Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why The Left Will Win On Guns

Well played Piers Morgan - the CNN host and gun control advocate. Inviting Alex Jones on his show will do more to advance Morgan's call for restrictions than interviews with the families of gun violence victims. Here is a segment of the Jones interview:

If Alex Jones becomes the face of the Second Amendment, gun control legislation that has been stalled in Congress for years will be heading for Obama's signature. Well played, Mr. Morgan. Well played.

Even before the Jones interview, the Left was headed of a victory on gun control simply because the Right in this country has become incapable of detecting changing attitudes, growing problems and proposing viable alternatives for voters to consider. As a consequence, the Left has been able to score one policy victory after another.

We saw it with health care. For years, health insurance premiums kept rising and rising cutting into the disposable incomes of middle class voters. Yet the Republican Party did very little to address the growing problem while in power. Eventually, the Democrats got control of Congress, the White House and implemented Obamacare.

The same will happen with immigration reform. President George W. Bush tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform and was stopped by fellow Republicans. In 2012, the GOP made a bet that Obama would not be re-elected and continued pushing the enforcement only approach to immigration and lost the bet. So the stage is set for the Democrats to once again see their policies implemented.

After the Newtown tragedy, Republicans made another losing bet that the public will soon forget the faces of the young victims. They believe they have history on their side. Other mass murders certainly have not resulted in any changes in gun laws.

But something is different about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The ground has shifted. It gave a lot of people pause and the country this time will not forget and accept the slaughter of 6 and 7 years old as some kind of sick price that must be paid for having the Second Amendment.

On the first day of the 113th Congress, ten bills were introduced addressing gun violence. Democrats have proposed legislation that will enhance background checks, ban high capacity magazines and stricter licensing requirements. Republicans introduced bills that will end the designation of schools as "gun free zones." Once again Democrats have put on the table solutions that can attract majority support while Republicans have marginalized themselves.

The Republicans will be further marginalized from the debate when it becomes clear that "gun free schools" legislation does not prevent armed individuals from being on school grounds. All the legislation does is give school districts the power to determine who can lawfully bring a gun on their property. So the Republican "solution" is really no solution at all.

This is no accident. Republicans have gotten into the bad habit of relying on the Supreme Court to bail them out of legislation they do not like but have no viable alternatives to propose in its place. We have seen this strategy at work before and it has only produced victories for the Left.

McCain-Feingold was supposed to be found unconstitutional. Obamacare was supposed to be found unconstitutional. What makes anyone think that the proposed bills by the Democrats will be found unconstitutional?

In the landmark case of Heller vs. the District of Columbia, Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority stated:
"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."
Measures that require all gun purchases to undergo background checks or stricter qualifications are clearly constitutional based on Scalia's statement. And a strong case can be made that high capacity magazines are "dangerous and unusual weapons" since they are designed to carry out mass killings. Not for hunting game. And the self-defense argument is tenuous at best unless one expects to be assailed by dozens of criminals all at once.

But if Scalia's words are not enough to make Republicans reassess their current strategy on relying on the Supreme Court, they should look up what Chief Justice John Roberts said in the Obamacare decision. He wrote:
"We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."
 and adopted the following standard in determining the constitutionality of statutes:
“every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality,”
Put the two statements together and it is clear that Chief Justice Roberts warned the legislative branch not to look to the Court for salvation. The only sure way Republicans can prevent Democrats from implementing their policies is by offering viable alternatives. Anything less will result in the Left racking up more victories.