Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

LA Times gets it right on Second Amendment

Posted by sanityinjection on October 6, 2009

It’s always nice when a media outlet exceeds your expectations. So I was very pleased to read the Los Angeles Times’ editorial today on the Second Amendment case that the Supreme Court has decided to hear.

Briefly, the case focuses on the city of Chicago’s ban on private owenership of handguns. You may recall the Court recently struck down Washington D.C.’s gun ban, ruling that the Second Amendment definitively applies to individuals. In this case, the legal question is whether the state of Illinois (and by extension Chicago) must be bound by the federal Second Amendment in passing its laws. Technically, the amendments in the Bill of Rights only constrain the federal government; however, the Fourteenth Amendment has been taken to extend the protections of the Bill of Rights to state law in other cases.

I applaud the LA Times for recognizing the clear legal argument, and the potential danger to our freedoms if the court were to rule that the states need not be bound by the Bill of Rights. In doing so, the paper’s editors explicitly state that the goal (which they support) of controlling gun violence through legal restrictions on gun ownership and use cannot justify violating the logical interpretation of the Constitution. Or to put it much more simply: The end does not justify the means.

Newspaper editorial boards tend to be practical types unsympathetic to moral, legal, or technical arguments. The Times’ e-board in this case has displayed a wisdom and prudence unusual among its peers.


11 Responses to “LA Times gets it right on Second Amendment”

  1. Jess Chapman said

    I’m still wary of using the Second Amendment to justify individual gun rights; I interpret the entire text as applying only to “a well-regulated militia.” You can make a case for the issue without bringing in the Constitution, though.

  2. Declaratory clauses (anything that starts with “whereas”) are NEVER taken as binding in official documents. To interpret the Second Amendment in that way would be to turn hundreds of years of legal precedent on their collective tuchus. The Founders meant to explain their motivation, not to constrain their action by it.

    The idea that the Second Amendment is some kind of “collective” right is a deeply insidious notion. I acknowledge that it may seem reasonable to laypeople, but anyone with knowledge of the law who is honest must admit it’s pretty much batshit. LEnin and Mao were big on collective rights, too.

  3. Name said

    Nice slippery-slope argument there, numbnuts.

    Banning handguns in a locality in which there is no rationally justifiable need for handguns (a person can “protect” him or herself with any other kind of gun not outlawed by such a ban) is a very specific case and cannot be legally construed to mean that “the states need not be bound by the Bill of Rights”.

    • “Name”, I’m not the one who determined that the case will be decided on that point of law. That’s what the several judges who have already heard the case on the appeals level have decided that it comes down to. I’m sure if you read the appellate decision you can discover why that is.

      As for your idea of the “rationally justifiable need for handguns”, if you think it’s just as easy to defend yourself with a shotgun or a rifle than with a handgun in the confines of a small urban apartment, then my friend, you are the one who is demonstrably a numbnut.

      • Name said

        Who or what do you need to defend yourself from in your small urban apartment?

      • In Chicago? Maybe you haven’t been following the news in that city which is experiencing an epidemic of violence – which the gun ban has done nothing to prevent. Many city residents from younger people to seniors say they do not feel safe in their own homes and are afraid to even step outside. But thank goodness for the gun ban, right?

      • Name said

        I still fail to see how having _more_ guns on the street would somehow reduce violence.

        Regardless, the fact that people do not feel safe in their homes does not mean that they should be given unfettered access to all manner of weaponry in order to “defend themselves”. Statistical evidence has repeatedly shown that family members are the ones most likely to die or to be injured by a gun kept in the home, often by accident.

      • I disagree with your assumption that allowing law-abiding citizens to keep firearms mean there will be more “guns on the street”. Criminals do not seem to be having any difficulty obtaining guns despite the restrictive gun laws, so how would lifting them make any difference to the criminals – except the knowledge that their victims would no longer be helpless? Don’t you think there is some deterrent value for a would-be burglar knowing that the homeowner might be armed?

        You are certainly correct about the danger of gun-related accidents. People also injure themselves with other household objects and drown in their own bathtubs. Common sense and safety precautions should always be used. I think the concept of trigger locks is a good one, too.

        Finally, you wrote about people being “given” access to weaponry. Given by whom? By the government. Your statement comes from the base assumption that ownership of firearms is a privilege that the government can grant or take away as it sees fit. That is completely the opposite of the intention of listing the right to bear arms as one of the fundamental rights of American citizens. Ultimately, you are advocating a philosophy that is contrary to the kind of government the Founding Fathers wanted to live under. I would suggest that if you truly believe that the practical arguments in favor of gun control should trump the Constitutional right to bear arms, then you should support amending the Constitution, rather than ignoring it.

  4. mark said

    The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to guarantee and legalize what had just happened: freeholders using their privately-held guns to end tyranny.

    It worries me when people try to nibble away at any right guaranteed in the Constitution. ‘Modernizing’ rights away by legislation or judicial interpretation, that’s a precedent, one that eventually may endanger other constitutional rights. I think that disregarding the Second Amendment eventually endangers the First Amendment.

    Perhaps it is true that widespread gun ownership is not a good idea any longer. Perhaps the Second Amendment has outlasted its usefulness. But the way to update the Constitution is via the amendment mechanism established in the Constitution; it shouldn’t be done by nibbling away via legislation.

  5. I commend to your attention this piece by Robert Avrech on the logic of gun ownership and gun control. Although written for the Jewish community and from a Jewish religious perspective, the logic is still applicable in a secular context:

  6. Daddy81 said

    Furthermore, if an atom is false in the well-founded model of a program then it does not belong to any of its stable models. ,

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