Left Watch: Supreme Court gun ruling

It will be interesting to watch so many people play musical chairs over the next few years, reversing positions and principles to match their new preferences.  For instance, today's NYTimes Editorial on the Supreme Court decision on guns is quite difficult to align with their position on the detention issue

Even if there were a constitutional right to possess guns for nonmilitary uses, constitutional rights are not absolute. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but that does not mean that laws cannot prohibit some spoken words, like threats to commit imminent violent acts. 

The New York Times Editorial Board will be pleased to learn that the Second Amendment also guarantees the individual right to keep and bear guns, but that does not mean that laws cannot prohibit some uses of guns, like threats to commit imminent violent acts. 

But it gets worse.  In their criticism of the Supreme Court decision on gun rights, the New York Times cites Justice Scalia's recent opinion that public safety interests outweigh rights of habeus corpus...

In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer argued soundly that whatever right gun owners have to unimpeded gun use is outweighed by the District of Columbia’s “compelling” public-safety interests.  In this month’s case recognizing the habeas corpus rights of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Justice Scalia wrote in dissent that the decision “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” Those words apply with far more force to his opinion in this District of Columbia case.

...but just two weeks ago, the New York Times disagreed with Justice Scalia. 

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Of course (1) this presumes that more guns = more deaths, something many would disagree with and (2) more importantly, while Scalia's Boudemiene dissent is great, it doesn't rely on the "habeas = more deaths" analysis other than as a rhetorical flourish.

The other important aspect.

The other important aspect to this discussion is that Boumediene v. Bush dealt with the legal rights of aliens, whereas District of Columbia v. Heller dealt with the constitutional rights of American citizens. This is important, because in a recent Supreme Court case (Hamdi v. Rumsfeld) Justice Scalia arged that the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens are more important than considerations of public safety. In my reading of these NY Times excerpts, the false impression is given that Scalia is somehow being a judicial activist rather than a regular champion of constitutional liberty.  


It is possible the founding fathers knew that armed citizens would present some threat.  It is also possible they believed the benefit of an armed citizenry was worth it.

The people of the United States have become soft, and believe everything should be given to them.  Thats not how freedom works.  Thats how being a pet dog works.