Join Date: June 4, 2007
Location: Shenandoah Valley
Aftershocks of student activism still showing up
I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating. The change in attitudes from last year's news staff to this year is simply amazing. This article would NEVER have flown before "gun rights week" at JMU and while there are still a ton of folks who fit into either "condition white" or "nay-sayers", I've noticed a lot of "coming out of the closet" in terms of RKBA opinions over the past year amongst staff and faculty.
Ultimately the activism represented by "gun rights week" really seems to have had some long term effects.
Shoot it down Supreme Court
Shoot it Down, Supreme Court
Posted By John Scott On March 4, 2010 @ 1:01 am In Opinion
Regulating Guns is a Safer Alternative to Prohibition
In the 1925 Supreme Court case Gitlow v. New York, Justice Edward Terry Sanford, wrote the majority opinion, solidified the “bad tendency” test and expanded the amount of speech the federal government could regulate. In the middle of his opinion, Sanford incidentally extended protection of free speech and free press against state governments. Although incorporation of two fundamental First Amendment rights into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is an extremely significant precedent, how Sanford nonchalantly established the protections in his dicta is odd.
As an individual with a deep respect for the Constitution, it would be hypocritical of me to arbitrarily hold rights derived from one amendment in a higher regard than rights associated with another. Because of this mutual respect, I support a total application of all enumerated rights and protections in the first eight amendments against the state governments.
I find it ironic how passively the Supreme Court applied free speech and free press protections to the states, yet how divided the Court was in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case to simply recognize an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, much less incorporate it against the states. Actually, the Court has never been presented with an opportunity to consider a Second Amendment incorporation — until this week. Tuesday, the Court heard oral argument for McDonald v. Chicago, a case questioning the constitutionality of Chicago gun bans and asking whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated against the individual states. June is the Court’s deadline to render a decision.
Mark Konkol, whose blog is featured on the Chicago Sun-Times Web site, provided an interesting perspective about the case’s plaintiff, Otis McDonald. Konkol notes in a short blog post published Tuesday, “I spent an afternoon with [McDonald] to hear why a black, liberal Democrat would side with the gun lobby…Mr. McDonald[s] message was clear: It’s unfair to force an elderly man and his wife to sit inside their home defenseless when neighborhood criminals all around them are armed with a cache of weapons the size of a small militia…Mr. McDonald’s calm, reasoned insights were eye opening.”
Protecting gun rights is more of a bipartisan issue than the current health care debate. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT), as well as Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN) and Mike Ross (D-ARK), filed an amicus curiae (Latin for “friend of the court”) brief in support of Otis McDonald and his wish to keep a firearm in his home. In addition to who’s filed, 56 Senators, including both Virginia Sens. Warner and Webb, and 249 Representatives, including Congressman Goodlatte (who represents Harrisonburg,) signed on to the brief. In fact, more members of Congress have signed on to this amicus curiae brief than any in the history of the Court and the Congress. The answer to the question raised in McDonald is indisputably bipartisan. That solution, stemming from a majority of both houses of Congress, is protecting a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms on all levels of government.
Aside from the constitutional question presented, it is worth mentioning the ineffectiveness of current gun prohibition laws. Legislatures could pass the strictest gun control laws in the world, and criminals would still break them. The only parties affected are law-abiding citizens, like Otis McDonald, who are stripped of their ability to defend themselves in their own homes and are left vulnerable to criminal attacks.
A government can try to ban a product as much as it wants, from marijuana to Cuban cigars to assault weapons, but it can never destroy a market. The unfortunate byproduct of governmental prohibition is the creation of a black market — which the government cannot regulate. Criminals, not law-abiding citizens, are the primary customers of this market. Therefore, it makes sense that regulation is a safe alternative to prohibition. No one can argue that it is more dangerous for the government to allow and institute common-sense regulation instead of banning handguns outright, as Washington and Chicago have done. Only in a fantasy world can one assume firearms will simply vanish with the implementation of a governmental ban.
It is my sincere hope that the Supreme Court trusts the American people and incorporates the Second Amendment, ultimately allowing 76 year-old Otis McDonald the natural right to defend himself and his family in his own home.
John Scott is a senior writing, rhetoric & technical communication major and former SGA senator.
"The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on"