SCOTUS Hears Civil Rights Case
On Tuesday, March 2, 2010 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments on the case McDonald v. Chicago. The case originated from a lawsuit filed in regard to the outright ban of handguns within the City of Chicago. The historical value of the case is that it is the next critical step following the Heller decision that will hopefully incorporate the Second Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment.
In short, the incorporation process is what officially applies the enumerated rights in our Bill of Rights at the state and local levels. This process protects citizens from state and local governments that seek to restrict our civil rights. It is important to understand that any argument against incorporation is actually an attempt to block the courts from protecting your civil rights.
The Heller decision and now the McDonald case have brought to the national scene a fairly new twist on the Second Amendment debate. For decades the disputes across the country have always been framed as “anti-gun” or “pro-gun”. Proudly we can say that has not been the case here in Massachusetts for some time.
For many years GOAL has been steadfast in our assertion that this was always a civil rights issue and that those who opposed our Second Amendment rights were indeed anti-civil rights not anti-gun (Although most of them hate guns as well). The two historical cases that the world is now talking about have slowly started to shift the national discussions from so-called “gun rights” to civil rights. Once again, GOAL and our members were well ahead of the curve on this.
Conversations about these cases are now surrounded by terms like incorporation, jurisprudence, strict scrutiny and alike. Conspicuous by their absence in discussions about these cases are the tired terms of assault weapons, high capacity weapons, cop killer bullets and so forth. Even in the oral arguments of the McDonald case the court suggested they were not interested in the old tired arguments of so-called “gun control”.
In discussing whether statistics of gun crimes should be entered into matters of ruling on civil rights, Justice Scalia said: “There is a lot of statistical disagreement on whether the Miranda rule saves lives or not, whether it results in the release of dangerous people who have confessed to their crime but the confession can't be used. We don't -- we don't resolve questions like that on the basis of statistics, do we?” Meaning, matters regarding criminal actions should not be entered into discussions regarding the civil rights of those who are not committing crimes.
Why the major shift in terminology? Actually, the shift was inevitable once the truth was exposed. Anyone who has carefully studied the matter always knew that it was always about civil rights. It is for this very reason that our adversaries always strove to be the ones to frame the argument. They knew that if they were able to successfully keep the argument around things rather than rights, they would be able to keep a certain sector of society afraid and willing to vote their way.
Likewise, they had to have known that if and when the debate turned to civil rights that they would be harshly looked upon by all of society for what they had done. Groups that are constantly fighting to destroy our civil rights are simply not prepared to enter into this new discussion and that is why they are feverishly trying to prevent the incorporation of the Second Amendment.
Our opposition has placed all of their hopes on the fact that the general public and our legislators would never separate the actions of criminals and the civil rights of lawful citizens in the discussion around the Second Amendment. Because if that ever happened, their arguments would come crashing down.
Proudly here in Massachusetts, GOAL and our members have led the way in this new discussion. Even before Heller was decided in 2008, GOAL was already drafting a piece of legislation the likes of which had never been attempted anywhere in the nation. Since January of 2009, GOAL has been giving seminars across the state on our groundbreaking legislation H.2259, the Civil Rights and Public Safety Act. (Information can be found at www.MassGunLawReform.com)
Our legislation begins the process of leading the logical progression reflected in the new discussions by separating the laws regarding gun ownership. It does so by creating a separate set of laws regarding civil rights/lawful ownership and a set of laws regarding criminal enforcement.
While no one should ever try to predict what SCOTUS will do with any given case or the legislature will do with legislation, one thing is sure. The discussions around the Second Amendment are beginning to go where they always should have. Where we always knew they belonged. While we can’t predict with certainty what the future will bring for us, we can be assured of another thing that history has taught us. If civil rights are the matter of discussion, freedom shall eventually always prevail!
McDonald v. Chicago oral arguments transcript: