Principle and Practicality: the Fight for Gun Rights

posted in: Uncategorised | 0

There is a bill regarding concealed-carry reciprocity before Congress. Now, there isn’t a great chance it will pass this time, and zero chance Obama will sign it. But it will come up again and again, and given that things have been trending in a pro-concealed-carry direction for some time, at some point it might become law.

In addition, courts have forced Chicago and Washington, DC to issue carry permits on the grounds that the Second Amendment requires it.

All this is to the good, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. I find the limits of carry reciprocity to be very frustrating. It is annoying to be denied the right to carry when on vacation or a business, and even more so if you’re going someplace like Northern Virginia, where now both DC and VA issue licenses—but you can’t go across the river with your gun (to say nothing of MD). And of course I’m leaving out the ludicrous “gun free zones” that are the various Smithsonian museums and Park Service facilities that a tourist would like to visit (or the Post Office two blocks from your house!).

But at the same time, one of the problems we face these days is the excessive Federalization of every aspect of life. So much of what we do is dictated from Washington, DC. Sometimes that’s in the form of a mandate (as with health insurance), and sometimes it’s in the form of a bribe, as in the school lunches that today’s elementary students refuse to eat due to nutritional rules attached to Federal money.

Federal gun laws mostly stink. It makes no sense that you can’t buy a handgun out of state; it’s not as though your in-state gun store is more likely to know whether you’ll misuse it or not. It’s ridiculous that you need to go through a 6-month Federal process to slap a suppressor on your rifle. And while a short barreled shotgun might be a fantastic home-defense weapon, if you mess up the paperwork when you move to a new house, you’re looking at a felony, so few of us are willing to take the risk. The M855 ammo ban is a product of crappy Congressional drafting (not to mention crappy Congressional thinking!). Really, are there any Federal gun laws that you think are well-thought-out, effective, and fairly enforced? And yet we can’t get rid of the bad ones because THE CHILDREN!!!!

The courts are not a whole lot better. It was SCOTUS that gave us U.S. v. Miller, a confusing and factually-challenged decision that was finally clarified by DC. v. Heller 69 years later. Lawyers in disciplines as diverse as securities fraud and patent law will tell you that SCOTUS frequently misunderstands basic principles understood by every specialist in those fields. There’s no reason to think that they’re going to handle gun decisions any better, especially because they’ll have one side in each case flat-out lying, claiming that “assault weapons” are more powerful than hunting rifles, that M855 is designed to penetrate soft body armor, or that there’s an epidemic of AR-15’s being used by drug dealers.

And once SCOTUS speaks, it’s darn near impossible to reverse it even if you can demonstrate that they are completely, provably wrong.

So while I’d love to carry everywhere in the country, and I’d love to have that right extended to every citizen in every part of the United States, I am not sure that the Feds, either Congress or the courts, are actually going to do a decent job of it. Nor am I certain that I even want them to, rather than leaving the power at a more local level.

No right can survive if the culture abandons it. Gun rights are making strides every year both in culture and in the law, but there is a temptation to try to short-circuit the process. Doing that might work—or might not. Gun-control advocates are switching to a state-by-state strategy, as seen with the idiotic I-594 in WA. We on the pro-rights side need to be doing the same. If we can win concealed-carry (and other) rights by changing minds, it will be more durable than winning by changing votes in Congress or SCOTUS. Plus, who wants the Feds meddling in our lives even MORE?

Thoughts on how tomorrow or the next day.

Leave a Reply