Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Constitutional Rights Do Not Equal Constitutional Insanity

   There are Constitutional rights and there are Constitutional absurdities, the latter having been played out during the horror show in Las Vegas last weekend.  Adhering to the rights
A Right
Not A License For Craziness
guaranteed by the country's founding documents doesn't mean extending them to a point somewhere far beyond the reaches of common sense.  For example, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution has some limitations on freedom of speech, most famously its inherently sensible denial of the right to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater when no such emergency exists. 
     Why that principle hasn't been applied to the 2nd Amendment seems to me a failure of logic, experience and good judgement.  Having toted and used the most lethal weapons of my generation during my 13-month hitch as a Marine in Vietnam, I'm no stranger to the genre of firearms. Nor am I a stranger to their purposes and value in civilian life. Gun ownership is an embedded part of our lives in this country, a principle that I have no trouble supporting.  I recall a close relative of mine who began carrying a handgun after a woman was raped in the underground parking garage of his upscale condominium. Who can't condone the sense of security that comes with a decision like that?  I also appreciate that a lot of people simply enjoy the sport of shooting, along with the history, the mechanics and the aesthetics of guns and rifles.  And of course there are those who hunt with firearms, a sturdy community of good citizens who also happen to support many of our wildlife conservation programs through their hunting license fees.  They're also damn good for business, as I and my peers in the lodging industry will be quick to affirm.  
     Then along came Las Vegas, which reminds us that a fondness for that guaranteed right to bear arms has occasionally morphed into a bloody and violent freak show.  The Vegas madman Stephen Paddock had an arsenal far above and beyond the needs of any rational gun owner.  News reports say that police found 43 firearms and several thousand rounds of ammunition in searches of his home and the hotel room where he went berserk.  They were all obtained legally and some were apparently modified to make them simulate automatic gunfire.  The crowning absurdity is that all of this was in keeping with laws in the books in Nevada.  
     The framers of the Constitution couldn't possibly have had this in mind when they guaranteed Americans their right to bear arms, but we've gotten to this place and there's no turning back.  Mass killings are impossible to prevent.  Just the same, gun rights can co-exist with gun control that's designed to make things more difficult for determined and deranged people to obtain weapons in the quantities that Paddock possessed.  Constitutional rights are one thing, Constitutionally sanctioned insanity is another.  


  1. John, It is amazing to me that this is the one right in the Constitution that so many want to uphold and never give two hoots about the other rights in that sacred vessel of our democratic Republic. Here is the LTE that I wrote and was published in the Argus Leader today.
    As I watched the Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary on PBS, being a Vietnam era veteran although I was not in combat, I wondered which was more disrespectful to the National Anthem and the flag. Was it the deferments and refusal to serve of our then future leaders, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Donald Trump and others of our current flag-waving leaders? Or is it as some of current leaders would have us believe, the kneeling for the national anthem by Colin Kaepernick and others protesting the treatment of minorities in this country?

    The flag and the national anthem are only symbols of the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law for all of our citizens and yet that protection is unequally distributed to Native Americans in particular in our state, and other minorities nationwide. Our Constitution has been trashed by all of our presidents except two since World War II, by sending troops to war with out a declaration by Congress as required by the Constitution, and by the Congresses who funded those wars without that declaration.

  2. This is Senator Thune's opinion of laws preventing mass murder and his advice for those participating in a mass murder.

    Senator John Thune, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, did tell an NBC News reporter that lawmakers “ought to take a look at” conversion kits that can make guns more lethal. But Mr. Thune also suggested little could be achieved through legislation.

    “I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions,” he said. “To protect themselves. And in situations like that, you know, try to stay safe. As somebody said — get small.”

    Saying that Congress "ought to take a look" and in the next breath say nothing can be done, makes you wonder why even pretend like you will think about mass murders beyond your moment of silence. When someone is shooting at you with automatic weapons his sage advice is to "try to stay safe". Senator Thune you are shameful.

  3. I wonder if the Rogers' Court would consider this precedent?

    Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905): "The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint, nor is it an element in such liberty that one person, or a minority of persons residing in any community and enjoying the benefits of its local government, should have power to dominate the majority when supported in their action by the authority of the State." https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/197/11/case.html

  4. Where is that regulation required of a "well regulated militia?"

    1. The latest answer is found in District of Columbia v. Heller.

  5. Those interested about guns and rallies might find this of value: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/10/protests_might_be_on_place_you_can_t_carry_guns.html?wpsrc=newsletter_tis&sid=57efcd896e4adcf6648b5271