (courts have thus denied the protection to the ownership of sawed-off shot guns and switch blades). But we don’t know more than that. Unfortunately, the drafters left no clue as to what a “well regulated militia” is, or how the clarification should define or limit the right to bear arms.

The Constitution has often been analogised to a contract. For instance, in 1994 when the Republicans promoted their “contract with America,” some Democrats responded that they already had a contract with America. It has all the elements (except arguably consent of every citizen, though natural law advocates have often spoke of the “social contract” you sign upon birth). It is a basic principle of contract law that ambiguities shall be strictly construed against the drafter of the contract. Therefore, the ambiguity of the Second Amendment should be strictly construed against state power (as should the ambiguities in other Constitutional provisions – it’s really not that well-written a document when you get down to it).

This means that any infringement upon the right to keep and bear arms should involve a compelling state interest of the nature that would justify an infringement of First or Fourth Amendment rights. Certainly the interest of keeping automatic weapons, howitzers, and H-bombs out of private hands qualifies. Handguns probably not. Semi-automatics are more problematic. Outright bans of guns, such as the ordinance in San Francisco, are clearly unconstitutional. In my view anyway.

A note about my previous exercise – the article, written by a very liberal law professor, draws similar conclusions with somewhat different reasoning. It applies a more liberal approach to Constitutional interpretation to draw a “conservative” conclusion. I posted the portion of his article that describes his methodology, which is generally not accepted by straight “strict constructionists” and “original intent” advocates (the two are often combined, but they’re really not the same thing as liberals would argue that the “living document” approach is “original intent.”). The article The Embarrassing Second Amendment was spread all across the Internet by the NRA and their allies, but they certainly don’t agree with the methodology; not the conservative wing of the gun rights movement anyway. There’s a little bit of hypocrisy involved and when the first section is separated and presented to conservatives they often confirm the same.

Them’s my thoughts on the subject, for what they’re worth.

Photo source.

Addendum: Sorry. CSGV stands for Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. And by the way, I don’t see any Constitutional argument against mandated child safety locks.

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