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Posted by on Mar 24, 2007 in At TMV | 57 comments

Rudy Giuliani: Hypocrite Be Thy Name?

giuliani_guns.jpg

One, two three . . . 10 guns per castle is just fine

Allowing that times change and minds occasionally do too, hypocrite is a much overused word in the political lexicon.

But it is difficult to not tar presidential wannabe Rudy Giuliani with that label because of his mad dash from being a darling of gun control advocates to a suck-up to the anti-gun control crowd that dominates the Republican Party.

New York’s tough gun-control laws are a big reason that the Big Apple has gone from being a crime-ridden urban wasteland in the 1980s to a remarkably safe place with one of the lowest big-city murder rates, and Giuliani can take major responsibility for that happening because he tirelessly crusaded for gun control during his two terms as mayor from 1994-2001.

Whereas Giuliani once advocated sweeping federal gun-control laws, he now says that should be up to the states.

I have nothing against personal possession of a limited number of firearms in one’s castle (ie., a man’s home is his castle), but too many states have pitifully weak firearm laws that pretty much allow people to buy and have as many guns as they want, as many kinds of guns as they want, and to pack heat just about anywhere they want.

Worst yet, Giuliani has gone weak in the knees over support of the most sensible of control-control legislation — an assault weapons ban.

More here on Giuliani’s conversion. Click here for Born in the USA: Bang, Bang You’re Dead, an essay on gun control, and here for Crime & Punishment: A Tale of Two Cities, which explores why murder rates have been going down in New York City but have been going up in Philadelphia.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • BrotherAlpha

    I’d like to say that gun control is one part of what worked. You also need a bigger police force and better reputation with the community. Giuliani got two of those three right.

  • I have nothing against personal possession of a limited number of firearms in one’s castle (ie., a man’s home is his castle), but too many states have pitifully weak firearm laws that pretty much allow people to buy and have as many guns as they want, as many kinds of guns as they want, and to pack heat just about anywhere they want.

    Good. And if the people of the States agree with you, they can pass stricter laws.

    What’s wrong with letting states decide upon matters assigned to them by the Constitution in the first place. The Federal government will not infringe on the right of the people to bear arms.

    Constitutionally spoken, any federal law limiting people’s right to bear arms in whatever way, shape or form, is illegal. Federal laws restricting carrying weapons are unconstitutional.

    If you want to change that, I suggest changing the Constitution, not interpreting the Constitution in a creative way.

  • Michael:

    I acknowledge that you are way erudite when it comes to interpreting the laws of a country about which you know an exceeding amount, but in this instance you make something enormously complicated ridiculously simple to suit your politics. Your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is absolutist. Some of the greatest minds in the history of American jurisprudence would disagree with you.

    There is an inherent (and fascinating) struggle between the concept of federalism and the concept of states rights that has existed not only since the Constitution was promulgated, but was central to the debates while it was being written in the early 1780s.

    That struggle is perhaps nowhere more present than in issues like gun control, interstate commerce and most recently, medical marijuana.

    Under your simple calculus, states would be able to legislate drug laws as they wished, so you could get stupid on marijuana or ecstacy in California but be locked up for life for consuming those drugs in Mississippi.

    In this instance, and as the Supreme Court ruled last year, the legal mandates of the Justice Department and Food and Drug Administration as approved by Congress trump California law, as well as the laws of the other states where voter referenda have approved personal use of medical marijuana. (As it was, the Mississippi attorney general sided with California in the court fight not because he approved of medical marijuana, but he didn’t want Washington telling him what he could and could not do in this instance.)

    I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the rich history of federalism vs. states rights. You will find that your views will become considerably more nuanced as a result.

    A final thought: America is gun sick. That doesn’t mean that there are millions of citizens who don’t bear arms in a conscientious manner. But there is way too much gun violence — and not just in big cities — and there has to be some control on firearms. That is why a federal assault weapons ban is so sensible and opposition to it by your conservative U.S. brothers and sisters is so unconscionable.

  • domajot

    The gun lovers are just too powerful in the GOP to ignore. They’re a specidal interest group with lots of money.
    It’s a shame. Because their states’ rights come right across the border into NY to undo whatever good has been done in terms of getting gun play off the streets.

  • Domajot:

    You make a good point that undermines the states rights claims in gun control. New York City’s gun laws are strict. Pennsylvania’s gun laws are a joke.

    So just about anyone can walk into a gun shop in Pennsylvania and buy just about any kind of weapon with no questions asked and no waiting period. And then turn around and take that weapon into New York City to sell or to do harm.

  • I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the rich history of federalism vs. states rights. You will find that your views will become considerably more nuanced as a result.

    Actually, I know quite a lot about it Shaun and I am well aware that progressives have constantly expanded government power, bit by bit, step by step.

    Listen, you write “in this instance you make something enormously complicated ridiculously simple to suit your politics”… what politics? Am I in favor of people being able to carry guns? If so… when or where have I ever said that?

    My point is not whether people should, or should not be allowed to bear arms… my point is that the Constitution is quite clear on this matter, despite more creative minds trying to turn something quite simple, into something complicated.

    So just about anyone can walk into a gun shop in Pennsylvania and buy just about any kind of weapon with no questions asked and no waiting period. And then turn around and take that weapon into New York City to sell or to do harm.

    And then that person would act illegally and should be punished for it. That may take a while, that may be difficult, etc., but… that doesn’t mean that one can just ignore the Constitution.

    Again, there is something to be said for this but change the Constitution. What’s wrong with this? Why don’t anti-gun ownership people advocate doing this the right way?

    I think I know why it is… you write “America is gun-sick.”

    But if that were true, you, and people like you, would advocate changing the Constitution… you don’t.

    Also – your logical could also be used to defend George W. Bush’s expansion of Presidential power. People have “long debated” about that as well.

  • Also: this is of course nothign against you – I simply disagree with your line of reasoning. In the end, it doesn’t even touch me (directly… for now), so it’s more an intellectual / theoretical debate for me.

  • Peter

    When strict gun control laws nationwide were imposed in Britain violent crime went up like 500%.

  • Michael:

    It is not my line of reasoning. It is history.

    As it is, we a real disagreement over the intent of the 2nd Amendment, which I do not believe implies that any Joe Sixpack can purchase an AK-47, TEC-10 or Uzi and carry it around loaded under the driver’s seat of his SUV. I see no reason to change the Constitution.

    And I will assume that it is merely coincidental that you use conservative Republican talking points in arguing against any kind of federal gun control. Or maybe they’re just using yours. I dunno.

  • Michael may be confusing the second amendment with a copy of Punisher’s War Journal he had laying around. It happens to a lot of people.

  • What I want to know is why the focus on guns? It doesn’t say “guns.” It doesn’t say “small arms.” It says “arms.” If any jurisprudence actually pointed toward the absolutist interpretation of the amendment, you must be pretty pissed that you can’t by a Tomahawk missile at Wal-Mart.

  • domajot

    In response to MVG=
    Saying that the Constitution is clear on this subject is like saying the Bible is quite clear on any subject.

    The underlying problem here is that the Constitution is at its most unclear on the subject of the right to bear arms. The anti gun control side advocates simply ignoring the part of the text that doesn’t suit them. What the nation has been arguing about is the meaning of the reference to militias.
    The Constitution was written in an historical context, and it is not clear in the least how that translates to modern times.
    I have an opinion as to the correct interpretation, but first, let’s just lay to rest the argument for a ‘clear’ statement in the Constitution.

  • Entropy

    Shaun,

    It’s interesting you focus on gun control as the cause of the decrease in NYC’s crime rate to the exclusion of all other factors. A fair analysis would at least have mentioned them.

    Also, what is an “assault weapon?” Please define that term for me.

    As it is, we a real disagreement over the intent of the 2nd Amendment, which I do not believe implies that any Joe Sixpack can purchase an AK-47, TEC-10 or Uzi and carry it around loaded under the driver’s seat of his SUV. I see no reason to change the Constitution.

    The constitution does not imply, it states, “Congress shall make no law…”

    Also, an ak-47, tec-10 or UZI is no more lethal than any other type and brand of weapon. The only distinguishing features are that they have large magazines and have a military look, but many other weapons have large magazines as well. They are popular and trendy in gang culture, but that doesn’t make them more deadly. Often gun-control people who have no real understanding of firearms equate how “deadly” a particular gun is by how it looks – not it’s actual functionality.

    Finally, I think the question of gun control in reducing NYC’s violent crime rate is inconclusive. Federal statistics show that gun related crime has decreased steadily from the early 1990’s nationwide. NYC’s decrease closely follows the national trend. Furthermore, gun violence has been specifically targeted by NYC for reduction. Read this report for the strategies NYC employs – gun control is only one of many related to the reduction of gun violence and only one of many more related to violent crime in general. Therefore, to say that gun control is a “big factor” is not substantially supported.

  • Entropy

    Carpeicthus,

    At the time, “arms” was a term describing personal weapons which was distinct from cannon and other large weapons. So an absolutist position would allow for any weapon that could be carried and operated by a single person. But no serious gun advocates go that far and limit the definition to firearms.

  • Entropy:

    The lynchpin of New York City’s largely succeessful strategy to reduce crime was the so-called Broken Window policy in which police followed up on even the smallest infraction. Strengthening gun laws was an intergral part of this initiative.

  • I would be remiss to not include a personal qualifier:

    I believe absolutely in the right to bear arms, but with limitations. When I lived and worked on a farm, I would not have been without a rifle.

    I happen to have handguns in my house. All perfectly legal. But they are disassembled. The ammo is hidden in a separate place and it would take an enormous effort for anyone other than myself, including an intruder, to put any of this guns together and load them.

  • Worst yet, Giuliani has gone weak in the knees over support of the most sensible of control-control legislation — an assault weapons ban.

    Sensible to you, Shaun. But where in the Constitution is the federal government granted the right to determine what kind of guns individuals own? The Second Amendment expressly forbids the federal government from interfering with this right. It says nothing about the right to bear arms shall not be infringed unless the arms happens to be an assualt weapon.

    You’re against the War on (some) Drugs, Shaun. Isn’t an assault weapons ban just another form of prohibition? Isn’t owning a type of gun that the government doesn’t like every bit the victimless crime as owning a drug that the government doesn’t like? Do you really want the government to send police in paramilitary gear to kick down the doors of people whom a government informant accused of having illegal guns the way the government SWAT teams into the homes of people accused of having illegal drugs?

    Yes, Giuliani appears to be flip-flopping on the gun issue. But my humble opinion he’s gone from endorsing a flagrantly unconstitutional position to endorsing a constitutional position. No doubt, it’s a political move, but then again, so was Hillary Clinton’s abrupt transition from supporting the Iraq War to opposing it. The mere act of flip-flopping doesn’t necessarily mean that the new position is wrong.

  • Nic:

    As usual, you make great sense because, in part, you draw so effectively on an historic (as opposed to hysteric) perspective.

    I’m having a lot of trouble when I compare my late father’s use of marijuana to ease the pain and nausea of late-stage cancer (a felonious activity because they feds say so) with the Joe Sixpack who has a loaded Uzi under the driver’s seat of his SUV (which is a perfectly legal activity because the legislatures of some states say so).

    This is my pivot point and it runs along societal fault lines:

    I would decriminalize certain recreational drugs but criminalize the possession of certain especially lethal weapons in certain settings.

    He’re an especially pungent example of where many jurisdictions find themselves: It is illegal to smoke on school grounds. It is illegal to possess a marijuana cigarette on or within a certain radius of school grounds. But it is perfectly legal to have a loaded Uzi under the seat of your motor vehicle on school grounds.

    You have to admit that this is pretty twisted.

  • Entropy

    Shaun,

    What is an “especially lethal weapon”? If you look at the statistics, the vast majority of gun crime comes from handguns. So couldn’t one argue that handguns are “especially lethal?”

    How does one determine lethality of a gun? Bullet size? Bullet energy? Clip size? If the weapon “looks” lethal?

  • This argument is one of the reasons I came up with the name of my blog. The weapons available to the men who wrote the constitution were a very different breed than what we see now and society was very different. To ignore these facts and say that anyone should be able to own any weapon they can find to buy is nuts in my opinion. Why should the whacko who thought that a tax dispute with the city government of Kansas City gave him the right to start a fire and then ambush the EMTs and fire fighters who showed up own a .50 caliber snipers rifle that can punch through their vehicles with ease?

    What limits on weapon ownership would you find acceptable, Nic?

  • And of course this is a necessity for this conversation:

    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.

  • kritter

    Don’t you wish the Founding Fathers wrote that clause a little clearer,lol???
    As it is. it is open to interpretation by both sides. Do most people really own guns because they think they may need them someday to overthrow their government?

  • Entropy

    This argument is one of the reasons I came up with the name of my blog. The weapons available to the men who wrote the constitution were a very different breed than what we see now and society was very different. To ignore these facts and say that anyone should be able to own any weapon they can find to buy is nuts in my opinion. Why should the whacko who thought that a tax dispute with the city government of Kansas City gave him the right to start a fire and then ambush the EMTs and fire fighters who showed up own a .50 caliber snipers rifle that can punch through their vehicles with ease?

    If this is how you feel, then change the Constitution. The founders knew that society and technology changes over time and the put in place mechanisms to change it. That is the proper forum to address this concern – not reinterpreting the 2nd amendment to fit your personal notion of what weapons are legitimate to own.

  • Entropy

    Do most people really own guns because they think they may need them someday to overthrow their government?

    That’s immaterial. The 2nd amendment does not go into intent or what people are or are not allowed to have guns for.

  • That’s immaterial. The 2nd amendment does not go into intent or what people are or are not allowed to have guns for.

    Exactly

    If this is how you feel, then change the Constitution. The founders knew that society and technology changes over time and the put in place mechanisms to change it. That is the proper forum to address this concern – not reinterpreting the 2nd amendment to fit your personal notion of what weapons are legitimate to own.

    And exactly.

    As usual, you make great sense because, in part, you draw so effectively on an historic (as opposed to hysteric) perspective.

    There is nothing hystoric about stating that the second amendment and what the founding fathers said about this issue is quite clear.

    It takes a progressive, overly creative interpretation to come to your conclusion Shaun.

  • kritter

    But it is open to interpretation- and its never been clear whether the Founders intended people to be armed as part of a militia- which would translate to today’s military or for them to own private arsenals to use for their own self defense. I personally do not care if others own them, if there is some regulation on ownership. But the NRA sees even the slightest attempt at regulation as a full-scale assault on 2cnd Amendment rights.

  • Of course it’s all a matter of interpretation. One is a strict form of interpretation: one that believes that one should stay as close to the text as possible, or whether one believes that it’s about the ‘idea’ behind it all.

    When it’s legally about ‘the idea’, you’re, as Justice Scalia once said, “what would the founding fathers think of this issue… if they were just as wise as I am?”

  • kritter

    But this has been a political football in this country, MvdG. And the NRA is about as powerful an interest group as we have here-taking down political candidates that don’t agree with its stands by any means necessary.

    If you have candidates that are supported by the NRA appointing conservative judges, you get the interpretation that Scalia comes to- if they had been appointed by Carter they would reach the opposite- because there is enough wiggle room for both points of view.

  • Shaun,

    All I can say is:

    1) Every amendment in the The Bill of Rights (with the exception of the 10th, which is an endorsement of federalism) protect individual rights. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and government cannot interfere with this right. I see how anyone can derive from the Constitution the government’s right to regulate the ownership of guns–much less enact a wholesale prohibition of certain types of guns that the government doesn’t like.

    2) As a civil libertarian, I’m in favor of protecting ALL of our civil liberties–not just the ones I’m particularly partial to. Personally, I don’t necessarily approve of people owning asault weapons. Nor do I necessarily approve of people snorting cocaine. Nor do I necessarily approve of people eating fast food every day. But why I “approve of” is entirely beside the point, because neither you nor I have the right to dictate to others how they are to live their lives, nor is it our right to have the government enact laws on our behalf that would punish people from commiting these victimless crimes.

    And as far as having a loaded gun on school grounds, I think most people would concede that school districts are permitted to set certain rules regarding their own property. We’re not allowed to walk into the state capitol carrying loaded guns, so I don’t necessarily see any conflict with not allowing people to walk onto school property with loaded guns. We don’t need federal gun control laws to prevent such things from happening.

    The way I see it, people have the right to have whatever type of guns they want whether loaded or unloaded on their own private property or on the private property of others who have granted them this permission. As far as setting rules about bringing guns onto public property, this is something that should be left to individual state and local governments.

    I believe it was Howard Dean, of all people, who suggested that gun laws that have been enacted in large cities are not neceesarily appropriate in places like rural Vermont. At the very least, there’s no reason that the federal government needs to enforce gun control laws that could otherwise be left to state and local governments.

  • Michael:

    Other jurists have spoken more intelligently to your point than Antonin Scalia, who in my humble view is the judicial version of a fruitcake.

    What that the world has really not changed in significant ways since 1773.

  • “there is enough wiggle room for both points of view.”

    There is enough wiggle room, because some judges believe that the government should do certain things, and then try to to interprete the Constitution in such a way that what they want the government to do, can be done.

    Kim, I studied law, lest you forget, there is always wiggle room is one is dedicated to find it and especially if / when judges are appointed by politicians for political reasons.

  • kritter

    New York’s tough gun-control laws are a big reason that the Big Apple has gone from being a crime-ridden urban wasteland in the 1980s to a remarkably safe place with one of the lowest big-city murder rates, and Giuliani can take major responsibility for that happening because he tirelessly crusaded for gun control during his two terms as mayor from 1994-2001.

    You nailed it Shaun. Giuliani would never have gotten the tough reputation that he has today for cleaning up NYC if he hadn’t favored strict gun control. As a former prosecutor, he was very closely alligned with law enforcement, who almost always favors gun control, as it makes ensuring public safety so much easier. Rudi did the right thing at the right time for NYC, and for going against the prevailing gospel of the NRA and the RNC at the time of his decision, he has my respect. Since Giuli is running on his tough guy rep, I doubt his candidacy would have made it this far if he didn’t have this achievement to point to.

  • Nick, well said.

  • Nothing has been nailed here.

    Quite interesting to see that progressives cry foul when, in their opinion, Bush demands too much power, but that the situation changes when the government is demanding more power for purposes they, progressives, agree with.

  • But this has been a political football in this country, MvdG. And the NRA is about as powerful an interest group as we have here-taking down political candidates that don’t agree with its stands by any means necessary.

    kritter,

    The fact that the NRA is powerful interest group doesn’t necessarily make it wrong on the underlying issue. NOW and NARAL are both powerful interest groups, but that doesn’t mean that being pro-choice on abortion is wrong.

    The problem the NRA has is the same problem that the ACLU has. Both are civil liberty organizations who are right in theory but are not willing to take consistent positions on civil liberties across the board. The NRA fights for gun rights but is largely silent on many other civil liberties. Similarly, the ACLU fights for freedom of speech and unnecessary intrusion by the government into people’s privacy but is largely silent on gun rights.

  • kritter

    Nic- I agree with Howard Dean, that gun laws enacted for rural Vermont would be unsuitable in NYC. But do you then oppose recent efforts by the GOP to overturn DC’s gun ban? It isn’t so much a person’s right to own guns, but the complete opposition to regulation which is fostered upon us by Conservative politicians who are funded by the gun lobby.

  • The second amendment is quite clear that the right to bear arms is for an organized militia- i.e.- if you have registered for the draft you can carry a gun. Period. This wd mean women, however cannaot. Gun control is a bad idea.

    I’m a native NYer on the move, and Rudy’s a hypocrite, but on far more than guns. Look at the fortune he made investing in apartheid era South Africa!

  • “It isn’t so much a person’s right to own guns, but the complete opposition to regulation”

    Yes, that damned Constitution!

    the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Man, were the founding fathers wrong on that one! They should have worded it a bit differntly, shouldn’t they?

    Amend the constitution Kim

  • Quite interesting to see that progressives cry foul when, in their opinion, Bush demands too much power, but that the situation changes when the government is demanding more power for purposes they, progressives, agree with.

    Michael,

    It’s a common theme in American politics among both conservatives and progressives–Freedom for me but not for thee.

    That’s why I tend to vote Libertarian. Libertarians tend to be a little “out there” on certain issues, but at least their willing to take a consistent stand in favor of freedom without regard to whether the freedom might be regarded by some as “too liberal” or “too conservative.”

  • nicrivera

    The second amendment is quite clear that the right to bear arms is for an organized militia- i.e.- if you have registered for the draft you can carry a gun. Period.

    Cosmo,

    You’re killing me! Have mercy!

    The second amendment is NOT a collective right! It’s an individual right! The dependent clause that precedes the independent clause the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed was not intended by the Founding Fathers to limit the right to bear arms, but rather, to justify it.

    For everyone else who believes that the second amendment only apples to militias, I have to ask you: Why would the Founding Fathers draft a Bill of Rights, and in the midst of amendments protecting individual rights, insert a single amendment that only protects collective rights?

    It makes no sense. We don’t have a collective right to free speech–we have an individual right to free speech. We don’t have a collective right against search and seizure without a warrant–we have an individual right against search and seizure without a warrant.

    The Federalist Papers makes it pretty clear that the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to protect individual rights–not collective rights. And unless you’re choosing to apply a different standard for the second amendment that you do the rest of the Bill of Rights, the second amendment is an individual right.

  • kritter

    Quite interesting to see that progressives cry foul when, in their opinion, Bush demands too much power, but that the situation changes when the government is demanding more power for purposes they, progressives, agree with.

    I don’t mind the government using its power to properly regulate against systemic abuses, as it was intended to do- it is after all in essence a regulatory body. Its when the executive who has been handed that power abuses it right and left and co-opts what is supposed to be a separate body set up by the Constitution, that I mind. You can be in favor of constitutionally mandated checks and balances on governmental power and still want regulation
    of gun ownership, MvdG. If there’s to be no infringement, why not let 6 year olds have guns? Or felons? Its their constitutional right, no?

    I must say, now that you mentioned it, Bush has perverted DOJ to the point where I don’t feel safe from my own government. That is quite a feat, because whether or not there was a Democrat or a Republican in office, I never feared the actions of my own government before.

  • kritter

    You know, I’ve been thinking- since we have this unlimited guaranteed right in the Constitution to keep and bear arms—-and they don’t say what kind or how many- why stop at guns— couldn’t arms mean WMD’s??? I think you conservatives or libertarians or moderate liberal conservatives or whatever need to insist on your constitutional rights! What better way to ward off robbers or dogs leaving crap in your yard or the neighborhood Islamofascist????:)

  • kritter

    nic- I’m not exactly crazy about the amount of influence that NARAL has over the Democrats, either. I’m one of those who think that as a whole, there are too many lobbyists in DC, and those lobbyists have more pull than the average person could ever hope to. Legislators have to fundraise 24/7 to get re-elected and that has led to a lot of undue influence being exerted by interest groups.

  • I think you give Rudy too little anti-Second Amendment credit. If you look at what Bloomberg is doing with Rudy’s legacy, you may appreciate how much of a sham Rudy’s lip service to the Second Amendment actually is. Don’t sweat it, Rudy’s in full support of gun control, and probably much more.

  • domajot

    One thing is clear. The second amendment is the least clear section of the Constitution. For those of you bringing up original intent of the Founding Fathers, a look at the times would be in order. At the time, there was resistance to having a federal army, for fear that the government could use it to suppress the people. (the English experience was still fresh on everyone’s mind). The amendment was meant to enable a military force (militias) while avoiding federal ‘ownership’ of it.

    Times have changed.
    And honorable people will have different ideas on how the ‘then’ should apply to ‘now’.

    But, when all the arguments are over, we are not talking about making gun ownership illegal. It’s a question of regulating and licensing.
    Where does it say in the Constitution that your car needs a license?
    Where does it say that alcohol sales should be regulated?

    Ease up, gun toting folks.
    A little common sense is in order. If you don’t want your neighbor to have a fully armed tank in his backyard, guns trained at your house, I think you will agree that some rules are needed.

    We only need to negotiate the terms of regulation.

  • kritter

    Nothing has been nailed here.

    Why because you went to law school? Give me a break, Mvdg

  • Where does it say in the Constitution that your car needs a license?

    Nowhere. That’s why this power is left to the individual states. We don’t have federal laws requiring cars to be licensed. We have state laws requiring cars to be licensed.

  • domajot

    Nic-
    This fascination with states’ rights has become a knee jerk reaction to all sorts of issues. There has always been and will always be a tension between the states and the federal government, and rightly so.
    For the civil rights movement, you’ll remember, states’ rights didn’t work out so well. Would it be better today, if the states had prevailed?
    You have to be realistic
    and address each issue in turn, not resort to these blanket one-size-fits-all situations approach.
    In the case of gun regulation. in these days of fast cars and faster planes, one state’s laws can undermine another’s. So, some coordination would work better than none.
    When taxes on cigarettes vary widely, for example, a black market, with mafia help, sprang up to buy cigarettes in the South and peddle them in the North. Many states then started to regulate how many cartons can be bought at one time; states recognized that what they do afftects other states.
    When one state has lax gun laws, it triggers criminal activity in transporting the guns to states with strict gun control laws.

    In general, I think it’s very counterproductive to address problems from the top down:
    government programs are always better than contracting out, or
    states rights always trump federal law.
    You have to come out of the ideological clouds and look at what would work better in each case.
    Historically, sometimes one side gets the upper hand, and sometimes the other. And that’s the way it should be.

  • In the case of gun regulation. in these days of fast cars and faster planes, one state’s laws can undermine another’s. So, some coordination would work better than none.

    Change the Constitution. I might be all with you on the issue of weapons in general but… change the Constitution. “It’s needed” is not a good reason to interprete the Constitution as broad, as creative as possible to suit your purposes.

    Kim: if you consider it to be not clear enough, and / or times changed and their are more weapons that can have a bigger impact… great – change the Constitution.

  • Michael:

    The Constitution has withstood the test of time. That is why there have been so few amendments and most recent amendments have been technical in nature. That also is why recent efforts to change the Constitution — all highly agenda-driven issues like flag burning, same-sex marriage and English as official language — have crashed and burned.

    Please explain all of the ways in which you think that this remarkably durable document should be changed and why.

  • domajot

    Michael,
    It sounds to me like your pulling a Bushie: it’s my way or the highway. What you really want is to change the Constitution to reflect your views, no?
    How about if we do what this country has always done: debate, sulk and adjust.
    This has gone to the Supreme Court only once, and that some time ago, but we’ve managed to survive.
    There are reasonable ways to manage this. It just takes acceptance that it has to settled by how things work out in real life, not by an ideological preference for states’ rights in every situation. Just like individuals in a community have to bend a little to accomodate the other residents, states have to bend a little to accomodate the fact that they affect other states.

  • DLS

    The assault weapons ban is wrong.

    It was said:

    > Change the Constitution.

    Absolutely correct. Don’t you leftists lie on here and claim the Constitution means just what you want it to mean, and don’t you continue to engage in illegtimate judicial activism to get a judge to say it means what you want it to mean. Amend it the legitimate way if you want it to be changed.

  • Entropy

    Shaun,

    Anti-gun advocates don’t want to change the constitution because they know that will likely crash and burn as well. But that doesn’t matter, because reinterpreting the Constitution in order to avoid the difficult process of changing does not serve anyone’s interests. If the Constitution is so mutable that “Congress shall make no law…” can be interpreted as “Congress can make a law in some cases” then what is the point of having a Constitution. What other sections of it shall we similarly interpret to match popular political views?

    The second amendment could not be more clear. The Congress shall make no law. The implication, of course, is that States can make any law they wish, and they have done so to varying degrees. I cannot think of a more clear-cut example of a matter that was clearly intended to reside with States.

    And this is not a liberal or conservative issue. Both sides elevate their important causes to the federal level so they can be enforced nationwide. I don’t consider the 2nd amendment to be a conservative issue though, because the intent is so clear. Liberals have been more successful in getting their issues “federalized” though.

    If you don’t like it, change the Constitution. If we continue down the path we’re on, our great founding document will be lawyered into meaninglessness.

  • Entropy:

    Just so I’m clear, I don’t want to change the Constitution. (The only proposed change that I have supported was the star-crossed Equal Rights Amendment.) I do hope that Michael responds to my/our challenge with a list of ways that he would like to change the Constitution and why.

    You are quite right that federal vs. states rights is not a liberal or conservative issue per se.

    That said, there are instances where the greater need should override the state need and I believe that severe restrictions on assault weapons is a pungent example.

    There also are instances where the state need should override the federal need and I believe that allowing the use of medical marijuana is a pungent example.

  • This fascination with states’ rights has become a knee jerk reaction to all sorts of issues. There has always been and will always be a tension between the states and the federal government, and rightly so.

    Domajot,

    First of all, I’m not a big proponent of the term “states’ rights” because in my opinion, states don’t have rights–people do. What you are refering to is the concept of federalism, which is embodied by the tenth amendment to the Constitution:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    I’m not always happy with the results of federalism myself, but the tenth amendment says what it says, frankly, if you have a problem with federalism, then you have a problem with the Constitution.

    Secondly, I mentioned federalism (or “states’ rights”) as the proper way to deal with laws concerning licensing of cars/drivers. It’s funny how no one here has challenged the idea that cars/drivers should licensed by the individual states, and yet they defend federal gun control laws. What’s so bizarre about this is that, unlike driving a car, which is not protected as a right under the Constitution, gun rights are specifically protected under the Constitution. So if anything, there is even a stronger Constitutional argument to be made against federal gun laws than against laws regarding licensing of cars/drivers. And yet we have federal laws for the former but not the latter. It makes no sense.

    The Constitution is the highest law of the land (or at least it used to be). The second amendment means what it says–not what you want it to be. Sorry to have to side with the gun nuts on this one, but if you don’t agree with what the Constitution says, you and those who agree with you should work towards amending it and not simply ingoring it.

  • Entropy

    Shaun,

    Just so I’m clear, I don’t want to change the Constitution.

    You don’t want to change the Constitution, but you want federal restrictions on firearms. Those two are incompatible – that’s the point Michael and I have been making. If you support restrictions on firearm ownership at the Federal level, then you need to change the Constitution.

    Furthermore, you keep talking about so-called “assault weapons.” I’ve asked you a couple of times now to define what that is in specific terms. I’ve also pointed out that DoJ statistics show the vast majority of gun violence comes from handguns, not rifles or other “assault” style weapons. I also asked you do define what an “especially lethal weapon” is.

  • domajot

    States’ rights, individual rights, dog and cat rights.

    No one has absolute rights! In a rational world, we have to deal with the areas where an individual’s rights impact on other individuals and one state’s rights impact on another’s. We can, I think, just get along, if we deal less in theories and deal more in studying how all these rights conflict and combine in real life.

    I suspect that a lot of our bitter partisanship comes from insisting on ideologies and theories instead of focusing on what’s happening in the areas where we interact and figuring out how to accomodate as many rights as possible while doing as little damage as possible to other rights.

    Insisting on one absolute will guarantee that you will be stepping on the toes of another absolute.

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