Saturday, May 26, 2007

Strickland, Guns and the Urban Agenda [REVISED]

Columbuser asks out loud about Strickland's urban agenda. Cbuser is riffing off some snarky questions by a friend about vouchers and high gas prices being good for cities. You can read my take on vouchers and the urban poor here.

As for gas prices, I pretty much agree with another Columbuser post that the Dems' energy position is incoherent policy, but I also understand that people don't lose elections becasue they stand for cheaper energy. "Understand" in this case shouldn't be conflated with "am happy with."

But keeping an eye on Strickland's urban agenda isn't a bad idea. It was nice to see references to an urban development agenda in the Akron Doesn't Suck stories, but we haven't heard much before that. Sixteen years of Republican rule have equated to sixteen years of policies hostile to cities, and Strickland did not exactly go out of his way to reassure we urbanites that he understood how to address urban problems.

So I wonder if Gov. Strickland would veto H.B. 225.

Ted has made a point of being a Gun Guy. The reason the One-Winged Psycho-Demon Duckbeast from Hell rushed to dilute the concealed carry law last year was that they did not want Strickland to get the political juice for signing it as he promised he would. Instead they overrode Taft's veto to further distance the party from his failed governorship.

Strickland's promise to sign the bill shows that, unlike Taft, he would go favor the wishes of the gun nuts over those of the law enforcement associations. So it's an open question how bad an idea has to be before Strickland will break with Gunnutistan.

As reported in yesterday's ABJ, Ohio cities, along with everyone else, are seeing an uptick in gang violence. Among the pathologies accompanying the gangs is a proliferation of young men carrying powerful semiautomatic weapons and using them to settle minor beefs. These are the sort of people who don't apply for concealed carry permits, and concealed carry charges are a useful law enforcement tool

Time will tell whether it has any legs -- it's currently in a House committee that, among others, includes two Akron area Dems (Sykes and Dyer) and a moderate area Republican (Widowfield.) This is the same committee that so watered down the stripper bill that any sane observer would conclude that CCV got its clock cleaned. Clearly this committee has moved beyond doing the wishes of the far right.

It may well be that House 225 was introduced as a stalking horse to smoke out Strickland's veto threat and separate him from Gunnutistan. As long as it languishes in Committee Strickland should hold off.

But if Strickland is serious about preserving Ohio's cities, he should indeed veto this train wreck if it ever gets to him.

CORRECTION: The gun bill has been assigned to the Criminal Justice Committee. The stripper bill was in Judiciary.

10 comments:

Jason Sonenshein said...

I remember back in the 1990's when many states were beginning to liberalize their gun laws to allow licensed concealed carry. Anti-gun nuts were predicting all kinds of carnage and mayhem would result. It didn't. I don't see how liberalizing gun laws a little bit more would make the situation any worse.

"Among the pathologies accompanying the gangs is a proliferation of young men carrying powerful semiautomatic weapons and using them to settle minor beefs. These are the sort of people who don't apply for concealed carry permits, and concealed carry charges are a useful law enforcement tool"

H.B. 225 would allow unlicensed concealed carry only by those who would otherwise qualify for a concealed carry license. How many of the young men you so fear have records clean enough that they would qualify for concealed carry licenses if they applied for them?

Pho said...

First off, right back atcha. The claim on the concealed carry side was that crime would decrease because people would have guns and deter would-be criminals. Crime is now spiking all over the state.

One thing CC laws do is encourage gun culture. For all the attention that conservatives pay to culture, it's shocking how uncritically they embrace each escalation of concealed carry.

Second, this isn't liberalizing laws a little bit. This is removing all vestiges of regulation from the concealed carry law. It's a radical change and the onus should be on the advocates to demonstrate that the radical change would do no harm.

How many have clean records. I can think off the top of my head of two cases I prosecuted, each involving multiple defendants, in which guys with otherwise clean records were heading off to settle scores and picked up on concealed carry violations.

Plus, the effect of no-permit carry on stop-and-frisk situations is unclear. If it is no longer a crime to carry without a license and people who carry no longer have to inform police, do police now need to have probably cause to believe that a person is under disability before patting them down? How is that a good idea?

Honestly, if I need to have a license to drive my car, you should have a licence to carry a people killing machine under your jacket.

Jason Sonenshein said...

"Crime is now spiking all over the state."

And it might be even higher but for concealed carry. For data showing a modest decrease in crime accompanying the legalization of concealed carry, see pages 1 and 2 of Gun facts 4.1

"One thing CC laws do is encourage gun culture. For all the attention that conservatives pay to culture..."

That's why I'm a liberal. I oppose government control of the culture.

"...it's shocking how uncritically they embrace each escalation of concealed carry."

For all of the attention that my fellow liberals pay to civil liberties, it's shocking how uncritically many of them embrace gun control.

"This is removing all vestiges of regulation from the concealed carry law."

The only people who would be allowed to carry without licenses are those who already qualify for licenses. The just wouldn't be required to put their names on a government list or pay tribute to a county sheriff.

"It's a radical change and the onus should be on the advocates to demonstrate that the radical change would do no harm."

Vermont has allowed unlicensed concealed carry for quite some time. The last time I was in Vermont, it seemed quite safe and peaceful. Blood didn't run in the streets and the living didn't envy the dead. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, the violent crime rate in the United States in 2005 was 469.2 per 100,000. The violent crime rate in New England was 319.8 per 100,000. But in Vermont, it was only 119.7 per 100,000.

"I can think off the top of my head of two cases I prosecuted, each involving multiple defendants, in which guys with otherwise clean records were heading off to settle scores and picked up on concealed carry violations."

But not everyone who carries a concealed weapon is heading off to settle a score. To burden all carriers of concealed weapons because a few carriers of concealed weapons have malicious intent amounts to collective punishment, and collective punishment is immoral.

"...do police now need to have probably cause to believe that a person is under disability before patting them down?"

The standard for a Terry stop is reasonable suspicion, not probable cause. I don't see how HB 225 would change that. However, just because Terry stops aren't unconstitutional doesn't mean they're right. If HB 225 would make them more difficult, that's a feature, not a bug.

"Honestly, if I need to have a license to drive my car, you should have a licence to carry a people killing machine under your jacket."

First, according to the CDC, motor vehicles kill a lot more people in the United States than firearms do. Second, the right to bear arms is mentioned in the bills of rights of both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. neither bill of rights mentions the right to drive a car.

Pho said...

JS:

We could argue all night about crime statistics, but let's move on. OK, let me say that "Crime might have gone up more" is a nonargument and Vermont is not comparable to Ohio. NOW let's move on.

Your comment gets interesting where you talk about a right to hide a gun on your person and the "inconvenience" of getting a permit. If we reduce things to first principles, I believe that if it will save lives, it is OK to inconvenience people who wish carry a concealed firearm.

I get the impression that you don't. This is a "God comes down and tells you" argument. If God comes down and tells you that requiring permits would save X number of lives, would you say that permits are OK, or would you say that some dead people are an acceptable price to pay for the right to carry without a permit?

And if so, does it matter what X is?

The correlary to my position, btw, is that if God told me that we can scrap the permit system and it won't cost any lives, I'd be OK with that. This gun nut is all about people not being murdered.

Jason Sonenshein said...

"'Crime might have gone up more' is a nonargument..."

That's why I linked to a source that showed that a decrease in crime often follows the liberalization of concealed carry laws.

"...Vermont is not comparable to Ohio."

That's why I compared it to New England, of which Vermont is a part.

"Your comment gets interesting where you talk about a right to hide a gun on your person and the 'inconvenience' of getting a permit."

It's interesting that you put the word inconvenience in quotation marks. I never used it. If this really were just a matter of inconvenience, I wouldn't see much need for HB 225, but we're talking about invading people's privacy and forcing them to pay tribute in exchange for exercising a constitutional right.

"I get the impression that you don't."

Damn skippy!

"If God comes down and tells you that requiring permits would save X number of lives, would you say that permits are OK, or would you say that some dead people are an acceptable price to pay for the right to carry without a permit?"

No. Some things are just wrong. What if we could save a few lives by criminalizing hate speech, or requiring a license to practice religion, or scrapping the rights of criminal defendants? What if the forced relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II actually saved lives?

And I'd answer the same way if God told me that I would be one of those who would die. The constitution is more important than any person's life, including my own.

Pho said...

Jason:

Sorry for misquoting you and blowing past your cites. Child care and blogging don't mix.

As I suspected, there is an unbridgable gap between our positions. You see gun ownership as a fundamental right and I don't. I'm willing to put controls on gun ownership for the sake of saving lives and you don't.

If I may be so bold, you may want to think about how you present your case that this is a fundamental right. That's neither a majority position among citizens nor among legal scholars. I understand why free speech is a fundamental right. I don't understand how someone gets there about carrying a concealed weapon.

Pho said...

Jason:

Sorry for misquoting you and blowing past your cites. Child care and blogging don't mix.

As I suspected, there is an unbridgable gap between our positions. You see gun ownership as a fundamental right and I don't. I'm willing to put controls on gun ownership for the sake of saving lives and you don't.

If I may be so bold, you may want to think about how you present your case that this is a fundamental right. That's neither a majority position among citizens nor among legal scholars. I understand why free speech is a fundamental right. I don't understand how someone gets there about carrying a concealed weapon.

Jason Sonenshein said...

"Sorry for misquoting you and blowing past your cites."

That's OK. I'm sure I've made similar mistakes, and I don't have the excuse of having children for whom to care. I'm sorry I answered your question as if it were yes-no rather than either-or.

"If I may be so bold, you may want to think about how you present your case that this is a fundamental right. That's neither a majority position among citizens nor among legal scholars."

You're probably right that the position that the Second Amendment actually means what it says is a minority position. The same thing was true of the First Amendment for much of our nation's history. According to the ACLU, "The U.S. Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim when Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others formed the ACLU in 1920."

On page 58 of Gun Facts 4.1, Guy Smith refutes the collective rights view of the Second Amendment:

"Justification clause: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, "
Rights clause: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
The justification clause does not modify, restrict, or deny the rights clause.
"

David Kopel of the Independence Institute has more.

"I'm willing to put controls on gun ownership for the sake of saving lives"

What other parts of the Bill of Rights would it be OK to ignore in order to save a few lives? What if we could save a few lives by allowing double jeopardy in cases where violent criminals get off even though everyone knows they're guilty? What if we could save a few lives by requiring mosques to conduct their religious services in English to make them easier to monitor? What if we could save a few lives by lowering the standard for all searches, not just Terry stops, to reasonable suspicion rather than probable cause? There could be all sorts of ways we could save lives if only we didn't let that silly old Bill of Rights get in our way. Would they be OK with you? If not, why is gun control different?

Pho said...

First off, if you as a liberal want to really bring wood to the 2nd Amendment fight, why fall back on gun rights proponents? You have near-legendary liberal constitutional scholars like Sandy Levinson, Akhil Amar and Larry Tribe now backing you up.

Your "ignore the constitution" smack annoys me. It's not ignoring the constitution to say that the second amendment doesn't say that. You may not agree with my position, but saying I'm ignoring the constitution is snippy without being substantive.

What's more, we balance the fundamental rights in the Constitution against societal good all the time. Even freedom of speech bumps up against the boundary of a clear and present danger.

Finally, and actually most importantly, I'm interested in why you think that owning a gun should be a fundamental right, not what you think is in the constitution. If it's not in the constitution does that make gun control acceptable. If not, why not.

Discuss.

Jason Sonenshein said...

"...I'm interested in why you think that owning a gun should be a fundamental right, not what you think is in the constitution."

Well, self defense is a fundamental right; wouldn't you agree? A person isn't truly free if he or she is required meekly to submit to the depredations of murderers, rapists, or robbers. A government that forbids its citizens from fighting back against murderers, rapists, or robbers would effectively be taking the side of murderers, rapists, and robbers against peaceful citizens. That wouldn't be quite right, would it? And if self defense is a fundamental right, then to deny citizens the tools of self defense would be a violation of that right.

Here's an analogy: I'd bet that you and I both agree that the free practice of religion is a fundamental right. Suppose a government didn't specifically outlaw the practice of religion, but banned certain tools of religious practice, such as communion wafers or yarmulkes. A ban on certain tools of religious practice would without question be a violation of the fundamental right to practice religion, so it would follow that a ban on certain tools of self defense would be a violation of the fundamental right of self defense.

OK, you're probably thinking that explains why gun ownership is a fundamental right, but why is concealed carry a fundamental right? Well, let's go back to the religion example. Suppose a government doesn't put an outright ban on communion wafers or yarmulkes, but instead enacts a special tax that applies only to communion wafers, and requires yarmulke wearers to obtain licenses, and makes a list of licensed yarmulke wearers available to newspapers. Such a law would still be a violation of the fundamental right to practice religion. To be sure, it would be a lesser violation than the first example, but it would still be a violation.

Ohio's current law is analogous to the second example. Putting a special tax and license requirement on the use of the tools of exercising a fundamental human right is a lesser violation of that right than an outright ban on the use of such tools would be, but it's still a violation, and it's still wrong.

"If it's not in the constitution does that make gun control acceptable. If not, why not."

No, for the reasons I stated above.

Additionally, laws that create victimless crimes are immoral and impractical for a number of reasons. I suppose if one were to read the Ninth Amendment very broadly, one could argue that they are unconstitutional. But, whether or not such laws are constitutional, they're still wrong.

"...if you as a liberal want to really bring wood to the 2nd Amendment fight, why fall back on gun rights proponents? You have near-legendary liberal constitutional scholars like Sandy Levinson, Akhil Amar and Larry Tribe now backing you up."

Thanks for the tip. I'll check out what they have to say about the Second Amendment.

"Your 'ignore the constitution' smack annoys me. It's not ignoring the constitution to say that the second amendment doesn't say that. You may not agree with my position, but saying I'm ignoring the constitution is snippy without being substantive."

Sorry. I didn't mean to be snippy. If the words "...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed" don't mean that an individual has a constitutional right to own and carry weapons, then what, in your opinion, do they mean?

"...we balance the fundamental rights in the Constitution against societal good all the time."

OK here are three scenarios:

Scenario 1: Mary has no criminal record and hasn't been adjudicated as mentally ill or incompetent. She buys a firearm, learns how to use it safely, and carries it openly in a holster.

Scenario 2: Same as Scenario 1, but instead of carrying openly, Mary carries the firearm in her purse or under her jacket.

Scenario 3: Same as Scenario 2, but before carrying the firearm in her purse or under her jacket, Mary first goes to Drew Alexander's office. One of Sheriff Alexander's deputies extracts tribute from Mary, then hands her name and address over to The Plain Dealer.

What societal good is served by making Mary a felon in Scenario 2, but not in Scenarios 1 and 3? What evidence is there that to do so would make you, me, or any other Ohioan any safer?