Thursday, June 26, 2008

DC Gun Ban Nixed - Second Amendment Defined (Finally!)

The Supreme court conclusively interpreted Second Amendment to the United States of America's Constitution for the first time today.
  • "High court strikes down gun ban"
    CNN (July 26, 2008)
    • "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a sweeping ban on handguns in the nation's capital violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
    • "The justices voted 5-4 against the ban, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority.
    • "The case's lead plaintiff, Dick Heller, applauded the decision, saying, 'I'm very happy that I am now able to defend myself and my household in my own home.'...
  • "Supreme Court Shoots Down D.C. Gun Ban
    • "5-4 Ruling Says Washington's 32-Year-Old Ban Incompatible With 2nd Amendment
    • "(CBS/AP) The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.
    • "The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.
    • "The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: 'A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'
    • "The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia...."
And it's about time. That two-century-old amendment has been a point of contention between Americans with hoplophobia, those with a more balanced view of the world, and, of course, 'gun nuts.' (Haven't heard of hoplophobia? I'm not surprised. See "EEEK! Guns! Hoplophobia and Foreign Policy" (December 23, 2007).)

What Does This Have to do With The War on Terror?

Quite a lot, actually. America is a free country. One of the freedoms that American citizens have is to own potentially dangerous technologies, like
  • Guns
  • Containers of
  • Fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate
  • Printing presses
  • Fax machines
  • Computers
Printing presses? Fax Machines? Computers?! I'm serious: It's been argued that Martin Luther's 95 Theses would have been discussed Wittenberg, and maybe surrounding towns, and stopped there: if some incendiarist hadn't gotten his hands on them, printed copies, and distributed the things.

Fax machines and especially computers represent technologies that give ordinary people access to enormous amounts of information: and the power to communicate with others that hadn't existed before the Information Age.

So far, America doesn't place many limits on who can own computers, and what they can do with them. Other countries do. China has been in the news a bit, since some people over here find China's well-regulated Internet distressing: and for good reason.

I like freedom. On the whole, I'd rather live in America than, say, Zimbabwe.

Back to the Supreme Court Gun Ban Decision

I don't think that the screwballs on either end will be happy with this decision.

"The Constitution does not permit 'the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,' Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns." (CBS News)
  • Hoplophobes will be appalled that those scary guns will run rampant in the streets, killing people
  • 'Gun nuts' will see the idea of licensing guns as anathema
I doubt that we've heard the end of this issue.

As for me, I'm glad to see that social action from the Groovy Age is getting reviewed. I've been uncomfortable with the self-styled best and brightest of America trying to protect the common lot from their lack of intelligence and self-control. Particularly since my ungroovy beliefs make me one of the common lot.

Copy of the opinion

From the Supreme Court website:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.