I have been thinking about the Brady Campaign story that the Heller and McDonald decisions are really a good thing for their side. They claim it has, “Taken the extremes in the gun debate off the table, and given us the opportunity to decide what kind of gun restrictions make sense in our communities”.
This is based on the premise, as proposed in Chapter 3 of Half-Truth Henigan book Lethal Logic (I really need to finish up that review) that freedom activists use the slippery slope threat of a complete gun ban as justification for opposing all restrictions on firearms.
Okay… lets turn this around and see if it still makes sense with the tables turned.
Let us suppose that in some alternate reality there is an evil NRA and the the good guys are the Brady Campaign. The opposite of a complete gun ban is not what the Brady Campaign claims as “any gun, anyplace, anytime”. It is mandatory gun ownership, training, and subsidies. Suppose Washington D.C. and Chicago had the evil NRA’s dream of a mandatory hour a day instruction and/or practice in firearm use from age 5 on up. All guns, ammo, and ranges for the mandatory practice are supplied at taxpayer expense. Furthermore all people were required to purchase at least one each of a shotgun, bolt gun, semi-auto rifle, semi-auto pistol, revolver, sub-machine gun, heavy machine gun, and (with subsidies for those who needed help) a mini-gun. Other political jurisdictions varied in oppression with California only requiring one hour a week of practice and citizens over the age of 21 only have to purchase one handgun and one semi-auto rifle while Vermont implemented the good Brady Campaign ideals saying, “Do what you want, just don’t hurt anyone else or their property.”
Now suppose Alan Gura, still working for the Cato Institute, takes D.C. and Chicago to court and gets the mandatory purchase requirements for eight different firearms thrown out as violating the Constitution. The justices also say “This narrow ruling should not be interpreted as saying all mandated training or purchases of firearms is unconstitutional”.
Would the evil NRA be justified in saying this furthers their goals? Would it be reasonable to claim, “This has taken the extremes off the table and has given us the opportunity to decide what kind of mandatory gun ownership and training laws make sense in our communities”?
The answer is no. The U.S. Constitution is about limiting government. It gives enumerated powers to government and guarantees specific enumerated inalienable rights. In pushing the D.C. and Chicago government as far as they did the evil NRA was able to violate the rights of the people in those jurisdictions. Those governments had clearly gone beyond their constitutionally granted powers and was oppressing the people. What the ruling does is throw into question all requirements of firearm ownership and training because those requirements were a violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom.
And, back in our reality, the Brady Campaign supported complete ban on firearms in D.C. was a violation of a guaranteed freedom. When that was overthrown it put into question all similar restrictions on freedom. It does not enable everything short of a complete ban.