Sunday, June 29, 2008
E.J. Dionne--Writing From Ignorance
But these pragmatic judgments underestimate how radical this decision is in light of the operating precedents of the past 69 years. The United States and its gun owners have done perfectly well since 1939, when an earlier Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as implying a collective right to bear arms, but not an individual right. (Emphasis added).
It is not radical to see what the Second Amendment clearly states. It's radical to see in the Constitution rights that clearly don't exist, like to abortion and to gay marriage.
I have to admit that I don't actually know what Mr. Dionne means by "operating precedent." I'm going to assume it's the same as just plain old precedent. I note, however, that the 58 year old actual precedent from Eisentrager, which Justice Kennedy threw over, based on his mere whim, in Boumedienne, engendered no such outrage by E.J. The 69 year old case he is referring to is the Miller case, which did not hold in any way that the 2nd Amendment was not an individual right but a collective right (whatever that is--some sort of unique right not repeated anywhere else in the document). Mr. Dionne appears not to have read the decision but is dimly aware of the lack of such a holding when he says the Miller case implied such a non existent collective right. Precedent is never implied; it is rather clearly stated and it resolves the main issue before the court. That is, it is not obiter dicta.
So in the 'logic' of Mr. Dionne, that an editor of the Washington Post signs off on, the majority of the Supreme Court was "radical" for reading the Constitution as written, seeing a right plainly in there and not overturning a non precedential ruling in a case which did not address the same issue. No wonder he's outraged.
As to the statement that gun owners have done well since Miller was decided (the issue decided in that case was that the Supreme Court could not take judicial notice that a very short shotgun was a weapon useful to a member of the unorganized Militia), I have to point out that citizens of DC, Chicago, and parts of San Francisco have been deprived of their right to keep and bear arms for decades. Not doing so well in my book. But perhaps Mr. Dionne meant everyone else but those several million people. There's more.
In his intemperate dissent in the court's recent Guantanamo decision, Scalia said the defense of constitutional rights embodied in that ruling meant it "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." That consideration apparently does not apply to a law whose precise purpose was to reduce the number of murders in the District of Columbia.
The defense of constitutional rights to which Mr. Dionne refers is to non citizens outside America. I can guarantee you the framers did not intend to Constitution to apply outside the United States to foreigners. So in EJWorld, applying constitutional rights to foreigners, our actual enemies, in foreign land--good, recognizing that citizens back here at home have an important right--bad. It may have been the "precise purpose" of the gun ban in D.C. but the actual effect was just the opposite.
The ban went into effect in early 1977, but since it started there is only one year (1985) when D.C.'s murder rate fell below what it was in 1976. But the murder rate also rose dramatically relative to other cities. In the 29 years we have data after the ban, D.C.'s murder rate ranked first or second among the largest 50 cities for 15 years. In another four years, it ranked fourth.
For instance, D.C.'s murder rate fell from 3.5 to 3 times more than Maryland and Virginia's during the five years before the handgun ban went into effect in 1977, but rose to 3.8 times more in the five years after it.
However, as Rush Limbaugh often points out, those on the left don't care about actual results of their actions, they are only to be judged on their benevolent intent, no matter what Hell results. Here was a precise example of that. The gun ban never prevented a single death in DC and only caused the law abiding to be the defenseless victims of the law defying armed criminals, as gun bans always do.