Saturday, January 8, 2011

A pause to mourn

I'm sure we are all saddened by the events in Tucson Arizona today, in which 6 people were killed in a shooting that appears to have been an assassination attempt on Rep Giffords (D, AZ-8th), who is critically injured in hospital. Our hearts goes out to the victims and their loved ones.

And we should all pause to ask, seriously....what are we coming to?


JCF said...

I hope that any language of fire arms in political discourse (except SPECIFIC discussion of the 2nd Amendment---if then) will now be verboten by our civic gatekeepers. MSM: you don't ever HAVE to give those who speak of "2nd Amendment remedies" or "Don't retreat, reload" or "We came unarmed---this time" or who put crosshairs over their opponent, a podium.

[And speaking of real fire arms: KEEP THEM OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE KRAZY, please!!!! (For example: whatever prompted the *Army* to reject Mr Loughner, coulda been flagged to gun dealers. CNN has reported that Loughner's gun was sold to him legally. Argh.)]

Fred Schwartz said...

What have we come to? "The tide rolls in and the tide rolls out". That seems to be where we are now.

dr.primrose said...

From Gail Collins's column in today's N.Y, Times - A Right to Bear Glocks?:

"Today, the amazing thing about the reaction to the Giffords shooting is that virtually all the discussion about how to prevent a recurrence has been focusing on improving the tone of our political discourse. That would certainly be great. But you do not hear much about the fact that Jared Loughner came to Giffords’s sweet gathering with a semiautomatic weapon that he was able to buy legally because the law restricting their sale expired in 2004 and Congress did not have the guts to face up to the National Rifle Association and extend it.

"If Loughner had gone to the Safeway carrying a regular pistol, the kind most Americans think of when they think of the right to bear arms, Giffords would probably still have been shot and we would still be having that conversation about whether it was a sane idea to put her Congressional district in the cross hairs of a rifle on the Internet.

"But we might not have lost a federal judge, a 76-year-old church volunteer, two elderly women, Giffords’s 30-year-old constituent services director and a 9-year-old girl who had recently been elected to the student council at her school and went to the event because she wanted to see how democracy worked.

"Loughner’s gun, a 9-millimeter Glock, is extremely easy to fire over and over, and it can carry a 30-bullet clip. It is 'not suited for hunting or personal protection,' said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign. 'What it’s good for is killing and injuring a lot of people quickly.'

"America has a long, terrible history of political assassinations and attempts at political assassination. What we did not have until now is a history of attempted political assassination that took the lives of a large number of innocent bystanders. The difference is not about the Second Amendment. It’s about a technology the founding fathers could never have imagined."

JCF said...

The difference is not about the Second Amendment. It’s about a technology the founding fathers could never have imagined

I wonder how Justice "Founding Fathers' Intent" Scalia would respond to THAT one!

[Heh: even *I* might be able to get behind the idea that the 2nd Amendment applies to citizens being entitled to bear SOLELY a black-powder muzzle-loader! ;-/]

dr.primrose said...

I almost posted a diatribe about "original intent" when the Scalia piece was filed last week.

From a constituional theory point of view, it's idiotic -- that's not what consitutions do.

Even on its own terms, it has major problems. Whose intent is important here? Madison and Hamilton in The Federalist? Every member of the Constitutional Convention? Every member of every colonial assembly that had to approve the Constitution in order for it to become effective. Same problem for amendments -- every member of Congress? Every member of every state legislature that has to approve it before it goes into effect?

And then, once you decide whose "original intent" applies, how do you determine it? Much of the historical record is pretty sketchy. Every time the Court does a historical analysis, there's a raft of complaints from the professional historians that the Court doesn't know what it's doing.

It's also dishonest is at least two respects.

First, in construing statutes, Scalia strongly complains that legislative history -- what the legislature intended -- is irrelevant because the only thing that's important for determining intent is the words they used. But "original intent" is all about the underlying intent, not about the words used.

Second, as JCF noted (as have lots of other people), if you're going apply "original intent," you have to limit to exactly what the originial intenders intended. For the second amendment, that means muskets and not Glucks. For the first amendment, corporations can't have free speech rights (particuarly in the sense of making political contributions "speech") because corporations in their modern form simply did not exist in the late 1700s.

IT said...

Somehow, all the logic of that argument seems to be ignored by the COnstitutionalists, Dr Primrose. LIke the tea partiers who seem to have fundamental misunderstandings of the process of government.