Monday, June 28, 2010

In Chicago Gun Case Four Justices Deny Right of Self Defense

Today the Supreme Court incorporated the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, deciding in favor of plaintiff Otis McDonald who argued that the right of individuals to own a handgun in their homes and to keep that gun in an "at the ready" state, that is, unlocked and loaded, is a basic constitutional right. It's a good day for civil rights, the Constitution and the American people.

In the aftermath, Chicago's total ban on hand guns is certain to be overturned. Also certain is that Chicago Mayor Daley and other politicians will move quickly to defeat the spirit of the McDonald v. Chicago ruling by drafting laws and regulations designed to thwart the efforts of citizens to keep firearms for self defense. As Independent Firearm Owners Association (IFOA) founder Richard Feldman quipped "Will this be known in history as the firearm lawyers full employment decision of 2010?" No doubt it will for some time.

Hopefully Mayor Daley will focus his energies on working with the Liberal Gun Club, IFOA, Democrats for Gun Ownership and other groups to develop credible, easily-accessible gun training and safety programs for the many new gun owners his city is soon going to have. Rather than buck the trend, instigating the energetic creation of gun safety and handling courses would do more to protect honest citizens in Chicago than their mayor's posturing and efforts to deflect blame for his city's appalling murder rate.

But celebrate--the right to bear arms is secure, for now. But what about the right of self defense?

Four justices dissented from the McDonald v. Chicago decision: Justice STEVENS, who wrote his own dissent, and Justices BREYER, GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, who signed on to the McDonald dissent written by Breyer. Justice SCALIA's concurring opinion in McDonald takes Stevens' odd logic to task, but doesn't address the dangerous implications of the Breyer dissent. What Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor did in their dissenting opinion was to challenge not just the validity of the right of individuals to bear arms, but the very right of self-defense itself.

Quoting from Breyer's McDonald dissent:
"[E]xamination of the Framers' motivation tells us they did not think the private armed self-defense right was of paramount importance...Further, there is no popular consensus that the private self-defense right described in Heller is fundamental."
- Justice Breyer (Ginburg & Sotomayor)

Breyer & friends continue with similar attacks on Heller v. D.C. and the right of self-defense throughout the dissent, concluding with the following thoughts:
"In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense. There has been, and is, no consensus that the right is, or was, 'fundamental.' No broader constitutional interest or principle supports legal treatment of that right as fundamental. To the contrary, broader constitutional concerns of an institutional nature argue strongly against that treatment."
Make no mistake, denying the substantive right to self defense is as underhanded an attack on people's security and independence as is possible. Humans are the tool makers; culture and firearms--especially hand guns--are the primary tools used in protecting our our persons. Denying the right of self defense as these justices have, is akin to denying our humanity. But given Breyer's appalling lack of historical knowledge, his poor grasp of anthropology isn't surprising.

Regarding history and the "Founders" and whether They thought the right to self-defense was "fundamental," there are many examples that easily prove Breyer is uninformed. I'll leave you with two, one from Thomas Jefferson (lately written out of history by the right-wing in Texas) and another from the "Founder's Founder," Roger Sherman, the only person to sign the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution:
"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
- Thomas Jefferson
"[C]onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made."
- Roger Sherman
'Nuf said--Breyer, stop making stuff up.

Despite the McDonald victory, given what is at stake, a five-to-four margin seems a very slim. Given the lengths to which different justices of both right- and left-wing persuasion are willing to go to subvert our foundational document to their personal views, Congress needs--right now--to live up to its duty to demand frank responses to direct questions in the Kagan Supreme Court confirmation, and in all other cases where they advise and consent to whom is seated on the Supreme Court.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

BATFE Revises Policies Regarding Firearms Transfers

I know that we often aren't so keen on the NRA, but I must admit that I do retain a membership. The NRA has done very important work in the past, and they continue to send informative "alerts" to current members regarding firearms-related legislation and rules. I recently received one of these "alerts" regarding the BATFE revising policies regarding firearms transfers. I have copy and pasted it below for your perusal. While this new policy seems like it will only affect people such as gun writers, my fear is two fold:

One, it may be open to interpretation and therefore start to effect other private citizens such as you and I.

Two, it is likely to reflect poorly upon the Democratic Party.

Read through the "alert" below (taken from the NRA's website) and let us know how you feel about about it.

BATFE Revises Policies on Firearms "Transfers"

Thursday, June 03, 2010

In a recent ruling regarding the “transfer” of firearms, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATFE) has reversed policies that have been in place for more than 40 years.

In the ruling, BATFE declared that a temporary shipment of a firearm by a federal firearms licensee to a non-employee for business reasons (such as a manufacturer's shipment to a gun writer or engineering consultant for a technical evaluation), will now be considered a “transfer” and require completion of a Form 4473 and background check.

This reverses a ruling issued in 1969, right after the passage of the Gun Control Act, although BATFE provided no explanation of the need for the change. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, BATFE hasn’t been able to name a single case in which a gun temporarily shipped under the old rule has been used in crime.

The short-term impact may be limited, because many major manufacturers already require firearms sent to non-employees to go through the transfer process. But manufacturers who didn’t follow that practice will now have to ship guns to licensed dealers to complete these “transfers.”

Furthermore, the ruling only applies to temporary shipments by federal firearms licensees to carry out those licensees' business operations. Given that limitation, the new ruling won't affect private individuals who ship guns to themselves when traveling to shoot or hunt, or who ship firearms to a manufacturer or gunsmith for repair or customization.

However, this new ruling may have broader implications for future issues. For example, some have suggested that although the ruling doesn’t relate directly to rental of guns for use on commercial shooting ranges, its reasoning might require rentals to be treated as “transfers” subject to recordkeeping and background check requirements.

Please rest assured that NRA-ILA is seeking clarification of the scope of this new ruling. If necessary, we will consider appropriate action to reverse any adverse impact on law-abiding gun owners.