Archive for the ‘Gun Rights’ Category

McCain, Barr and Guns

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Not long ago I randomly met a Libertarian Party staffer in a local drinking establishment who told me that the Barr campaign has high hopes for landing the endorsement of the NRA.

While I think he probably should get it (Barr gets an A+ rating from the group and is an NRA board member, while McCain receives a  C rating), I have doubts that the organization would take the plunge and endorse a third party candidate.  Instead I expect a none of the above endorsement, or a squishy McCain isn’t perfect but he’s better than Obama so we unenthusiastically endorse him.

Gun Owners of America is more likely endorse Barr, but Barr may have competition from Chuck Baldwin the Constitution Party candidate.  Interestingly, an article about McCain (who was most recently rated a F- by GOA) titled “John McCain is a Liberal Gun Grabber” is repreinted on GOA’s website.  The article is written by Chuck Baldwin.

Also of note is what impact the Palin pick will have on the gun rights vote.  Some are speculating that Palin was picked (at least in part) to stop or forestall an NRA endorsement of Barr over McCain. I for one hope that the NRA is not appeased so easily… after all, the VP has little impact on policy, and a political neophyte like Palin (personally I consider that an asset, not a put down) would likely have even less say than usual given McCain’s stubborn reputation.

Government Mandates I Can (Almost) Get Behind

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

I’m not one for government-mandates, but I’ve always observed that if “liberal” jurists read the 2nd Amendment like they some did other parts of the Constitution, they’d probably want to mandate gun ownership.

Which is just what a small town of Kennesaw, GA did.  Despite the dire predictions by anti-gun rights activists, the city is now much safer:

n March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw – responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. – unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of “Wild West” showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.

The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.

Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.

By comparison, the population of Morton Grove, the first city in Illinois to adopt a gun ban for anyone other than police officers, has actually dropped slightly and stands at 22,202, according to 2005 statistics. More significantly, perhaps, the city’s crime rate increased by 15.7 percent immediately after the gun ban, even though the overall crime rate in Cook County rose only 3 percent. Today, by comparison, the township’s crime rate stands at 2,268 per 100,000.

This was not what some predicted.

In a column titled “Gun Town USA,” Art Buchwald suggested Kennesaw would soon become a place where routine disagreements between neighbors would be settled in shootouts. The Washington Post mocked Kennesaw as “the brave little city … soon to be pistol-packing capital of the world.” Phil Donahue invited the mayor on his show.

Reuters, the European news service, today revisited the Kennesaw controversy following the Virginia Tech Massacre.

Police Lt. Craig Graydon said: “When the Kennesaw law was passed in 1982 there was a substantial drop in crime … and we have maintained a really low crime rate since then. We are sure it is one of the lowest (crime) towns in the metro area.” Kennesaw is just north of Atlanta.

As for the mandate, it strikes me as unnecessary.  Fortunately it also, according the Wikepedia article, is completely unenforced and full of exemptions that would prevent anyone who objects from owning a firearm:

Kennesaw’s law was amended in 1983 to exempt those who conscientiously object to owning a firearm, convicted felons, those who cannot afford a firearm, and those with a mental or physical disability that would prevent them from owning a firearm. It mentions no penalty for its violation. According to the Kennesaw Historical Society, no one has ever been charged under the ordinance.


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Ok, so you can have a handgun in D.C. now, but only in your home and only if it’s unloaded and locked away. At least, that’s the law the DC government is attempting to pass in the wake of Heller. (Unfortunately, the Supreme Court left plenty of leeway by saying that “reasonable” restrictions on gun rights are acceptable. Leave it to the government to define “reasonable,” right? Hardly.)

A Good Day At the US Supreme Court

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Today the Supreme Court ruled on three cases. I can’t speak to the third, but two - one on free speech and one on the Second Amendment - are victories for individual rights.

In Davis v. FEC the court invalidated the so-called “Millionaires Amendment” of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance speech regulation.

While BCRA does not impose a cap on a candidate’s expenditure of personal funds, it imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises that First Amendment right, requiring him to choose between the right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations. The resulting drag on First Amendment rights is not constitutional simply because it attaches as a consequence of a statutorily imposed choice. Id., at 54–57, and n. 65, distinguished. The burden is not justified by any governmental interest in eliminating corruption or the perception of corruption, see id., at 53. Nor can an interest in leveling electoral opportunities for candidates of different personal wealth justify §319(a)’s asymmetrical limits, see id., at 56–57. The Court has never recognized this interest as a legitimate objective and doing so would have ominous implications for the voters’ authority to evaluate the strengths of candidate competing for office. Finally, the Court rejects the Government’s argument that §319(a) is justified because it ameliorates the deleterious effects resulting from the tight limits federal election law places on individual campaign contributions and coordinated party expenditures.

Importantly, the Court outright rejected the speech rationing theory that fundamentally underlies the entire McCain-Feingold scheme. McCain’s speech regulations have always had to claim they were designed to combat corruption, when corruption was more a smokescreen for McCain self-professed goal of getting money out of politics (i.e. speech rationing). Now if only the Court will reexamine the dubious anti-corruption justification.

(For more on campaign finance regulations and speech rationing I recommend this article by Constitutional lawyer Erik Jaffe.)

In the second and more high profile case the Court ruled in DC v. Heller that indeed the Second Amendment does include an individual right to bear arms. Importantly, the five member majority was clear and unambiguous:

1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.