Category Archives: Keep and Bear Arms

Tennesseans Upset About Gun Registrations Being Made Public

Here’s yet another great reason not to require firearms owners to register their weapons:

A Memphis newspaper has posted a searchable database of Tennesseans with permits to carry concealed handguns, upsetting firearm owners and igniting a debate on whether such information should be publicly available.

Gun owners say the database is an invasion of privacy and makes permit holders easy targets for burglaries. They have flooded the newspaper with complaints — some 600 e-mail messages a day — and threatened staff members and posted personal information about newspaper employees.

The newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, added the database to its Web site in December. The database did not draw attention, though, until an early February article about an argument over a parking spot that ended with a motorist shot dead.

The editor, Chris Peck, said the paper added the database because newspapers should be a thorough source for community information. Mr. Peck pointed to the recent shooting as proof of why the database is valuable to readers.

Perhaps it’s time for a database which shows how many hammers, screwdrivers, liquor bottles and Viagra prescriptions are kept at Mr. Peck’s house.

Democratic Leaders Oppose Return Of “Assault Weapons” Ban

The announcement by Eric Holder that I wrote about yesterday regarding the return of the “assault weapons” ban received this very interesting reception from Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will join Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in opposing any effort to revive the 1994 assault weapons ban, putting them on the opposite side of the Obama administration.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the Nevada Democrat will preserve his traditional pro-gun rights voting record.

“Senator Reid would oppose an effort (to) reinstate the ban if the Senate were to vote on it in the future,” Manley told The Hill in an e-mail late Thursday night.

It was not immediately clear whether Reid would block the bill from the Senate, but his opposition casts serious doubt on its chances. Also, Manley noted that Reid voted against the ban in 1994 and again when it expired in 2004.

Reid’s stance joins him with Pelosi, who told reporters Thursday that the administration had not checked with her before Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters the administration would attempt to reinstate the ban. Pelosi gave a flat “no” when asked if she had spoken to Holder or any other administration officials about the issue.

“On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “I think it’s clear the Bush administration didn’t do that.”

Outside of the dig at the recent Republican president, that phrase is the stock line of those who don’t want to pass new gun control laws, such as the National Rifle Association.

So does this mean that Democrats in Congress are finding some new respect for Second Amendment rights ?

Well, not really:

A number of House Democrats lost their seats after being targeted by the National Rifle Association for voting for the 1994 ban.

Pelosi and Reid do not want this because they don’t want it to become an issue in 2010 they way it was in 1994.

Pure politics, but I’ll take what I can get on this.

H/T: QandO

Obama Administration To Seek Return Of “Assault” Weapons Ban

Back during the height of the General Election campaign, then-candidate Obama had this to say on the subject of Second Amendment rights:

A woman in the crowd told Obama she had “heard a rumor” that he might be planning some sort of gun ban upon being elected president. Obama trotted out his standard policy stance, that he had a deep respect for the “traditions of gun ownership” but favored measures in big cities to keep guns out of the hands of “gang bangers and drug dealers’’ in big cities “who already have them and are shooting people.”

“If you’ve got a gun in your house, I’m not taking it,’’ Obama said. But the Illinois senator could still see skeptics in the crowd, particularly on the faces of several men at the back of the room.

So he tried again. “Even if I want to take them away, I don’t have the votes in Congress,’’ he said. “This can’t be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I’m not going to take away your guns.’’

Well, what a difference an Inauguration makes:

The Obama administration will seek to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 during the Bush administration, Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

“As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Holder told reporters.

Change we can believe in !

The Brady Bill Was Only Step 1

Remember the “good old days” of the Brady Bill and the instant background check? It turns out that the gun grabbers in the 111th Congress no longer believe these gun control measures go far enough. Introducing perhaps the gravest threat to date against the Second Amendment: H.R. 45 Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009.

The primary goals of H.R. 45 are to license every firearm for every firearm a gun owner owns and regulate the buying and selling of firearms through licensed dealers. To apply for a firearms license, the applicant would have to provide the following:

SEC. 102. APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS.
(a) In General- In order to be issued a firearm license under this title, an individual shall submit to the Attorney General (in accordance with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b)) an application, which shall include–
(1) a current, passport-sized photograph of the applicant that provides a clear, accurate likeness of the applicant;
(2) the name, address, and date and place of birth of the applicant;
(3) any other name that the applicant has ever used or by which the applicant has ever been known;
(4) a clear thumb print of the applicant, which shall be made when, and in the presence of the entity to whom, the application is submitted;
(5) with respect to each category of person prohibited by Federal law, or by the law of the State of residence of the applicant, from obtaining a firearm, a statement that the individual is not a person prohibited from obtaining a firearm;
(6) a certification by the applicant that the applicant will keep any firearm owned by the applicant safely stored and out of the possession of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(7) a certificate attesting to the completion at the time of application of a written firearms examination, which shall test the knowledge and ability of the applicant regarding–
(A) the safe storage of firearms, particularly in the vicinity of persons who have not attained 18 years of age;
(B) the safe handling of firearms;
(C) the use of firearms in the home and the risks associated with such use;
(D) the legal responsibilities of firearms owners, including Federal, State, and local laws relating to requirements for the possession and storage of firearms, and relating to reporting requirements with respect to firearms; and
(E) any other subjects, as the Attorney General determines to be appropriate;
(8) an authorization by the applicant to release to the Attorney General or an authorized representative of the Attorney General any mental health records pertaining to the applicant;
(9) the date on which the application was submitted; and
(10) the signature of the applicant.
(b) Regulations Governing Submission- The Attorney General shall promulgate regulations specifying procedures for the submission of applications to the Attorney General under this section, which regulations shall–
(1) provide for submission of the application through a licensed dealer or an office or agency of the Federal Government designated by the Attorney General;
(2) require the applicant to provide a valid identification document (as defined in section 1028(d)(2) of title 18, United States Code) of the applicant, containing a photograph of the applicant, to the licensed dealer or to the office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable, at the time of submission of the application to that dealer, office, or agency; and
(3) require that a completed application be forwarded to the Attorney General not later than 48 hours after the application is submitted to the licensed dealer or office or agency of the Federal Government, as applicable.
(c) Fees-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Attorney General shall charge and collect from each applicant for a license under this title a fee in an amount determined in accordance with paragraph (2).
(2) FEE AMOUNT- The amount of the fee collected under this subsection shall be not less than the amount determined by the Attorney General to be necessary to ensure that the total amount of all fees collected under this subsection during a fiscal year is sufficient to cover the costs of carrying out this title during that fiscal year, except that such amount shall not exceed $25.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of the bill, but from this and the titles of the remaining subsections (i.e. Sec. 302 Failure to Maintain or Permit Inspection of Records, Sec. 304 Failure to Provide Notice of Change of Address, Sec. 405 Inspections, etc.) it’s probably much worse than I think. This is like a bad marriage between the Real I.D. Act and the Brady Bill.

If the Brady Bill was step 1 and H.R. 45 is step 2 what are we then left with for step 3 but the outright repeal of the Second Amendment and complete prohibition for individuals to own firearms?

Montana Brings A Gun (10th Amendment) To A Knife (Interstate Commerce) Fight

This could get interesting:

A personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Montana and that remains within the borders of Montana is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of congress to regulate interstate commerce. It is declared by the legislature that those items have not traveled in interstate commerce. This section applies to a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured in Montana from basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported from another state. Generic and insignificant parts that have other manufacturing or consumer product applications are not firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition, and their importation into Montana and incorporation into a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured in Montana does not subject the firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition to federal regulation. It is declared by the legislature that basic materials, such as unmachined steel and unshaped wood, are not firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition and are not subject to congressional authority to regulate firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition under interstate commerce as if they were actually firearms, firearms accessories, or ammunition. The authority of congress to regulate interstate commerce in basic materials does not include authority to regulate firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition made in Montana from those materials. Firearms accessories that are imported into Montana from another state and that are subject to federal regulation as being in interstate commerce do not subject a firearm to federal regulation under interstate commerce because they are attached to or used in conjunction with a firearm in Montana.

Reading through the introduction to the bill, Montana directly claims that the 9th and 10th Amendments, the Montana state Constitution, and the fact that they are declaring all of this to be intrastate commerce removes them from federal regulation on firearms.

I’m not sure how this will stand up to the precedents of Filburn and Raich. Based on his concurring opinion in Raich, one may suspect that even Scalia (if he’s consistent) would strike down Montana’s statute:

Unlike the power to regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, the power to enact laws enabling effective regulation of interstate commerce can only be exercised in conjunction with congressional regulation of an interstate market, and it extends only to those measures necessary to make the interstate regulation effective. As Lopez itself states, and the Court affirms today, Congress may regulate noneconomic intrastate activities only where the failure to do so “could … undercut” its regulation of interstate commerce. … This is not a power that threatens to obliterate the line between “what is truly national and what is truly local.” Lopez

Scalia just wrote the government’s argument in case they try to implement their will. They simply will claim that this intrastate activity substantially undercuts their ability to regulate firearms in interstate commerce.

Morally, I applaud the state of Montana for standing up for their Constitutional rights. Given modern Constitutional jurisprudence, though, I don’t have high hopes for their success.

Hat Tip: Billy Beck

Che, Mao, and Pop Culture

One thing that disturbs me to no end is the way despotic Communist serial killers like Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Mao Zedong are iconic figures in American pop culture. When I see someone wearing Che’s ugly mug on his/her chest, I want to ask him/her: “Do you really have any idea who this man was or what he did?” I suspect that if I were to ask, I’d get a blank stare.

This short video below from reason.tv features interviews with two individuals who lived under the thumbs of Che and Mao. Neither are what you would call fans of these pop culture icons.

Don’t Forget to Study Before the Final!

I just received my mail-in ballot a week or so ago. The ballot, with multiple choices with arrows to be filled out next to each choice, reminds me of taking standardized tests back in the day. Some tests were easier than others but I knew that if I did not study, one of two things could happen: (1) I could get lucky and answer enough of the questions correctly to pass or (2) I could possibly fail.

In a way, the general election is a final exam. Whether one “passes” the exam or not depends on whether s/he votes according to his or her principles. In order to increase your chances of voting according to your principles, you must study.

I am disgusted with the Republican and Democrat parties. When going over my ballot, my first instinct was to vote Libertarian in every race with a Libertarian candidate. I had studied all of the ballot measures and was satisfied that I could make intelligent choices there, but I hadn’t researched the candidates below the presidential level*. In the U.S. House race, I found three choices: the incumbent Diana DeGette (D), George Lilly (R), and Martin Buchanan (L). I knew that DeGette supported the bailout so she was never an option. Buchanan is a Libertarian and his positions he posted on his website are indeed Libertarian.

So why not just support the Libertarian you ask?

Regardless of how much I despise the Republican and Democrat parties, I make an effort to learn about the individual candidates and their positions before making a choice. Much to my delight and surprise, I found the Republican, George Lilly to be a “Ron Paul Republican.” I knew that there were such individuals running in this election but I never thought I would have had an opportunity to vote for one!

Now, I know that an endorsement from Ron Paul is not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be but take a look at Lilly’s positions posted on his website:

Please join me in RESTORING the Constitution, and together, let’s:

1. RESTORE the economy — free up business from onerous outdated regulations.

2. RESTORE proper use of the military (136 nations have U.S. military presence.)

3. RESTORE integrity to the treaty process to protect America’s interests first.

4. RESTORE individual privacy and say “no” to the Real I.D. Act.

5. RESTORE high quality medical care at affordable prices.

6. RESTORE checks & balances — the executive branch has gotten too powerful.

7. RESTORE integrity in the campaign financing process.

8. RESTORE integrity to the dollar — re-institute the gold standard. Watch this YouTube video!

9. RESTORE integrity to the tax system — rein in the I.R.S.

10. RESTORE and retain rights to unregulated health supplements & the Internet.

The following will be my top priorities in Congress:

1. Create a level playing field for Americans who receive the benefit of Workmen’s Compensation, mandatory health insurance, retirement benefits, taxes, OSHA, EPA etc. and calculate that into the cost of the products manufactured so that any foreign country not providing the same benefits to their employees would have to pay a tariff on their imported products to equal that amount.

2. Support a bill that calls for a single subject on all spending bills.

3. Oppose unconstitutional spending in the form of corporate subsidies.

4. Oppose unconstitutional spending in the area of education so that “No (every) Child Left Behind” is abolished.

5. Hold the Federal Reserve to account for their corruption of the dollar which has driven up the price of everything way beyond what any normal person can even consider affording!

While I have some concern about his #1 priority being a little on the protectionist side, I certainly applaud his willingness to stand up for the Constitution and against big government**. He’s not purely libertarian but in my estimation, he’s at least as libertarian as Ron Paul.

Having learned about George Lilly’s positions, most of which I agree with, I am very glad I had taken the time to make an informed choice. Now my choice was between the Ron Paul Republican and the Libertarian. Who should I choose?

Most things being equal, I decided to support Lilly. As a practical matter, the Republican Lilly would have a much better chance of unseating DeGette than the Libertarian Buchanan. I have not seen any polls regarding the District 1 race, but I suspect that in a district which seems to worship the ground Barack Obama walks on, DeGette will be difficult if not impossible to beat. If most of the libertarian vote goes to Buchanan, we’ll almost certainly re-elect a tax and spend Democrat to another term.

This is why I urge everyone to study each race before casting a vote***. Put emotions aside and “think the vote.” Though the electorate as a whole may fail the exam, we should each make the effort to pass individually.
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Gunblogger conference call with Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

Earlier today, I participated in a conference call with Missouri governor Matt Blunt, on the subject of gun rights, John McCain, and Barack Obama.

You may recall that recently, the Obama campaign worked directly with democratic party elected officials in the state of Missouri; engaging prosecutors and county sheriffs, to intimidate local media outlets, and prevent them from taking advertising criticizing Barack Obama.

Governor Blunt delivered a scathing rebuke of this blatant ethical misconduct (and violation of at least federal election regulations, if not federal law):

Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s
Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

Governor Blunt, who has decided not to seek re-election; has been campaigning in Missouri, and across the country, for gun rights, and for John McCain.

On the call with me were the organizers, Bryan Pick and John Henke from QandO.net, Jonathan Blank of the Cato Institute, Nicky Fellenzer from The Liberty Zone, Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute and DaveKopel.com, David Codrea of The War On Guns, JR of A Keyboard and a .45, Sebastian of Snowflakes in Hell, Cam Edwards of NRA News and the Cam and Company radio show, Bitter of The Bitchgirls, Dustin of Dustins Gun Blog, John Donovan of The Donovan, and Caleb of Call me Ahab.

It has been agreed that we can release the full audio of our conference call with the governor. I’ve put it up here:

Sorry, I cant get the embeddable streaming widget to work. Here’s a link to the full file, and an embedded player that works, at archive.org.

Gunblogger conference call with Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

I have edited nothing from Governor Blunts comments; only the introductions and some chat between my fellow bloggers at the beginning and end of the call.

If time permits, I will post a transcript later.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

In fact, let me say unequivocally, I’m OK with more people dying, so long as we have more freedom; be it with drugs, or guns, or sex, or anything else.

Are there limits? Of course there are; at the very least, my fist is limited by your nose… but doing immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional things (and I include setting arbitrary limits on freedom in that list) in service of “a good cause”, does not make those things right.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Aren’t Libertarians Being a Bit Hypocritical and Hoplophobic?

One custom that gang members enjoy is posing with weapons. I suppose that the pictures serve a purpose of both reassuring members of the gang about their power to hurt people while acting to intimidate not only the innocent people the gang prays upon, but also rival gangs.

Gangbangers From Richland County Strike Threatening Poses With Their Weapons

Gangbangers From Richland County Strike Threatening Poses With Their Weapons

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has produced one such picture, showing an armored vehicle with a.50 cal machine gun mounted on it, while members of the gang’s most violent gunmen pose with semi-automatic rifles and body armor in threatening poses. Given the comparative peace and cooperation that the Richland County Sheriff’s Department has with the gangs that dominate neighboring counties, it is clear that the purpose of this weapon is not to defend itself against rival gangs like the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department.

By process of elimination we can guess that the primary purpose of this weapon is to threaten either innocent people residing in the county, or small gangs that have moved into niches opened by the Richland County Sheriff’s religious war on intoxicants, dog-fighting, prostitution and the like.

Libertarian Reaction

Many libertarians are outraged; they point out that a weapon which is impossible to aim accurately – you start firing and walk the bullets in – whose bullets will go through concrete walls and still have a lethal amount of kinetic energy is absolutely incompatible with modern policing theory. They are, to a point, correct; under the theory of modern policing, police are supposed to use the minimum amount of force required to protect lives and property, and that force is supposed to be narrowly focused only on targets that require it.

OK For Private Citizens, But Not Government Officials?

However, many of these libertarians are also opposed to the government attempts to outlaw private ownership of .50 cal rifles, which pack a similar punch. The legitimate uses for a weapon are:
1) Target practice for sport
2) Hunting non-sentient prey
3) defensive violence against sentient aggressors

The .50 cal rifle, being almost worthless for hunting (blowing a part your prey leaves very little cookable meat), overkill for self defense, and providing just as much sport as a smaller gun when it comes to plinking away at targets, is similarly inappropriate for the regular citizenry.

Why The Double Standard?

If we are to defend the individual’s right to own and play with such a monstrous weapon as a .50 cal rifle, shouldn’t we extend the same courtesy to someone who happens to be a policeman? Why can we trust a guy insane enough to buy a .50 cal rifle at a cost of I don’t know how many tens of thousands of dollars while not trusting a guy who happens to join a police force?

Private Citizens Face Consequences – Police Get Away With Murder

The answer of course is that the private citizen is far less likely to misuse their weapon than a policeman. This is manifest from the double standard that exists when policemen unlawfully shoot someone as compared to when a private citizen unlawfully shoots someone. In fact, one can contrast the double standard that exists when in an armed confrontation with police when a policeman unlawfully shoots someone with what happens when a private citizen shoot a policeman lawfully.

There have been many instances when policemen have stormed a property without a warrant or if they have a warrant without divulging to the property owner that they had a warrant or even that they were police. Furthermore, a significant portion of those raids have been on the property of people who had no reason to expect a police raid of any kind, seeing as they had no involvement with illegal drug trade. In a subset of the latter group of raids, gunfire has erupted between the people on the property who thought they were being attacked by a criminal gang unaffiliated with the police and the police themselves. Regardless of who fires first, regardless of who initiates the fighting or how quickly the residents surrender, the outcome is almost always the same: A police man who shoots someone unlawfully will be exonerated of criminal wrong-doing while the homeowner who shoots a policeman lawfully will generally face capital murder charges.

The most a policeman has to fear is that they may lose their job. They rarely face prison time, and that only in cases where the shooting is so vile, such as gunning down an octogenarian grandmother in her bed and leaving her to bleed to death, that the police face a revolt by the citizenry.  This is true even in situations where they only weapons brandished were in the hands of the police, where the only shots fired where shots out of guns in policemen’s hands, where the only people shot were women and children cowering on the floor.  In effect, the police can be assured they will face no prosecution.

Contrast this with cases where residents have resisted until they discovered they were facing police armed with a warrant, and then cooperated. If they have killed a policeman, as did Cory Maye, they can face a capital murder charge. If they merely fire back without hitting anything, they usually face attempted murder charges and aggravated assault charges. They will do jail time.

Absent any mechanism for holding “law enforcement” equally liable as the private citizenry for the people they kill or injure, stringently limiting the types of weapons police may possess does seem to make sense.

What About That Endangered Creature – The Law Abiding, Decent, Policeman?

However, we should not sacrifice the principle that people should be able to legitimately own the weapons they feel they need to protect themselves and their property merely because we are prejudiced against them. While many policemen are people who want to predate on their neighbors, but decide to select a safer, if less lucrative, form of criminal activity than joining the mafia or MS-13, there are many decent people who chose to join the police because they wish to be a force for good, and want to protect lives and property. Given the territorial monopoly that the gangs of police hold, any person who finds murder abhorrent and decides to dedicate his or her life to bringing murderers to account for their crimes and to deter would-be murderers from committing future murders will have to join some gang of police to practice their avocation. Should we disarm and condemn them because they took the only avenue open to them to accomplish their honorable purpose? I say no!

Gun Control Is Not The Answer – Ending Police Immunity To Prosecution Is

While we can guess that the Richland County SWAT team will injure or kill innocent people should they decide to fire that weapon as part of their duties, we don’t know that they will. All we can do is react to the crimes they commit, not sanction them prejudicially for the crimes we fear they might commit in the future. Applying the same laws to the SWAT team (or any other policeman) that are applied to the Brinks Armored Car guard would go a long way to eradicating abuses, and would do much to ensure that the weapon sat gathering cobwebs in some garage somewhere.

My thoughts about the name for the machine gun may be found here.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Ron Paul’s Speech at the “Rally for the Republic”

Ron Paul spoke in front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 at the “Rally for the Republic” (AKA the “Ron Paul Convention”) across the river from the Republican National Convention.

Below are the first 3 parts of his speech, the full text of the speech can be read here.

Other speakers on the last day of the rally included Tucker Carlson, Lew Rockwell, Gov. Jesse Ventura (who hinted that he might make a presidential run in 2012), and Barry Goldwater Jr.

Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr was also in attendance at Ron Paul’s big show but Barr said he was not disappointed that Paul did not make an official endorsement of his campaign:

Barr, a former GOP congressman, told ABC News he respects Paul’s intent not to make an endorsement in the general election, and is “here today because there are thousands of people who believe we need to shrink the power, the size, the scope of the federal government.

“These are liberty-loving Americans, and those are my kind of people,” Barr exclaimed.

[…]

“We’re all in this together — we believe in the same things,” Barr said.

“Ron has chosen to work within the Republican Party, I’ve chosen to work through the Libertarian Party through the electoral route, but we all want the same thing,” he added.

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

http://www.bobbarr2008.com/

Heller v. District Of Columbia, Round Two

Just over a month after the United States Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, the man who brought that case is suing the District again over it’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling:

The man who successfully challenged the D.C. handgun ban before the U.S. Supreme Court filed a second federal lawsuit yesterday, alleging that the District’s new gun-registration system is burdensome and continues to unlawfully outlaw most semiautomatic pistols.

Dick A. Heller, a 66-year-old security guard who lives on Capitol Hill, and two other plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that the D.C. government violated the letter and the spirit of the landmark Supreme Court decision, issued June 26, that struck down the District’s decades-old handgun ban.

The 5 to 4 ruling concluded that the Second Amendment grants individuals the right to possess guns for self-defense but said governments may impose reasonable restrictions. The lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S District Court says the District’s restrictions go too far.

The suit urges U.S. District Judge Richard M. Urbina to toss most of the District’s new requirements, which include ballistics tests of registered handguns. It also asks him to eliminate restrictions on semiautomatic handguns and to order D.C. police to approve the handgun applications of the three plaintiffs.

To call the District’s “response” to the Supreme Court ruling cynical would be putting it nicely, so it’s nice to see Heller and the others moving quickly to bring this issue before the Courts. Something tells me, though, that Dick Heller may have another date with the Supremes in two or three years.

Quote Of The Day

DC City Council Chairman Vincent Gray, on the District’s new gun legislation:

We’re trying to figure out how close we can get to where we were before.

Judging from the “emergency” law, which continues to ban semiautomatic weapons and requires trigger locks or the firearm to be disassembled at all times (except when used against an intruder), I’d say they’ve gotten pretty close.

This story is just too good, though, and offers a second gem:

Nickles said residents could neither keep their guns loaded in anticipation of a problem nor search for an intruder on their property. The porch is off-limits, he said, as well as the yard and any outbuildings.

Yes. You see, you have to wait until an intruder is next to your bed with his gun drawn on you before you’re allowed to assemble your weapon, load ammunition, and defend yourself. This is how DC is keeping you safe!

Hat Tip: Billy Beck

A Human Right, A Civil Right: Fundamental, Pre-existing, Strictly Scrutinized, Universal, and Incorporated

This morning, I’m noting a lot of ill informed …or perhaps just informed by misunderstanding of the text… opinions and statements regarding the historic Heller ruling on the scope and applicability of the 2nd amendment.

This of course is unsurprising when many people of varying levels of knowledge about law, history, and firearms have just a short time to digest a 90 page majority opinion and another 70 pages of dissents and cites.

In the table below, I’ve selected out the critical passages, and highlighted some of those I consider most instructive or important (bold for important, red for critical).

Briefly, I need to specifically address some points:

1. Incorporation: Scalia makes it clear in his majority opinion that the second amendment is a fundamental right, that must be treated the same as other fundamental rights such as the first amendment. He specifically notes it in respect to the 14th amendment NUMEROUS times. This decision will be applied universally within the domain of the court, and should be considered controlling upon the states (this is clarified in the later references by the way).

2. Universality: This decision applies to all within the jurisdiction of the court. Excepting prohibited persons (and there is a clear definition under federal law of who those persons are by the way), all individuals under the jurisdiction of U.S. law, have the right to keep and bear arms.

3. Scrutiny:
Again, this issue is clear. Though in the opinion itself Scalia does not explicitly state that second amendment issues should be reviewed with strict scrutiny, this is made clear in the text by equating the 2nd amendment with the first, 4th, 14th etc… Further, Scalia explicitly dismisses Stevens call for a “balance of interests” standard of medium scrutiny. This is in effect strict scrutiny, with certain well defined exceptions (such as for felons, the insane, and weapons of mass destruction).

4. Class III (machine guns and other): This one is mixed. Although the majority expresses that some restrictions are permissible, it also explicitly denies outright bans. It is clear that weapons that are in the common usage and available to citizens, are protected. That includes machine guns (machine guns are not illegal for the general public to own, they are just very expensive and tightly restricted). Although Scalia points out that Miller said it was OK to ban short barreled shotguns, he also noted that the decision is flawed, because it only took judicial notice of what was presented to the court, and the original apellant (Miller, though technically he was the respondent for the appeal to the supremes) never presented a case (he died before the date set for arguments, and his attorney didn’t bother to show up).

Based on my reading, I would say that the current law prohibiting the new manufacture of machine guns for civilian sale after May of 1986 (actually that’s not what it says, but that is how the ATF chose to interpret it) is out; after some long and difficult litigation. However, the door is open for other laws restricting such weapons, fi properly written to pass constitutional scrutiny.

This of course applies to other weapon types specifically targeted for bans; for example the requirement that all weapons imported into the United States have a “sporting purpose”, and that certain shotguns are considered “destructive devices” simply by arbitrary features; are also disallowed (again with the caveat that new laws could be written to pass a constitutional standard).

5. Scope: I think it is clear, though it will require significant litigation to hash out details; that no outright ban on any type of weapon (including machine guns as currently construed), excepting weapons of mass destruction, can stand muster. This means that all state “Assault weapons bans” will be struck down… eventually; along with magazine capacity bans, hollowpoint bullet bans etc… (though likely the ban on “armor piercing” handgun ammunition will continue).

I also think it is clear that there is significant room for licensing programs, and standards (including standards for weapons features and functionality)to be set, so long as the requirements for licensing are not discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious, or onerous. Of course, again, that is going to require years of litigation to define better.

I do think that clearly this means the end of Chicago gun laws, and most likely the radical reformation of laws in Massachusetts, New York, California, Hawaii, and New Jersey.

I should note that this does not mean universal “shall issue” concealed carry, but it almost certainly DOES mean that all states which allow concealed carry must allow it on a “shall issue” basis; using those standards as a guideline. Unless someone is a prohibited person, as spelled out under law since 1968, you MUST license them (presuming licensing exists).

Additionally, I believe this actually DOES set a requirement for lawful OPEN carry throughout the country; in that self defense is a recognized lawful, and traditional purpose of the bearing of arms.

And of course, this ruling does specifically allow for the restriction of carry of firearms in some ways, and some locations. As Scalia repeatedly says, no constitutionally protected rights are absolute (under the law).

Finally, any legislation that does not EXPLICITLY violate the above prohibitions, but would have the effect of doing so, is certainly disallowed. This means that standards for licensing, firearms design, dealer sale regulations etc… cannot be set so as to constitute an effective ban, or an onerous burden.

Now we just need to spend the next 15 years suing to define what constitutes an onerous burden.

Summary of Impact:
So you can’t ban guns, or any particular types of guns; you can’t keep anyone not a prohibited person from buying, owning, keeping, bearing, and using guns for all lawful purposes (including self defense); you can license and set standards for guns to be sold, and for persons to purchase, own, keep, and bear them; but those standards cannot be discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious, or onerous.

Oh and of course, that doesn’t get into the halo effect this has on other cases dealing with fundamental rights issues (remember how many times they state that this is simply protecting a pre-existing right).

Excerpts from the text of the majority decision:

Held:

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…

… 2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited.
It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any
manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed
weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment
or state analogues.

The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those
“in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition
of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
Pp. 54–56.

3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to
self-defense) violate the Second Amendment.

The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense.

Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster.

Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and
is hence unconstitutional.

Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement.

Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home.

Affirmed..


* * *
We turn first to the meaning of the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment provides: 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.”

In interpreting this text, we are guided by the
principle that “The Constitution was written to be understood
by the voters; its words and phrases were used in
their normal and ordinary as distinguished from technical
meaning.”

Normal meaning may of course include an idiomatic
meaning, but it excludes secret or technical meanings that
would not have been known to ordinary citizens in the
founding generation.

* * *

“Right of the People.” The first salient feature of
the operative clause is that it codifies a “right of the people.”

The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights
use the phrase “right of the people” two other times, in the
First Amendment’s Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in
the Fourth Amendment’s Search-and-Seizure Clause. The
Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology (“The
enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall
not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by
the people”). All three of these instances unambiguously
refer to individual rights, not “collective” rights, or rights
that may be exercised only through participation in some
corporate body…

…This contrasts markedly with the phrase “the militia” in
the prefatory clause. As we will describe below, the “militia”
in colonial America consisted of a subset of “the people”—
those who were male, able bodied, and within a
certain age range.

Reading the Second Amendment as
protecting only the right to “keep and bear Arms” in an
organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative
clause’s description of the holder of that right as “the
people.”

We start therefore with a strong presumption that the
Second Amendment right is exercised individually and
belongs to all Americans.

* * *

… in the course of analyzing the meaning of
“carries a firearm” in a federal criminal statute, JUSTICE
GINSBURG wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is,
as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]:
‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing
or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and
ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict
with another person.’ ”

We think that JUSTICE GINSBURG accurately captured the
natural meaning of “bear arms.” Although the phrase
implies that the carrying of the weapon is for the purpose
of “offensive or defensive action,” it in no way connotes
participation in a structured military organization.

* * *

Putting all of these textual elements together,
we find that they guarantee the individual right to
possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation
.

This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background
of the Second Amendment.

We look to this because it has always been widely understood
that the Second Amendment, like the First and
Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right.

The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes
the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it
“shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v.
Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “This is not a right
granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner
dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The
Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed”

* * *

There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text
and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an
individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the
right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s
right of free speech was not, see, e.g., United States v.
Williams, 553 U. S. ___ (2008). Thus, we do not read the
Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry
arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read
the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to
speak for any purpose.

* * *

We reach the question, then: Does the preface fit with
an operative clause that creates an individual right to
keep and bear arms? It fits perfectly, once one knows the
history that the founding generation knew and that we
have described above.

That history showed that the way
tyrants had eliminated a militia consisting of all the ablebodied
men was not by banning the militia but simply by
taking away the people’s arms, enabling a select militia or
standing army to suppress political opponents. This is
what had occurred in England that prompted codification
of the right to have arms in the English Bill of Rights.

The debate with respect to the right to keep and bear
arms, as with other guarantees in the Bill of Rights, was
not over whether it was desirable (all agreed that it was)
but over whether it needed to be codified in the Constitution.

* * *

We may as well consider at this point (for we will have
to consider eventually) what types of weapons Miller
permits.

Read in isolation, Miller’s phrase “part of ordinary
military equipment” could mean that only those
weapons useful in warfare are protected. That would be a
startling reading of the opinion, since it would mean that
the National Firearms Act’s restrictions on machineguns
(not challenged in Miller) might be unconstitutional,
machineguns being useful in warfare in 1939.

We think that Miller’s “ordinary military equipment” language must
be read in tandem with what comes after: “[O]rdinarily
when called for [militia] service [able-bodied] men were
expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves
and of the kind in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at
179. The traditional militia was formed from a pool of
men bringing arms “in common use at the time” for lawful
purposes like self-defense. “In the colonial and revolutionary
war era, [small-arms] weapons used by militiamen
and weapons used in defense of person and home were one
and the same.”

As for the “hundreds of judges,” who have relied on the
view of the Second Amendment JUSTICE STEVENS claims we endorsed in
Miller: If so, they overread Miller. And their erroneous reliance upon
an uncontested and virtually unreasoned case cannot nullify the
reliance of millions of Americans (as our historical analysis has shown) upon the true meaning of the right to keep and bear arms.

In any event, it should not be thought that the cases decided by these judges
would necessarily have come out differently under a proper interpretation
of the right.

The amendment’s operative clause furthers the purpose announced
in its preface. We therefore read Miller to say
only that the Second Amendment does not protect those
weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens
for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns
.

* * *

It should be unsurprising that such a significant
matter has been for so long judicially unresolved.
For most of our history, the Bill of Rights was not thought
applicable to the States, and the Federal Government did
not significantly regulate the possession of firearms by
law-abiding citizens.

Other provisions of the Bill of Rights
have similarly remained unilluminated for lengthy periods.
This Court first held a law to violate the First
Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech in 1931,
almost 150 years after the Amendment was ratified, see
Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson, 283 U. S. 697 (1931), and
it was not until after World War II that we held a law

invalid under the Establishment Clause, see Illinois ex rel.
McCollum v. Board of Ed. of School Dist. No. 71, Champaign
Cty., 333 U. S. 203 (1948).

Even a question as basic
as the scope of proscribable libel was not addressed by this
Court until 1964, nearly two centuries after the founding.
See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254 (1964).

It is demonstrably not true that, as JUSTICE STEVENS
claims, post, at 41–42, “for most of our history, the invalidity
of Second-Amendment-based objections to firearms
regulations has been well settled and uncontroversial.”
For most of our history the question did not present itself.

* * *

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second
Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through
the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely
explained that the right was not a right to keep and
carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever
and for whatever purpose…

…Although we do not undertake an
exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the
Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be
taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the
possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or
laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places
such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing
conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale ofarms.26
We also recognize another important limitation on the
right to keep and carry arms.

Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those
“in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think
that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition
of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual
weapons.”

It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful
in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be
banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely
detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said,
the conception of the militia at the time of the Second
Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens
capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of
lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia
duty.

It may well be true today that a militia, to be as
effective as militias in the 18th century, would require
sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at
large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small
arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and
tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited
the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the
protected right cannot change our interpretation of the amendment

* * *

We turn finally to the law at issue here.

As we have
said, the law totally bans handgun possession in the home.
It also requires that any lawful firearm in the home be
disassembled or bound by a trigger lock at all times, rendering
it inoperable. As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate,
the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the
Second Amendment right.
The handgun ban amounts to a
prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly
chosen by American society for that lawful purpose.

The prohibition extends, moreover, to the home, where the
need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.

Under any of the standards of scrutiny that we have applied
to enumerated constitutional rights,27 banning from the home “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” 478 F. 3d, at 400, would fail constitutional muster….

… See also State v. Reid, 1 Ala. 612, 616–617 (1840) (“A
statute which, under the pretence of regulating, amounts
to a destruction of the right, or which requires arms to be
so borne as to render them wholly useless for the purpose
of defence, would be clearly unconstitutional”).

It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible
to ban the possession of handguns so long as the
possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It
is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American
people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential
self-defense weapon.

There are many reasons that a
citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier
to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency;
it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by
an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upperbody
strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed
at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the
police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.

* * *

After an exhaustive discussion of the arguments for and against
gun control, JUSTICE BREYER arrives at his interest balanced
answer: because handgun violence is a problem,
because the law is limited to an urban area, and because
there were somewhat similar restrictions in the founding
period (a false proposition that we have already discussed),
the interest-balancing inquiry results in the
constitutionality of the handgun ban. QED

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right
whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding
“interest-balancing” approach. The very enumeration of
the right takes out of the hands of government—even the
Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a
case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting
upon.

A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges’ assessments
of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all.

Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they
were understood to have when the people adopted them,
whether or not future legislatures or (yes)even future
judges think that scope too broad.

We would not apply an “interest-balancing” approach to the prohibition
of a peaceful neo-Nazi march through Skokie. See
National Socialist Party of America v. Skokie, 432 U. S. 43
(1977) (per curiam).

The First Amendment contains the freedom-of-speech guarantee
that the people ratified,which included exceptions for
obscenity, libel, and disclosure of state secrets,
but not for the expression of extremely unpopular and wrong-headed views.

The Second Amendment is no different.

Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing
by the people—which JUSTICE BREYER would now conduct for them anew.
And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely
elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding,
responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and
home.

* * *

In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun
possession in the home violates the Second Amendment,
as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm
in the home operable for the purpose of immediate
self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified
from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District
must permit him to register his handgun and must
issue him a license to carry it in the home.

* * *

We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this
country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the
many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun
ownership is a solution.

The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety
of tools for combating that problem, including some measures
regulating handguns,see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26.
But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily
takes certain policy choices off the table.
These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held
and used for self-defense in the home.

Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment
is outmoded in a society where our standing army is
the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces
provide personal security, and where gun violence is a
serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is
not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to
pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.

We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

–It is so ordered.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Presidential Candidates Respond to D.C. vs. Heller Ruling

Given that the D.C. vs. Heller ruling is a historically important ruling for the Second Amendment and given that the next president could appoint between two and three Justices to the Supreme Court over the next four years, I think the responses from Bob Barr, John McCain, and Barack Obama might give us some insight into what kind of judges each would appoint and how each views the Second Amendment. Below are the complete official press releases from each candidate’s web site.

Bob Barr

June 26, 2008 10:16 am EST

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual right of Americans to own guns in District of Columbia v. Heller. The ruling “will go down as one of the Supreme Court’s most important rulings on behalf of liberty,” says Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.

Until today, the Court had never held that the Second Amendment directly applied to individuals. “Today’s decision marks a new era for gun rights in America,” explains Barr, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association. Barr also drafted the Libertarian Party’s amicus curiae brief in Heller. “By protecting an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment ensures that all Americans are able to participate in sporting activities, hunt, and protect themselves and their families,” he explains.

The right to self-defense is particularly important for women and minorities in a city like Washington, D.C. “Where crime rates are high, a gun may be the only means for law-abiding citizens to safeguard themselves and their families,” Barr notes. “Lawful gun ownership deters an untold number of crimes every year.”

But the Court’s ruling, though welcome, is not enough. “It is important to have a president who also supports the right of Americans to own firearms,” says Barr. “Sen. Barack Obama says that he believes in such a constitutional right, but he supports the District of Columbia’s ban, which gives criminals an advantage over law-abiding citizens,” notes Barr.

Sen. McCain has not advocated an absolute prohibition, “but he cosponsored legislation which could require registration of attendees at gun shows and even ban such shows,” Barr warns. And Sen. McCain’s campaign legislation “curtailed the First Amendment right of gun owners to protect their rights by participating in election campaigns.”

As part of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment undergirds American liberty. “The individual’s right to keep and bear arms helps ensure all of our freedoms,” says Barr. “The Supreme Court’s recognition of the constitutional right to gun ownership is a recognition of the right to life, liberty, and property for all Americans.”

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom.

John McCain

For Immediate Release
June 26, 2008
Contact: Press Office
703-650-5550

Statement by John McCain on Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Second Amendment Rights

ARLINGTON, VA– U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement regarding today’s United States Supreme Court ruling on District of Columbia v. Heller:

Today’s decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Barack Obama

I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today’s decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.

Supreme Court Upholds Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms

After nearly two centuries of silence, the Supreme Court today struck down a District of Columbia gun ban and affirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices’ first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court’s 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: “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.”

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”

Yes, that’s right Justice Stevens, they did. It’s called the Second Amendment.

While the devil is, as always, in the details and, as I noted in March, this is far from the end of the Constitutional debate about gun control, this is, all in all, a great day for individual liberty.

Hillary Clinton: Second Amendment Defender?

The Hillary Clinton campaign has sent out mailers criticizing Barack Obama for trying to have it both ways on the Second Amendment. The mailer reads as follows:

These are all valid criticisms of Barack Obama; I have made some of these very criticisms myself (here, and here). But the source of these criticisms (Hillary Clinton) seems very strange to me. Barack Obama could very easily ask the same question: What does Hillary Clinton really believe?

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton sign the Brady Bill into law? Maybe this is another example of her disagreeing with the policies of her husband’s administration, such as with NAFTA (if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you).

Apparently, I’m not the only one who is skeptical of Hillary Clinton’s sudden bid to become the NRA’s next president (she might as well, she doesn’t have any realistic chance of winning the Democrat nomination for president). Ben Smith writes:

The piece [the mailer as shown above] is particularly striking coming from Clinton, who has been seen for most of her career as a firm advocate of gun control, but more recently has emerged — without dramatically shifting her stance on specific issues — as a defender of the Second Amendment who fondly recalled being taught to shoot by her grandfather in Scranton.

Hillary Clinton: Second Amendment Defender? How stupid does she really think we are?

Menino’s Homeopathic Solution to Gun Violence

This week Boston’s Mayor Menino testified before the Congressional Task Force on Illegal Guns. He had this to say:

We share a common disdain for what we have seen happen in our cities, to our residents and to our police officers as a result of illegal guns. So, we signed a statement of principles and agreed to work together to take illegal guns out of our cities.

….

Fighting crime is a top priority for all mayors – and fighting crime means fighting illegal guns. The stakes could not be higher. Fatal shootings of police officers increased 33 percent last year. I know that every mayor in this country will do whatever it takes to protect the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our cities safe.

So now, the voices of mayors are echoed by elected leaders and law enforcement officials from every part of America – and we’re making progress. Our numbers are growing, our mission could not be more timely and our message couldn’t be more clear: We need to stem the flow of illegal guns in our cities now.
Together, we will continue to work for common sense measures to fight illegal gun trafficking

His testimony was awfully short on the specifics on what problems “illegal guns” pose, other than claiming that they are behind an increase in shootings of police officers. Instead he lovingly details the growing number of government officials who are in favor of making the population increasingly dependent on them for protection.

In fact, the main complaint contained within his testimony seems to be that the work of the police is made more difficult by the prevalence of black marketeers importing guns illegally from areas where they can be legally manufactured and sold to ones where they cannot be legally imported and sold. But, his conclusions, that a Fugitive-Slave-Law style crackdown by the federal Government would somehow make the city of Boston safer is unbelievably wrong headed.

Assumption 1: A police monopoly on guns will make people safer:

This is, of course ridiculous. The police can take minutes or hours to respond to an attack in progress. The police are also under no legal obligation to respond at all. Restricting the supply of firearms makes defense of property increasingly expensive. While the wealthy can afford to hire security guards licensed by the state, or can convince political leaders to assign them special police details, those who are too poor, or lack political connections are left increasingly vulnerable.

Assumption 2: A reduction in the availability of guns will make criminals significantly less dangerous:

This is, again, ridiculous. The bank robbers who unsuccessfully attempted to rob a bank in California using AK-47’s are very rare exceptions to the rule that most crimes can be as easily committed with a knife as with a gun. A criminal carrying out an attack has the initiative; he chooses when and where he attacks and who his victim is. He is quite capable of altering his plans should the tools he has to work with be limited only to knives or base-ball bats. The ban makes the criminal more dangerous; firearms historically have favored defenders over attackers. There is a great deal of truth behind the saying God may have created men equal, but it was Samuel Colt who made ‘em equal.

Assumption 3: A meaningful reduction in the availability of guns is even possible:

Total bans on any good in wide demand, such as alcohol or cocaine or salt will result in smuggling. Nothing save setting up checkpoints on every road into Massachusetts and searching every car carefully will keep guns from flowing into the state. Unlike cocaine or whiskey, a gun gives off no chemical traces of its presence. Tape it to the underside of a car, and you can get it through any checkpoint.

Furthermore, any clever person can build simple yet effective weapons given a rudimentary machine shop. Even if a total ban on imports was possible, the measures required to prevent machine shops from producing firearms in quantities sufficient for a crime wave would be unenforceable.

Mayor Menino cited a figure of ~<500 illegal guns being associated by police with various crimes. 7 smuggling rings, smuggling in 15 guns a month each could easily supply this sort of demand. Hell 20 machine shops could easily make 10 guns a month to produce over 2000 guns a year if need be.

Nor will Mayor Menino ever be able to get rid of gun manufacture all-together. The demand for legal guns for his police force is sufficient to ensure that factories will be churning out a large quantity of fire-arms. Some of these will be diverted into the black market as surely as nuclear missile guidance systems ending up in Taiwan.

“What is not seen”

Mayor Menino does not want to outlaw guns. Rather what he wants to do is outlaw anyone but the police from having them. He views the guns as making violence in the city worse and as a hazard to the police. But by focusing on the firearms he is avoiding the questions he really should be asking:

Why are people resolving disputes by shooting at each other? Why are the police being threatened?

The answer to these questions is not a pleasant one to the politicians of Boston or Massachusetts, so they avoid asking them.

The short answer is that by writing and enforcing draconian economic and moral laws such as onerous labor laws, blue laws and drug laws, the politicians of Massachusetts are making it difficult for people to live their lives legally. The police are not seen as benefactors but as yet another street gang preying on the weak. The lack of legal business opportunities drive people to seek illegal occupations. While some of these illegal occupations are honorable (drug dealing, prostitution), many are dishonorable (burglary, mugging).

When people view the police as an enemy, and the courts as a predatory system, they naturally ignore them for resolving disputes. When business ventures are illegal, the participants are much more likely to settle disputes violently than via a system of arbitration.

What Mayor Menino seeks to do is to isolate the people of Boston from alternatives to dealing with the police. In effect he is behaving like an abusive boy-friend who tries to isolate his girlfriend from other people. Rather than improving the relationship between the citizenry and the government, these attempts will only increase the gulf between them. Any crackdown on the illegal gun trade will inevitably harm innocent people who are either in the wrong place at the wrong time, or who are deprived of a means to defend themselves. It will empower criminals to more brazen acts of thievery and mayhem. It will, in effect worsen most of the engines that drive criminality.

Until he recognizes that the political policies he and his circle support which are the root cause of the violence directed by the people subject to his rule towards each other and towards the police, nothing good will come of his advocacy and his actions.

It is time for the political classes of Massachusetts to stop treating the citizenry as children at best and as beasts to be exploited at worst. If they were serious about reducing the level of violence and the misery in Boston they would stop wasting time on trying to shore up a monopoly on defensive services on behalf of the police, give up their expensive hoplohobia-mongering propaganda campaigns, and would instead focus their attention to eliminating the laws purposed for economic and social engineering.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

A Personal View of the DC VS. Heller Oral Arguments

I watched/listened to the oral arguments in DC vs. Heller this morning, and in my view (solely based on my knowledge of the justices, and the questions and arguments raised today; which is always iffy) we’re looking at a mixed bag.

Well, first the good news. It seems clear that the entirety of the court, even Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg, agree that the second amendment protects a pre-existing individual right right to keep and bear arms.

The rest of the question gets a bit thornier however.

Clearly, the position of the courts is, and has always been; that all rights protected by the constitution are, under some circumstances, subject to regulation or restriction. I can for example say whatever I want in the privacy of my home, or make any criticism of the government that I want, but I cannot publish malicious lies about someone. Preventing libel, is a reasonable restriction on the first amendment, and is a compelling interest of the state.

Given this historical and legal basis, folks who say “What part of ‘Shall not be infringed’ don’t you understand” are just being silly (and often offensive, threatening, etc… etc…).

At this point, it seems clear that all of the justices believe that some regulation is reasonably allowed under the second amendment. The question then devolves down to “what is a reasonable restriction”… therein lies the rub.

DC presented the position that not only was there not an individual right; but that even if there were, that local legislatures had nearly unlimited power to regulate such rights (in fact, their lawyer suggest that they had plenary authority, a position flatly rejected by the court).

Walter Dellenger, who argued the case for DC, was absolutely DESTROYED by all the justices during questioning. Even the liberal justices tore him to pieces. It was clear he was disingenuous in his arguments, and presented no clear or coherent logic, justification, or defense of their positions. Even Ginsburg and Breyer, who nominally support strict regulation of firearms, seemed unswayed and unimpressed.

Paul Clement, the Solicitor general of the U.S., argued a “middle road” standard; presenting very strong arguments for the individual right position, which seemed to impress the justices. He was much weaker on his other contention however that reasonable restriction and a broad standard of review were necessary to protect the public interest in regulating firearms; specifically citing machine guns and “plastic guns designed to get through metal detectors” (a fantasy commonly used by gun banners to scare people into agreeing to bans in principle).

Alan Gura, the chief council for Heller, was very strong on presenting the individual rights position; but was very weak and unfocused in his arguments on the position of what constitutes reasonable regulation, and why. I think he was expecting most of the challenge to come from the “individual rights” argument, and not as much from the ‘reasonable regulation” argument. Though he was certainly prepared with facts and citations (his knowledge of 300+ year old statutes and precedent in both American and English common law was impressive), his arguments lacked coherent structure or flow.

For example, Justice Breyer repeatedly asked questions to the effect of “do the 80,000 deaths per year by handguns in the united states constitute a basis for reasonable regulation, or can they be considered in crafting such regulation?”. Were Gura prepared to argue the basis of reasonable regulation, his response should have been something along the lines of “We contend that crime rates are neither affected by, nor relevant to, the lawful possession and use of arms; and that regulation and restriction of the use of arms by law abiding citizens does not serve the compelling interest of the state in preserving public safety”. Instead he made vague arguments about reasonable standards of review etc… etc…

Dellenger in fact seized on this waffling about standards, to suggest during his rebuttal that if the court specified a strict standard of review (something they seemed inclined towards), that it would result in hundreds of judges around the country determining what was and was not protected by the second amendment, on an individual case by case basis.

So, as I said, a mixed bag.

Kennedy, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas all clearly believe (both from questioning in this case, and in previous opinions and writing) in a strongly protected INDIVIDUAL right to self defense, and to keep and bear arms. It also seems clear that they support a strict standard of review for legislation; and a very limited scope for legitimate regulation.

Surprisingly, it also seems that Souter and Ginsburg agree that there is a right to self defense, AND that there should be a strict standard of review; however it seems they believe in a broader scope for legitimate regulation.

Stevens and Breyer, although they both seem to believe there IS an individual right, also seem to believe that very strong regulations or perhaps bans, are acceptable.

My prediction… that’s a tough one…

I think that we will see an absolute affirmation of the individual right to keep and bear arms, and that this right includes explicitly the right to self defense. In fact I think we may see some language to the effect of “for all lawful purposes, including hunting, sporting uses, and self defense”.

I also think we will see a strict standard for review, and application of that standard to the entire United States, including the states individually (under the 14th amendment and equal protection clause), rather than limiting the scope to D.C. or to the federal government only.

What I really have no prediction on, is what standard of “reasonable regulation” they might promote.

What seems clear, is that the entire court believes that US V. Miller (one of the few cases directly addressing the second amendment), and the standards it presents, are deficient. Scalia, Alito, Breyer, and Ginsburg all made comments to that effect. What that means for the future though… I think its anyones guess really.

I think we have a good shot at striking down all total bans on any gun, or even any class of gun, excepting perhaps machine guns and destructive devices. I believe they may explicitly approve of some licensing provisions provided that the licensing standard is non discriminatory. I believe that they would explicitly approve of regulations that restricted the rights of felons and minors.

I have no real read though on what their take is on the legitimacy of state and local regulations, such as trigger lock requirements, ammo bans, safe storage requirements, etc… I’m sure they will rule that state and local regulation are acceptable, but what standard of “reasonable regulation” will apply… who knows?

As it is though, under any possible construal of “reasonable regulation”; I would expect that the majority of the gun laws in California, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Hawaii; would be in whole or in part, struck down.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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