Sunday, June 2, 2019

Quickies: Muscle Is As Important As Message

     Many gun-rights advocates found the late Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in the famous Heller case to be bittersweet at best. Justice Scalia affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, which is supremely important. However, the good Justice made a critical mistake toward the end of his opinion by sanctioning “reasonable regulations” on firearms ownership by state and local governments. That word reasonable has been the bane of rights advocates for many decades. No two persons agree on what it means.

     But wait: there’s more! Supreme Court decisions sound…well…supreme. But in practice they have only as much de facto authority as other jurisdictions, and other levels of government, show them. The executive branch of the federal government has ignored Supreme Court decisions about firearms rights in several important ways. State and municipal governments have flagrantly ignored such decisions when it suited them – and in Scalia’s “reasonable regulations” language, anti-gun states have found the golden key to denying their residents’ rights without even admitting that they’re doing so.

     If a regulatory regime is instituted with the power to decide who may own a gun of some type, then there will be a “process” of some sort for making such decisions. That process will take a nonzero amount of time to reach its decisions. Who decides what factors may be included in the decision making? Who decides how long that process may be protracted? Who decides what is “reasonable?”

     When I thought to apply for a pistol permit two years ago, the police sergeant who had been made the point man for applications in my county told me not to hold my breath while I wait, albeit not in so many words. What he did say, as accurately as I can remember it at this remove, was that the wait would be at least eight months and had been known to exceed that. And by the way, the permit-process fees, which totaled to more than $100, were non-refundable.

     That police sergeant wasn’t kidding. A dear friend who applied for a handgun permit three years ago is still waiting for a decision. Reasonable? You decide.

     It gets worse yet. The Supreme Court has no way to enforce the decisions it makes. Enforcement authority was denied to it deliberately, as a Constitutional constraint on its effective power. So even if the Heller decision were a flat denial of all regulatory power to the states and municipalities, the Court would still have to deal with being ignored by other jurisdictions and levels of government. There’s no effective penalty for it.

     If there’s a way out of this maze – that is, a way that doesn't involve hanging the majority of those in high office – I haven’t found it yet, and not for lack of effort.

     Delay is the deadliest form of denial. – C. Northcote Parkinson

1 comment:

furball said...

I believe the Democratic Party and the left in general have been testing the limits of "what they can get away with" for years. And it seems that both are unconcerned with the potential long-term consequences of their actions, so long as they move the Overton Window in their chosen direction.

We're seeing the Democratic Party and the left ignore laws and Executive Orders already. A direct denial of the Supreme Court is surely in our future.

Tim Turner