This is almost a “news of the weird” item. Most people by now will have read or heard about the recent Supreme Court (DC vs. Heller) ruling that struck down Washington DC’s ban on handguns. It’s a victory for the cause of gun rights to be sure, though folks like Randy Balko have pointed out that there’s plenty of room for skepticism as to how far the ruling really goes.
But what’s truly weird about the case are it’s enemies: the NRA and one of it’s chief votes in Congress, Orrin Hatch, who apparently did nearly everything in their power to derail the case largely because they didn’t control it (and, some suspect, because they wanted a delay or even a loss so that the issue could remain on their profitable radar of election outrages).
The sad thing is that the NRA will almost certainly tout the Heller victory in their fundraising efforts, and many of its members will even be tricked into celebratory donations. But there are plenty of smaller, less bloated and corrupt gun rights groups that actually supported this case from the outset who are far more deserving.
Gun rights isn’t a big issue for me: I think that the ownership of individual weapons of self-defense is, for good or ill, protected constitutionally, but I don’t see it as anywhere near as important of an issue to a functioning democracy as most other rights: I can imagine a good society with and without such a right, whereas I cannot in the case of things like free speech, free exercise, and so on.
But when it does come down to defending gun rights, no matter where you stand, it’s worth knowing who the real principled defenders are, and who’re the hapless hypocrites.
To me it’s much ado about nothing. Not that I don’t think protecting constitutional rights is important, it’s just that this is an area where the average citizen isn’t going to give a hoot what the law says. You can believe that those DC citizens who want handguns in their home or business for self-defense absolutely have them and damn the law. It’s a low risk crime for the otherwise law-abiding because they’re not likely to get caught with an illegal weapon when they don’t commit other crimes. For the otherwise law-abiding DC citizen, having the gun ban probably made it *easier* to actually own them – no need to bother with registration, permits, taxes, fees, etc.
There’s a saying concerning the commission of a crime in defense of one’s self, family, home, or business: “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”
There’s a common sense facet to the issue as well. Thirty years ago or so, the DC area was fraught with high rates of violent crime and the area remains a national leader in homicides and gun crimes. City Council’s response to the problem of a citizenry beset by armed gangs of drug dealers, armed robbers, and armed home invaders? Disarm the citizens! In the practical sense, that’s pure idiocy.
Very cogent commentary on the relative importance of gun rights . . .