Friday, June 27, 2008

The Cynic's View of Heller

Vox Day pretty much nails down the "on the other hand...." viewpoint on the Heller decision.

Prior to the ruling, Day wrote:

...while it has the potential to be a landmark decision in defense of the Second Amendment, I fully expect the Supreme Court to pull one of their patented weasel jobs. The Court has a much greater tendency to get expansive in its interpretations when extending Federal power, not when limiting it

A truism.

Post-ruling, he notes, quoting Scalia:

“the most natural reading of ‘keep Arms’ in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.”

“The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.”

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

“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.”

And comments:

I'm guessing that a confrontation with the government is not going to fall within the aegis of this protected right, despite the historical context of the Constitution's authors having very recently confronted their own lawful government with arms.

Scalia's opinion does allow two readings--both for AND against full-autos, for example. While he allows that the 2A was inserted partially to assuage the anti-Federalists (who were concerned about Big Gummint and thus would keep armaments sufficient to defeat a Gummint army used against the citizens), he also used language which seems to strip the RKBA of 'non-ordinary' weapons, such as machine guns.

Day is an anti-Federalist, and doesn't like Scalia's weaseling.

If nothing else, Scalia's ruling will make a lot of lawyers happy; there will be a LOT more litigation over his dicta on "regulation."

Belling, for example, sees Heller as obviating Wisconsin's ban on concealed-carry. I don't--at least, not by its plain language.

The Agitator also chimes in.

...Scalia also goes out of his way to note that the "individual right" the Court found today doesn’t undo onerous regulations on the sale of guns, leaves untouched bans on "unusual or dangerous" weapons, and doesn’t overturn existing bans on concealed carry...

• A future Congress is barred from passing a uniform federal ban on handguns or rifles in the home. Just about any other federal regulation would probably still be okay, provided it meets the minimal Commerce Clause test in U.S. v. Lopez.

• The 600,000 residents of Washington, D.C. and residents of other federal protectorates now have the constitutional right to own a handgun, provided they meet a set of conditions put forth by the city council—the limits of which will be litigated at a future date. Also, even this right for this small group of people extends only to handguns or rifles kept in the home.

We repeat: happy lawyers.

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