Thursday, June 23, 2022


As expected:
In a major expansion of gun rights, the Supreme Court said Thursday that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, a ruling likely to lead to more people legally armed in cities and elsewhere, The ruling came with recent mass shootings fresh in the nation’s mind and gun-control legislation being debated in Congress and beyond.

About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, which struck down a New York gun law. The high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade came on a 6-3 split with the court’s conservatives in the majority and liberals in dissent.
Yes, Antonin Scalia, in the 2008 Heller vs. District of Columbia decision, told us that we'd still have some local control over firearms, and seemed to imply that that control would include control over who can carry and where:
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
But Scalia was careful to say only that limits on concealed carry had long been considered constitutional, not that he believed they were. Following those weasel words with an enumeration of gun restrictions he thought were constitutional, Scalia bamboozled us into believing that there were limits to the right's pro-gun absolutism. Then again, this Court would have had no problem flatly contradicting Scalia to achieve its ends.

I'm so old I remember when the hottest idea on the right was "federalism," or "devolution" -- the notion that what the government does should be done, whenever practicable, at the level of government closest to the people. Right-wingers still trot this idea out sometimes -- here's a Heritage Foundation essay published last month entitled "The American People Must Relocate Power to the States." But apparently this doesn't apply to guns.

In fact, the idea was in vogue at a time when Democrats seemed capable of enacting new social programs, an era that ended, perhaps permanently, with the 2010 midterms. And, of course, it began to be difficult for right-wingers to argue that government is better the more it's localized when liberal cities began introducing higher minimum wages, protections for trans people, and so on.

"Devolution" was always a highfalutin way of saying "Let's return decision-making to state governments, where the Koch brothers and their ideological allies won't have to spend as much money on lobbying to get what they want, and where we can use gerrymandering and voting laws to establish permanent control."

In any case, it's clear that the right's principled view of government is that all decisions should be made by whichever part of the government is controlled most effectively by the GOP. That will probably mean the entire federal government starting in 2025, so they'll be able to pick and choose who gets to overturn every liberal law, and how.

No comments: