Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large, a perennial gun control proponent, evidently thinks the United States would be better off if the Second Amendment weren’t such a roadblock to the arrival of Utopia.
Here’s part of what Large wrote Monday morning:
“Australia famously enacted strict gun-ownership laws after a mass shooting in 1996. The impact has been spectacular. There have been no mass shootings there since, and both suicides and homicides declined in the years since. Suicides declined dramatically. That should matter to us for many reasons, not least that suicides constitute the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. Mental-health care matters, but it would never be a substitute for reducing people’s access to the most effective tool for committing suicide.
“But as much as we have in common with Australia, the U.S. is unlike that country in some ways that make controlling guns more difficult here. Gun ownership is sacred for a lot of people in the U.S., which makes the topic of gun control dangerous political territory.
“And the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 interpreted the Second Amendment to our Constitution as ensuring an individual right to own firearms, something that Australia doesn’t have to contend with.
“It will take a sustained effort of political, cultural and legal change to bring us more into line with other democracies.”
Later in the column, he shifts to the City of Seattle’s attempt to improve police behavior, noting that U.S. District Judge James Robart “declined to accept Seattle city legislation on police accountability because of concerns about city negotiations with police unions on the terms of the legislation. Robart placed the demands of the Constitution above those negotiations.”
So, it’s okay for a judge to put more faith in the Constitution when it suits a newspaper columnist, but the same Constitution should be eroded, if not changed outright, when it comes to the second tenet of the Bill of Rights?
Can’t have it both ways; either all parts of the Constitution have meaning, or no parts do. The Constitution is not a buffet from which one picks and chooses that which he prefers while leaving the rest to spoil. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition, up to and including the part about how “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Many, including Justice John Paul Stevens, have contended that the Second Amendment only protects some “collective” right to bear arms as part of a militia. But writing for the majority in District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller, the late Justice Antonin Scalia put this belief where it belongs:
“JUSTICE STEVENS places overwhelming reliance upon this Court’s decision in United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939). “[H]undreds of judges,” we are told, “have relied on the view of the amendment we endorsed there,” post, at 2, and “[e]ven if the textual and historical arguments on both side of the issue were evenly balanced, respect for the well-settled views of all of our predecessors on this Court, and for the rule of law itself . . . would prevent most jurists from endorsing such a dramatic upheaval in the law,” post, at 4. And what is, according to JUSTICE STEVENS, the holding of Miller that demands such obeisance? That the Second Amendment “protects the right to keep and bear arms for certain military purposes, but that it does not curtail the legislature’s power to regulate the nonmilitary use and ownership of weapons.”
Nothing so clearly demonstrates the weakness of JUSTICE STEVENS’ case. Miller did not hold that and cannot possibly be read to have held that…”
Yet even now, nine years after the Heller ruling was handed down, anti-gunners continue to insist the Second Amendment does not protect an individual civil right, and that the high court was wrong. Hillary Rodham Clinton was caught on audio saying that, and it helped cost her the election last November.
The First Amendment covers a lot of legal landscape. Why should not the Second Amendment be as liberally interpreted? The right to keep and bear arms is admittedly not popular among many liberals and many more newspaper columnists, but that doesn’t make it any less than any of the other rights delineated in the Constitution.
Citizens in this country do not line up to surrender their property, and thus their civil rights, just because citizens of another country without an important constitutional provision have done so.
And much as it distresses some people, civil rights protected by the Constitution cannot be eroded to the point they become government-regulated privileges simply because some people abuse these rights.
Lastly, Large is concerned about police use of force. That’s a justifiable concern, many gun rights activists would agree. So, why create a society in which only police have guns?
The Second Amendment is a roadblock. The framers of the Constitution put it there for a reason. At some point, anti-gunners may figure this out.