Friday, June 27, 2008

On Guns --- Welcome to the Land Of Common Sense

Yesterday's gun ruling by the United States Supreme Court may be the first to interpret the Second Amendment but calling it historic may be histrionic.

The First Amendment and the Second Amendment are part of the bill of rights and define the limits of government relative to the citizens. Neither confers an absolute affirmative right on individuals.

The government cannot ban speech under the First; the government cannot ban guns under the Second.

The government can establish reasonable time, place and manner rules for the exercise of free speech; the government can establish reasonable time, place and manner rules for the use of guns.

The government can require a permit for use of free speech in a parade; the government can require a permit for use of a gun.

The government can set rules on where speech can occur (on the sidewalk, not in the Capitol); the government can set rules on where you can carry/use a gun.

Just as all speech isn't entitled to protection (obscenity, yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, slander or libel); the right to possess/use all guns/ammo (assault weapons, armor piercing ammo) isn't entitled to protection.

And, finally, just as the First Amendment doesn't constrain the right of any private person or organization (including colleges and universities) to set whatever rules they want on speech; the Second Amendment doesn't constrain the right of any private person or organization (including restaurants, colleges, concert venues, apartment complexes) to set whatever rules they want on guns.

May common sense rule.

2 comments:

Paul H said...

Wouldn't that be nice. but it won't.

Just the other day a man on the GRTC set off a panic by openly carrying a gun. Turns out it was legal, but I would have gotten off that bus too.

A year or two ago an activist wore his sidearm into a Henrico County Commission hearing. Turns out that was also legal, but if you've been to any public hearings, the last thing you want is someone packing a gun to emphasize his point. The NRA regularly campaigns against restrictions on automatic weapons, background checks, waiting periods and plastic guns.

So far we don't have a definition of what "arms" are. When the consitution was written, it was generally a muzzle loading musket, now it might be considered an AK47 or RPG.

Common sense is anything but and could be considered an oxymoron in this day and age.

CG2 said...

Paul:
Thanks for your comment.

You are right. The General Assembly of Virginia isn't the repository of common sense on reasonable gun regulation, and it has stood in the way of localities seeking to implement some reasonable constraints that clearly would be upheld as constitutional under this decision.

What I was trying to say is that the decision does not stand for the proposition that there is an absolute right to carry a gun anywhere you want or to possess one without registration or permit.

The decision confirms that common sense gun rules will be upheld.

Now we just need to elect more folks to the legislature willing to back the government's right to impose such reasonable, common sense rules on gun use and possession in Virginia.