Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's been a long month

Or, at least that's what it seems like in Chicago.

The above-referenced story (you're looking for the third of four) is difficult because it provides no attribution at all - no sources cited, something that NJ Lawyer is usually much better about, and a couple of very odd ideas thrown in for the kicks.

First odd idea, courtesy of the City of Chicago: "Four Chicagoans, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association are all suing Chicago to overturn its gun-control regime, and Chicago's principal defense seems to be that Heller is such a narrow decision that it applies only to the District of Columbia."

Emphasis mine, and boy howdy... I'm no lawyer but it seems quite a stretch to say that the Court is applying the Second Amendment only to DC. It seems like an amazing mental contortion to say that the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States of America has a provision that confines itself specifically to a 68.3 mi² hunk of ground.

There is exactly one provision in all of the US Constitution that applies only to Washington DC: Article 1, Section 8, listing the powers of Congress: "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States..."* Nope, it says nothing at all about the Supreme Court there.

The city may be correct in that this decision only specifically overturned one law as unconstitutional - but the principle by which that law was overturned is something that applies nationally and that can be used to challenge similar provisions.

And as an aside - "gun-control regime" is a peculiar way to put it. These litigants are suing to overturn a law, not kick out the mayor and aldermen. I find it a little disturbing, actually, to think that people who obsess over the precision of their words could be so slovenly with this description.

Second odd bit comes in near the end. I'm including something from way up near the top to give the context: "Based on past experience, [Chicago's gun buy-back program] had estimated this year's effort would rake in more than 14,000 weapons - but that was before the Heller decision put its laws into question. ... . In this post-Heller world, the gun buy-back this year netted only 6,800 weapons."

"Post-Heller world"? I'm going to sound kook-ish here, but that whole phrase looks wrong to me in this context - as if Heller has been around for five years and we're studying its impact with the benefit of some hindsight and reflection. Heller was decided five weeks ago. And then there's "netted only 6800 weapons this year." The year has five full months to go! OK, they're behind their expected pace, and I agree that Heller is a big reason. It just sounds like they're moving to this overarching conclusion - like nobody is going to turn in another gun for the rest of the year; or that they snuck in some subtle editorializing instead of just saying "in the wake of the Heller decision, the city has bought back only 6800 weapons so far this year." Does it sound off to anyone else or am I a little too touchy?

*Given the area, it's obvious that ten miles square means ten miles on each side. And it turns out that Congress punted on some of the everyday work in 1973, passing a law to give Washington DC a mayor and city council.

(I found this article about the case, written about a month ago. My apologies for the lack of timely bloggage, but I didn't hear about it until the NJL sent me an email alert. And if you really want some fun, read that for all the arguments against and in favor of the restrictions. The summary:

Against ban - "People can defend themselves better."
For ban - "It's scary, it'll be like the Wild West, it's frightening that America loves guns."

That isn't an exaggeration, either.)

No comments: