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Opening Arguments

The big gundown

Texas gun enthusiasts -- but I repeat myself -- might be dismayed by Gov. Rick Perry's apparent acceptance of state-level gun control:

When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know this will make our country safer, I don’t agree with that. I think most people in Texas don’t agree with that, and that is a state by state issue frankly that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C. to centralize the decision making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens and the people of Florida and Texas. That’s for the people of these states to decide.

What he's actually saying, though, is that states should be able to ban guns if they want to, but he doesn't think it would be a good idea, which is consistent with some of his other statements about federal intrusions into state rights. Accepting federalism means accepting the idea that some states might take actions we disagree with. That's a tough row to hoe. Back in the early days of Roe v. Wade, a lot of opponents argued that abortion should be a state decision. Easy to do, since it was clear it was never going to be a state-level decision again and there was no prospect of state after state liberalising abortion law.

The issue is all but moot today. Whatever Perry thinks states should be able to do, the fact is that for the most part they have to follow the federal lead.