28 June 2010

Initial Reactions To McDonald v. Chicago

The Supreme Court has just held that the Second Amendment, interpreted in Heller to protect a natural right to self-defense by ensuring access to firearms, applies to (i.e., limits) the states as well.  This probably (but not necessarily) means that Chicago's gun ordinance, which has the practical effect of preventing private citizens from owning guns, is dead.

My off the cuff reactions:

1.  The privileges and immunities clause, which for more than 100 years has been thought to be dead, is really, really dead.

2.  Justice Thomas' lone opinion that the Second Amendment applies against the states because of the privileges and immunities clause, rather than through the due process clause, was necessary for him to concur in the result because he disbelieves in due process clause incorporation (as do I).

3.  Thomas' opinion is defensible, because the right to keep and bear arms really is a privilege of federal citizenship and arguably the amendment applies against the states on its own terms ("the right of the people" (emphasis added)), although the Supreme Court has long since rejected that idea.

4.  This opinion will be a seven day wonder, much like Heller and the corporate free speech decisions, with the media lamenting conservative judicial activism.  A few laws will be tweaked and someone in Chicago will get a new gun, but not much will actually change.

5.  The only exception might be that McDonald will weaken the NRA.  Not much existential threat to gun ownership if it's a recognized constitutional right.


Harry Eagar said...

I am agnostic about the wisdom and/or utilily of the 2nd but was amused to read an account yesterday (linked at RtO) of how in Wyoming a naked unarmed nut livened up his rampage by acquiring a loaded pistol from a passer-by.

Nothing improves a good rampage story like turning a naked unarmed nut into a naked armed nut.

Hey Skipper said...

Something like 40 states have carry laws that range from fairly to very permissive.

That doesn't seem to have slowed down the NRA much.

The editorial in today's NYT is a perfect example of how hysterical antigunism is, in ways reminiscent of warmenism.

It cites all the gun deaths in Chicago without once acknowledging those deaths happen despite the complete absence of guns.

While resolutely failing to spend even one syllable highlighting the sky high murder rates in places where gun ownership is routine.

Or notice the irony that the reason behind many gun control laws, at least in the South, was to deprive blacks of guns, and thereby, self defense.

Now, the areas of the US with by far the highest murder rates are both black, and deprived of gun ownership.