Wednesday, June 30, 2010

McDonald vs Chicago

Here's the pdf from the Court. Here is a post on Scotusblog from Alan Gura, who was McDonald's attorney in the case.

The Left got a well-deserved ass-kicking in the McDonald case, and now they are in an introspective rage. They aren't going away any time soon.

The oldest gun control laws in the US actually establishes the gun control movement as an old southern tradition, and Democratic Party one, an attempt by the KKK and its followers to disarm blacks. That tradition has continues up to today. Go to any city that has the most restrictive gun laws, and on any given day count the number of black faces. It doesn't matter whether its LA, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, or of course Chicago, blacks make up a significant percentage of the population, in many if not most cases the majority. The plaintiff in this case, McDOnald, was one such victimized black, a community alternative policing activist hated by the drug gangs he opposed. His house was invaded three times in the past. Yet, he had no means of self-defense so far as guns were concerned.

It's in black and other minority and poor neighborhoods in cities and smaller communities across the nation where you will find the greatest numbers of violent crimes and deaths relating to guns. Many times, it will be gang on gang violence, but far too often it is innocent citizens, the vast majority of whom are unarmed.

The protests from the hard anti-gun left fall more and more on deaf ears, and rightly so, despite the relatively rare though certainly tragic occurrences of domestic violence with guns, the accidental shootings, and of course the cases where a home invasion results in the theft of guns by the criminal culprit-which amounts to nothing more nor less than the criminal adding to his already considerable stockpile of weapons in some cases. But at least in those cases when homeowners have guns, the home invasion is far more likely to occur at those times when the homeowner in question is away.

The Second Amendment originally was intended to allow the states to maintain a militia of armed citizens. These armed citizens were never intended to be an actual standing army, however. "Well-regulated militia" meant in eighteenth century terms, a well-armed citizenry, and those citizens kept their arms where they could have them at the ready-in their own homes. However, many states and local communities did "regulate" guns, and established their own laws. The aforementioned southern states passed such laws so as to enable black citizens, along with white Republicans, to become fair prey. The Cruikshank decision which was mentioned in the case was regarding an incident in which the person in question, Cruikshank, had led and participated in the massacre of numerous unarmed blacks, many of whom were marched through the streets to their execution.

Gun control laws found extension in the West in some locales, and other areas of the country notable for gun violence, but for the most part such laws were purposely discriminatory.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, however, made it clear that not only could the Federal Government not interfere with the constitutional rights of citizens, or the states, it established that the states themselves could not interfere with the rights of its own citizens. That was the basis of the McDonald ruling, and it has been far too long coming. Previously, this aspect has been ignored, and when it has been brought up, it has been denied. Such determinations have been tolerated due to the precedent set in regulations limiting other rights under the Bill of Rights. Free speech, after all, is not an unlimited right. There are laws against slander and libel, there are community standards that deal with pornography, etc. Freedom of Religion is not unlimited. You can become a Mormon or a Muslim, but you can only marry one woman, or man. A man cannot marry multiple wives, nor a wife multiple husbands. Nor can a man marry young prepubescent girls, nor kill their wife or daughter when they displease him. You can extend it further to Freedom of Association. You can join the Hibernian Society, but if you associate with the Irish Mob or the IRA, you will likely at some point find yourself subject to investigation and possibly prosecution, and rightly so. These are just a few of the things where society draws a line in the sand and declares "Thou Shalt Not Cross".

Because of this inherent reality, gun restrictions have been tolerated, but with this ruling, it has been clearly established that the right of states and local communities to restrict and regulate the right to bear arms is not absolute nor is it unlimited, as is the case in the other aforementioned rights. Were this not so, it might be possible for some states and local communities to totally outlaw free speech or association, or freedom of religion, etc., on completely spurious grounds based on a supposed common good.

Similarly, the right to keep and bear arms is warranted the same degree of interpretation and respect. There will doubtless be a number of future cases which will challenge the laws in certain jurisdictions. Some will meet with different results than in others, and in some cases, some should probably fail. If I own a bar or nightclub, and I don't want armed drunks patronizing the place, I would have serious problems with a law declaring I had to allow and and all of them to carry firearms in my place of business every bit as much as I would if I had to allow anyone that come into my my own home to bring their firearm.

In my opinion, universities similarly have the right to restrict gun ownership on their campuses only to those students who have demonstrated the proper training and self-discipline. I don't think any reasonable person wants to see a house full of drunken frat boys carrying Glocks and Uzis all over campus, or students who have demonstrated disciplinary problems of one stripe or another walking around with guns on their hips and chips on their shoulders.

By the same token, I think some reasonable recognition of the right to bear arms, albeit limited, is certainly warranted, and may even have contributed to the prevention of certain tragedies, such as the Virginia Tech shootings, or at the very least such laws might have enabled an armed and trained, responsible student or faculty member to have ended the problem more quickly and lessened the ultimate body count.

But when exactly does a reasonable regulation and requirement become overreaching and repressive? If a person has a number of unpaid parking tickets or has spent a number of nights in the drunk tank, or even if he has a record of assault, domestic or otherwise, does it render him or her incompetent or a danger to society in all cases? How far back does the record have to go? Does a drug arrest twenty years in the past disqualify a person from gun ownership? Will there be shoot to wound laws, or a requirement to fire a warning shot at home invaders before actually taking aim in some jurisdictions? Is it really necessary in some cases to wait until a burglar actually threatens one physically, or wait until he actually breaks down your door and steps inside, even though you see clearly he's about to do just that, carrying a gun or a crowbar as he kneels by your door or window, or is skulking behind the bushes? If you see him outside, should you be required to first call the police before you take matters into your own hands? What if he's already cut your land line and your cellphone isn't working?

What about training? Should a private citizen be required by local law to become proficient in firearms before owning one, as is currently being discussed in Chicago? If so, what should be the level of proficiency? Could this be a way to continue the restrictions, by setting the bar so high most people might not ever pass it without taking an inordinate amount of time at great expense? These are questions that are probably going to be raised in some cases multiple times in different jurisdictions.

No, this isn't the end of the war, this is just one very fortunately won battle, and at a vote of 5-4, barely won at that.

But its a good and historic first step.