Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Just Know Charlton Heston's Ghost Had Something to Do With This

It is often said that “guns don't kill people. People kill people.” The same can be said of grenades, pipe bombs, arsenic-laced Wheaties, and the Rubik's Cube, all of which should be made legal and widely available right away.

Keep that in mind as you try to understand the shameless hypocrisy oozing out of Washington before and after the Supreme Court's recent decision to obliterate the District of Columbia's ban against hand guns.

For years, lower courts told us the Second Amendment guaranteed we could possess guns “in a well-regulated militia.” The fact that we no longer rely on militia for our national defense seemed to make the amendment obsolete (just like the Third Amendment, which says you can't be forced to allow the Second New Jersey Regiment to crash in your living room, even if they don't have a Designated Driver).

Conservatives tend to want to read the framers' intentions exactly as written (think of the last time a Republican reminded you that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the constitution). Except in Amendment number two, that is. They'd like to conveniently spill some white-out on that whole militia phrase.

Meanwhile, Liberals have generally insisted on interpreting the the constitution more actively (see abortion, free speech, and everything else), but suddenly become sticklers for precise wording and original intent when the topic turns to gun control.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: demented turkeys have hijacked our dominant political ideologies.

For now, Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, and Alito are telling us the constitution needs to roll with the times. I hope they stay in that mood when and if they have to rule on the Patriot Act (see Amendment #4).

So what does this unprecedented boost to the Second Amendment mean for you and me?

Well, for one thing, I can still shoot you, but all the laws that might have prevented me from doing it hastily, accidentally, or with a semi-automatic rifle of some sort are now on shaky ground.

In fact, all laws governing weaponry are at risk. Don't be surprised if I park a tank next door, point the turret in the direction of your house, and set up a lawn chair on top so I can stare and laugh for a few hours. Nothing illegal about that.

(Special note to the paranoid: I'm not actually talking about YOU, just the general “you.” Please put away the Uzi. Thank you.)

Meanwhile, if you live in a ghetto (you don't, but let's pretend for a minute), your life won't change at all. The D.C. handgun law didn't do much to prevent Our Nation's Capital from leading the world in per-capita murders for the last 30 years or so. It's no secret that gun laws are enforced about as well as the speed limit. You can thank NRA lobbyists for that.

Still, shouldn't our laws reflect the kind of society we're trying to live in? I'll always remember the words of the late Molly Ivins: “I remain pro-knife. You have to catch someone in order to stab him. Knives don't ricochet, and people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives. A better deal.”

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