Friday, August 22, 2014

170.6 - Guns: but this is

Guns: but this is


A couple more things related to the issue of guns.

One is that there was a bit of good news in that on Tuesday, August 12, US District Judge Catherine Blake ruled that Maryland's gun control law is constitutional.

The law, called the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, was passed in reaction to the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. It is one of the strictest in the country, including banning 45 assault weapons and limiting gun magazines to no more than 10 rounds.

The law makes it illegal to manufacture, possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive any type of assault firearm. Punishment for breaking that law can be three years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

The gun nuts, of course, argued that this was a terrible, horrible, awful intrusion on their sacred 2nd Amendment rights, but the state successfully countered that that law focused on firearms used in mass shootings and so helped to protect the public.

And in fact, that good news may be less surprising than we think: Although it seems we hear a near-constant drumbeat of this restriction being you'll pardon the expression shot down and that one being overturned and the NRA getting this and gaining that, that may be more rhetoric and media fog than reality.

First, recall that District of Columbia v. Heller was the 2008 Supreme Court decision that for the first time in US history found that the 2nd Amendment included an individual right to a gun unconnected to militia service. In his new book called The Second Amendment, A Biography, Michael Waldman, who is president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, argues that even since Heller, courts have upheld nearly all gun rules, finding that yes, individuals have a right to a gun, but society has the right to protect itself, too. So, as Waldman advises, we have to keep on keepin' on and not give up: the gun nuts didn't.

Which indirectly raises something else I want to mention, just because.

Something that always strikes me funny is when the guns nuts decry any legislation putting any restrictions on their toys as violating the rights of "law-abiding gun owners." If your state, as Maryland did, passes a ban on some type of assault rifle and you keep one - you are not law-abiding! A change in a law cannot violate the rights of "law-abiding gun owners" because the very term "law-abiding" is defined by what the law is. It's not defined by some special quality of your personality ("I'm law-abiding") but by what the law is and whether or not you follow it. So please, no more "law-abiding" crap - being law-abiding is the very least we can expect of you.

And one last thing, just as an observation: Rep. Thomas Marino of Pennsylvania has in the past received an "A" rating from the NRA. A few weeks ago, one of his staffers, Ryan Shucard, was arrested for trying to carry a pistol into the Cannon House Office Building, one of the buildings holding offices for members of the House. Because while the NRA flunkies in Congress are happy to see guns everywhere, happy to see them in stores, schools, parks, trains and buses, love to have people packing heat everywhere they go, they are equally delighted for it to be a felony to try to carry a gun into the place where they work.

Sources cited in links:

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