Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Here's the lead story at Politico right now:

Democrats quietly cheer high court gun ruling

... For [Democrats], the court's groundbreaking decision couldn't have been more beneficial to the cause in November. Now, Democratic candidates across the map figure they have one less issue to worry about on the campaign trail. And they won't have to defend against Republican attacks over gun rights and an angry, energized base of gun owners.

"It removes guns as a political issue because everyone now agrees that the Second Amendment is an individual right and everybody agrees that it's subject to regulation," said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the culture program at the centrist think tank Third Way.

A House Democratic aide agreed that the court's decision removed a potentially combustible element from the mix.

"The Supreme Court ruled here that you have a fundamental right to own and bear arms, and that means at the national level it's harder -- whether it's Republicans or whether it's the [National Rifle Association] -- to throw that claim out: if Democrats are in charge they're going to come get your guns," said the aide. "It pretty much took that off the table." ...

You guys are joking, right?


To reiterate the point I made yesterday, the gun movement (and right-wingers in general) can never acknowledge victory. Practically speaking, gun groups can't do this because it would be tantamount to saying that the groups are no longer needed and members don't need to send those renewal checks anymore. And emotionally, rank-and-file right-wingers always cling to the notion that they're besieged and aggrieved.

We know right-wingers insist that their taxes are skyrocketing under President Obama even though most people have received a tax cut. And on the subject of guns, we know that virtually all gun fans think Obama is a gun-grabber even though he's loosened gun restrictions.

Moreover, the Supreme Court created a huge make-work program for the gun lobby when it said that certain unspecified local gun restrictions could stand (and will inevitably face court challenges). That gives the gunners a tremendous sense of purpose: Yay! We're still besieged! The courts could allow all kinds of local gun restrictions! Lock and load!

Thus, last night I was at the Drudge Report and saw (and I'm sorry I didn't screen-grab it) an NRA ad that referenced the gun ruling and focused on a big fat number: 5-4. Directly below the ad was a picture of Elena Kagan, from Drudge's lead story. Message: Our liberties are hanging by a slender thread!

Yesterday, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre wasn't about to declare total victory:

This decision cannot lead to different measures of freedom, depending on what part of the country you live in. City by city, person by person, this decision must be more than a philosophical victory. An individual right is no right at all if individuals can't access it....

The NRA will work to ensure this constitutional victory is not transformed into a practical defeat by activist judges, defiant city councils, or cynical politicians who seek to pervert, reverse, or nullify the Supreme Court's
McDonald decision through Byzantine labyrinths of restrictions and regulations that render the Second Amendment inaccessible, unaffordable, or otherwise impossible to experience in a practical, reasonable way....

Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, said the same thing to Politico's Ben Smith:

... "The NRA is preparing [our] next round of legal challenges," Cox told me, declining to specify targets....

"We’re going to be in coutrtooms making sure these aren't just words on a piece of paper," he said....

And remember, this is the gun group that's considered less hardcore. NPR's Nina Totenberg talked to a representative of the gun lobby's bad cop, the Gun Owners of America, and he promised lots of new battles, some of which are going to be real humdingers:

TOTENBERG: Among the other questions that will face the courts are whether assault weapons can be banned, or machine guns, or so-called cop-killer bullets that pierce armor. What about restrictions on the number of guns that can be sold to one person, or the age of the gun owner? Herb Titus, counsel for the Guns Owners of America, said he expects challenges as well to registration and licensing requirements.

TITUS: You can't license booksellers. You can't single them out. You can't single out magazine publishers. Why should you be able to single out firearms dealers?

...TOTENBERG: ... The first priority of his group right now, he says, is to invalidate a federal law that bans the sale of guns to anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

TITUS: I believe that the prohibition against people who've been convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence will probably be the area of litigation down the road.


I know -- this is fighting to loosen gun laws, not fighting to prevent them from being tightened. Surely Democratic officeholders can count on voters to see that distinction -- right?

I doubt it. When your baseline demand is that every gun transaction in America should be subjected to as few restrictions as a sale at a pre-Brady Law gun show in the Deep South -- and that clearly is most gun zealots' baseline -- then anything less is tyranny, and any politician who supports virtually any gun control law (even one directed against convicted wife beaters) is a jackbooted fascist.


Wakefield Tolbert said...

Exactly. Because nothing says permanence like 5-4 rulings, and the Court, as we all know, never has ideological shifts that can turn on a time when one of the old coots finally kicks out and is replaced by someone else like, say, Elena Kagan or the Wise Latina, who also disdains the "individual right" notions.

And of course, as we know, politicians NEVER play both ends against the middle, while telling operatives on the side...oh...just as an example....we'll get rid of guns piecemeal and under the radar, starting with the attempt to demonize them, and then the old bacon-lettuce-cheese method of regulation to the point of "difference without distinction". That is, technically legal but all but impractical for many gun enthusiasts:



Wakefield Tolbert said...

Actually, it is totally FALSE that libs have ever called for gun restrictions and in some cases outright bans based on incremental legislative moves...


So, we appreciate your service in this regard, comrades in arms...well...loving arms, not guns!