Open Season on Everybody Is About to Begin

The Supreme Court is about to hear a case that could overturn many state gun control laws and limit the ability of state and local governments to limit firearm carrying in public.

As it says at Vox, this case could make the NRA’s dreams come true.

The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett.  As Ian Milhauser at Vox says, “The case involves New York state’s handgun licensing law — a law that has been in place since 1913 — which requires someone who wishes to carry a handgun in public to demonstrate “proper cause” in order to obtain a license permitting them to do so.” There are several kinds of gun permits in New York. If you have a job that requires you to carry large amounts of money and jewels you can get a permit to carry a handgun while on the job, for example. But a permit to carry a firearm in public for no specific reason other than hypothetical self-defense doesn’t rise to the level of “proper cause.”

The plaintiffs in Corlett applied for a permit to carry a gun in public and were denied. They argue that the Second Amendment gives them such a right that the state cannot deny. And the concern, of course, is that the current Supreme Court is right-wing crazy enough to agree with them.

What this would mean is that state permit laws would evaporate overnight. It would be open season on humans in the U.S.

Ian Milhauser provides a brief history of Second Amendment case law, much of which you probably know. Until 2008 the Court took the first thirteen words of the amendment — “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” — very seriously, and determined that the Second needed to be understood not as an individual right but as a provision that allowed for an armed militia.

This makes more sense when you understand that the militia originally organized by Congress in the 1790s was self-armed. The second Militia Act of 1792 provided that every citizen enrolled in a state militia “shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service…” The cost of this was born by the individual.

Obviously, if the federal government put limitations on firearm ownership it would interfere with militia service, which was mandatory for able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 45. You might wonder why the federal government would do that. Well, here is the answer — during the Constitutional Convention, the anti-federalists who were mostly slave-owning southerners were dragging their feet about ratification. In their states the militia was mainly used to keep enslaved persons under control. (Before the Constitution was ratified, militias were entirely under state control, but the Constitution in Article I, Section 8, paragraphs 15 and 16 said that militias were to be organized by the U.S. Congress.) The Second Amendment was worded as it was to mollify the slave-owners, who feared that some day the federal government would disarm their slave-controlling militias.

It wasn’t until the 2008 decision District of Columbia v. Heller that the Court called arms-bearing an “individual right.” Then in 2010 the Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second’s limitations on federal power also applied to states.

Now the Court has a big, fat opportunity to determine that state and local governments must allow citizens to carry firearms in public. And I bet they will do it.

The result of this will be that no matter how you and your neighbors feel about it, these people can march through your neighborhood whenever they like. The citizens of your community will have nothing to say about it.

Gun rights advocates march in Richmond, January 2020.

The other result will be carnage. The Giffords Center has a page of data and charts showing the correlation between firearm deaths and “gun law strength ranking,” The Harvard School of Public Health also has published considerable research showing that more guns = more homicides. Allowing citizens to carry firearms everywhere “for safety” means we’re all less safe.

So about the time we can all stop wearing masks we’ll need to start wearing bullet-proof vests. Way to go, America.

12 thoughts on “Open Season on Everybody Is About to Begin

  1. Until 2008 the Court took the first thirteen words of the amendment — “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” — very seriously…

    Interesting, and telling, how the "strict constructionists" on the court who claim the Constitution must be read literally, refuse to do so when it comes to guns.  No reasonable person can read those words, let alone weigh for context the reasons for the amendment at the time, and determine the 2nd amendment meant everyone has a right to carry a gun, with no restrictions.  

    How this adds value to our society escapes me. Cops will continue to coddle white people "exercising their second amendment rights" in public, while with the legal prevalence of more guns in public, shoot down even more black and brown people who carry anything they may think looks like a gun, like Isaiah Brown, who was on the phone with 911 when he was shot, because the deputy "thought the phone was a gun."

    The right is always whining about "wokeness."  I'm worried about their "greatness" which is turning this nation into a hellscape of an insane asylum.  

  2. Listen, not to talk down to you, Cletus, but if you, say, accidentally or on purpose, discharge – YOUR GUN, CLETUS! – your gun out in the country, what's the worst that can happen if you miss?

    What? You ding the dinner bell? Wing grandma's skivvies on the line? Kill the bull?

    OK.  Tell everyone dinner's about to be served, because the bull put a hole in grandma's skivvies, so you shot him dead!  Oh, and how do you want your steak?

    Well here in the big, bad city, Cletus – BOOGA-BOOGA!!! – see, we live on top of, under, and next to people.  There's no fields.  Just walls and people – AND pets, of course!  So if I shoot my gun inside, and I miss my target, I'm liable to kill some innocent neighbor.

    We don't want guns in cities because we don't need guns in cities!

    We have no wolves or coyotes (neither the 2, nor the 4 legged ones). 

    No one else should have a gun in the city, so, with no natural predators around – except for the 2-legged, armed kind: kinda like YOU! – we don't have any need to haul one around.

    S you wanna have your gun?  NO CITY FOR YOU!!! 

    But if you don't have your gun? WELCOME!!!

  3. I'm just a layman without any real expertise in understanding mental illness, but when I look at that picture above of "Hawkeye" I feel confident in saying something ain't right in that boy's head. I don't know what his issue is, but common sense and self preservation tells me give him a wide berth.

    Rittenhouse syndrome?

  4. We're gonna get back into "pack the court" territory pretty soon.  Gun slaughter will continue to rise and despite the public support for sane gun laws, the right wing will prevail. 

    Next up is reproductive rights. States will be allowed to ban abortion and women's rights will be similarly reduced. Bottom line – the usual expectation that the law will change slowly under the Supreme Court policy of upholding existing law will get ripped wide open. So will the opposition to packing the court. Not this year. Not next year, but 2023.

    • Before we can pack the Court, we need to pack the Congress.

      We must vote in the same numbers that we did in 2020, to throw out enough members of the GQP that we can actually get stuff done.

      • Indeed.  The goal should be expanding the democratic advantage in the Senate enough to, at a minimum, neutralize the  destructive, narcissistic stylings of Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema.

  5. I hate that this might happen.  But what I also hate is that it did not have to happen. 

    Ever since 2000 there have been warnings about how important the SC is–and yet I had to hear the retort about how concerns about the SC were a "Democrat scare tactic".  I didn't hear that from right-wingers; I heard it from quite a few progressives.

    In 2016 then-candidate Hillary Clinton warned about how important the SC was and how Trump could appoint up to three Justices.  We were going through McConnell's "Up yours" nonsense with Merrick Garland, Obama's pick for the SC.  And yet, Hillary still got the nonsense retort about how concerns for the SC were "Democrat scare tactics" especially from people who then went on to proudly declare how they would write in Sanders or just pull the lever for Jill Stein or Johnson.

    And now, here we are.  A Supreme Court that is certainly not representative of the people, with at five Justices chosen by Presidents who lost the popular vote but won their elections by questionable means (and one who also was a traitor to the US), making decisions that will affect us all.  And the only way to blunt it is to expand the Court, because these are lifetime appointments (they cannot be fired or "voted out"–yes, someone actually spewed that out while declaring that the Court wasn't their concern). 

    As Ivory Bill Woodpecker said, the only way to make sure we can pack the Court is if we pack Congress.  Our best chance is next year.  Now, are we going to step up and work our asses off, or are we just going to moan and groan about how both parties suck (not that the second happens here)?  Because doing the first WILL make sure that we can get more Dems into Congress, especially the Senate.

    Rant mode off.

  6. But freedom! And greatness! And scary black people! And brown people! And Asians! And immigrants! And European socialists! And rainbows! What if they all get together and try to make me think! Only my gun can prevent it!

  7. This is why Heller is so dangerous – declare a private right, and it doesn't matter how much you qualify it.

  8. Until recently, the Federalist Society could be trusted to provide Judges who would protect us from the craziest parts of the GOP's touted agenda (Guns, subjugation of women, Creationism, White Supremacy, etc) – the social/cultural "policies" (propaganda, really) that the GOP used to turn the South red.

    Of course, the Federalists' (and the GOP's) highest priority has always been protecting the [profits of the] Big Corps & Billionaires who paid their very comfortable salaries.  But they were once a bastion of the old WASPy GOP, with enough libertarian and realist tendencies to keep them from getting sucked into the Culture wars.

    But something has changed; what?  It can't just be Trump; he wouldn't really have any influence in the Federalist Society (they are Smart People).  They must have begun cultivating Culture War Conservatives for at least a decade, to have that many Judges ready in 2017.

    My best guesses?

    1) GOP Culture War policies since Reagan years alienated a lot of Wall Street & other FIRE sector donors.  This increased the influence of Western Extractive Sector (Oil/Gas/Mining/Ag) donors in the GOP.  They are generally more Evangelical, less urban/cosmopolitan/Europhilic, and less Ivy League than NYC Money; and their highest priority is to roll back regulations (Environmental, Safety, Labor, Accounting, etc) which cut into their profits.  These are the people who hate government, not realizing that means they hate the USA.

    2) Racist reaction to Obama as President.  Not sure how this would have played out inside the Federalist Society, but I'd guess that it was just another case of mass hysteria.  Like the rest of the GOP, they got slowly taken over by the crazy people & ideas they had previously used merely as propaganda?

    3) or maybe the Federalist Society has always been a Sleeper Cell of Confederates, just waiting to wreak vengeance on the Union.

  9.    Wisdom on firearms will not come from the SCOTUS or the U.S. Constitution.  The second amendment to the constitution is an ink blot in written form which individuals project about.  Ask some people to give the rights assured by the second amendment and you will get more information about how sane or insane they are than anything close to what the founding fathers might have had in mind.

    The SCOTUS has many ways to interpret the Constitution, and a conservative court has some really strange notions on way that needs to be done.  Consider originalism, just one of many paradigms of constitutional interpretation.  First let us look at one definition:

    Originalism is a theory of the interpretation of legal texts, including the text of the Constitution. Originalists believe that the constitutional text ought to be given the original public meaning that it would have had at the time that it became law.

    S. G. Calabresi from the Interactive Constitution.

    So a flintlock brain needs to be used  to judge semi-automatic  assault rifle.  Give me a break!  That does not even make horse sense.  Will they use a period dated Ouija Board?

  10. Last time gun control advanced it was because black people started exercising their right to bear arms. Reagan was governor of California.

    We need to encourage the black and brown communities to arm themselves and to open carry like the white folks do. Get ten thousand black men and women to march down Pennsylvania avenue armed to the teeth and the GOP will push for gun control the next day.

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