• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

My, how we do carry on

Yeah, this is a gun I have here. You gotta a problem with that? Say hello to my liitle friend, which I call the Second Amendment:

Indeed, as Texas is set to become the largest state to allow open carry, the evolution of the practice encompasses not just gun rights, but shifting notions around self-defense and even growing insecurities for many blue-collar, white men in America, some of whom see gun carry as central to “duty, relevance, even dignity,” as Jennifer Carlson, a gun rights scholar, writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Yes, gun owners can do this, and maybe it does some good by raising awareness that this is the law,” says Brian Anse Patrick, a University of Toledo communications professor and author of the upcoming book “PropaGUNda.” “But there’s still this funny area around etiquette and frightening people” that draws a line between “Second Amendment ambassadors and Second Amendment exhibitionists.”

Today, even as gun-free zones are shrinking, many gun owners maintain a strong sense that gains made on Second Amendment rights could be quickly lost. In that way, many open-carry advocates, especially, are attempting to make gun-carry policy politically palatable by changing what Americans think of as normal, à la gay marriage laws and legal marijuana.

“This is what lefties have done for decades, and it works,” writes University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds on his “Instapundit” blog.

I have mixed feelings about this. If open carry is legal and constitutional, then by all means anybody who wants to can. But the Supreme Court is increasingly gun friendly and in a couple of recent cases has made made it pretty clear that the right to bear arms is an individual one, not a group thing. We've won, for God's sake! Why freak people out and maybe risk a lot of support we've been getting from the squishy middle-of-the-roaders just to prove a point? Why reinforce the sterotype of the gun owner as unstable, paranoid and just donright rude? You think your kid's friend's parents are OK with you totin' that AR-15 to the Little League game? Reynolds is right that the left has been successful by changing what Americans think of as normal, but there is a price to that tactic, too. If you don't think there's  epic resentment building up over the gay-marriage bullying, you're just not paying attention.

Yeah, right, we've won. But maybe we shouldn't take that victory lap just yet.
Raising significant new questions about how much protection the Constitution’s Second Amendment actually gives to gun owners, the Supreme Court on Monday left intact a local ordinance that restricts access to guns even within one’s own home.   The denial of review drew a fervent dissent from two Justices, who argued that the Court is narrowing the amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms.”
[. . .]

The refusal to review the case of Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco was the latest in a string of such orders, declining to clarify the personal right to have a gun, first established seven years ago and extended nationwide five years ago, but not explained further in the years since.  Once again, as is its custom, the Court did not explain why it was choosing to remain on the sidelines.

In the 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court had ruled that the right created by the Second Amendment included a right to have a gun for one’s own use in self-defense, at least within the home, and with such a weapon in a condition allowing it to be quickly used.  That is the right that the Court said applied all across the country, in the 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago.   But McDonald marked the last time the Court had spoken on the amendment’ s reach.

Much of the uncertainty that has spread to courts across the country has involved the core question whether the personal right extends anywhere beyond the home.  That has been the issue that the Justices have most often declined to sort out.  The San Francisco case, however, sought to bring the Court back inside the home, to determine how far government could go to regulate access to a weapon there.

Under the city-county ordinance at issue, a handgun in the home could be carried on the body of the person, but otherwise had to be stored in a locked container or else disabled with a trigger lock.  The right to carry a handgun within the home was restricted to those over the age of eighteen.

Lower federal courts had upheld those restrictions, despite gun-owners’ claims that the ordinance directly contradicted the access that the Court supposedly had assured in the Heller decision.  The main rationale for upholding the ordinance was the need to prevent gun-related accidents within the home.

So maybe reminding folks that guns are around and that there is a right to carry them isn't such a bad idea. At least until the Supreme Court gets off its butt and does a little clarifying about what it really thinks of the "right to bear arms."

The Left takes to the streets at the drop of a hat in order to “demonstrate” on behalf of its various pet anti-American causes, and mayhem often ensues. Gun-rights people cannot afford mayhem, but if by carrying they assuage just one little lefty’s fears, then it will be worth it. Right, lefties? Isn’t this how you see the world?

Pushing the envelope of what's acceptable to the mainstream public, by the way, is called "moving the Overton window," highly recommended reading for those interested in how public issues are dealt with these days. It is a variation of the "door in the face" technique of persuasion. (The "foot in the door" technique involves getting the public used to a new idea in incremental steps. The ""door in the face" technique involves proposing something so outrageous that it nearly universally rejected, but prepares the public to accept your real idea, which is something more reasonable.)