Friday, June 27, 2008

Gov. Strickland in the Running for Dumbest Post-Heller Reaction

Here's the statement posted on the official website:

    “I concur with today’s landmark decision by the US Supreme Court, which emphasizes what so many have long understood: The right to bear arms is a fundamental civil right like the freedoms of speech and to vote. And it's important that governments at all levels not infringe on those fundamental rights.
Um, Wayne LaPierre has left the building, Governor. You can get up off your knees now.

First off, Scalia's opinion studiously avoided stating whether the right to bear arms is "fundamental." The laundry list Scalia provided of what the Court was not striking down

Second, a finding that the right is fundamental would be if the right to bear arms is directly analogous to the right to speech, where does the Governor think that right ends? Possession of fully automatic weapons? Do we need to strike down the firearms specifications for crimes? After all, we've struck down hate crimes laws that enhanced penalties for things people said in the course of a crime. Does enhancing penalties for possessing but not using a gun in the commission of a crime "infringe" on the right to bear arms. What about concealed carry by convicted felons? Or guns on airplanes?

There appears to this Governor's fealty to the gun lobby.


bonobo said...

Is the commonplace understanding of "arms" as referring to the subset of arms known as "firearms" a matter of settled law?

In the context of finding the right to bear arms to be a fundamental right, would that be subject to re-visitation?

Pho said...

That "arms" means "firearms" is well-settled. What kind of firearms one has a right to -- fundamental or not -- remains to be litigated.

Modern Esquire said...

Sigh, Pho. Isn't pretty clear that Scalia said the right was fundamental but is not unlimited just like the right to free speech is not unlimited? I think I read that somewhere...

Pho said...


Scalia didn't say the right was fundamental, which has been a subject for much tongue-wagging on the blawgs. The received wisdom is that the Court found that the right was violated under any standard of review and that they are kicking down the road the issue of what to call the right. I think something else is going on and hopefully will get to that something else later this week.

The fact that Ted says "fundamental right" is a relatively small point. The statement that "government must not infringe" is what moves this statement in contention for the Dumbness medal. Scalia's opinion took pains to list the kinds of infringements that probably have some Constitutional validity. Strickland's statement is untrue on its face. If Strickland believes it, he's nuttier than we thought on the issue. If he doesn't, he's engaging in pro-gun demagoguery.

Either way, not his best moment.