It’s mind-boggling that some libertarians are so naive they think they can trust the Supreme Court to safeguard–sorry, to “establish,” in the words of the LP Chair–our rights. They cheer on the central state that robs us daily as if it’s some vindicator of our rights. But as William Grigg noted, the Court only condescended to recognize a very narrow right to armed self-defense, but then put all sorts of caveats and limits on it, stating the many “permissible” ways the state may regulate it, “thereby redefining it as a State-conferred privilege.”
And it doesn’t take ‘em long, does it? Not even a week later, we have Mullenix v. BATF, in which the federal court relied on the Heller decision to rule against a firearms dealer who wanted to import a reproduction WW II-era German machinegun. No, the court said, Scalia made it clear that the Second Amendment is not “unlimited”; and that things like sawed-off shotguns and machineguns can of course be regulated!
See also U.S. v. Dorosan, decided on June 30, 2008, just days after Heller, holding that because Heller makes it clear that the right to bear arms is not unlimited, and may be prohibited in “sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,” then “39 C.F.R. § 232.1(1)[,] which bans possession of weapons solely on postal property is not unconstitutional as applied.”
[Update: On July 15, 2008, the federal court in U.S. v. Gilbert confirmed that, based on Heller, the jury instructions given in a criminal case were correct, since Heller makes it clear that individuals "do not have the right to possess machineguns or short-barreled rifles, as Gilbert did, and convicted felons, such as Gilbert, do not have the right to possess any firearms."]
So what does Heller stand for? Well, it makes it clear that gun limitations and regulations are perfectly permissible. Their only legitimate use–when the state thinks it’s “reasonable”–is for self-defense against private criminals–not self-defense against public criminals–down with this whole right to revolution. So the ruling really helps entrench government power. And, of course, thanks to the perverse incorporation doctrine, the Second Amendment will no doubt be applied to the states … by the federal government. I.e., yet more power seized by the feds. So let’s see: Heller has further eroded two of the most fundamental limits on the central state: the right to revolution, and vertical separation of powers (federalism).
(thanks to Max Chiz for the links)Aside: Tonight I was reading the latest (August) issue of Liberty, and noticed an ad by the Institute for Justice (2) on the back cover, featurings its founder, Chip Mellor, and Bob Levy, one Heller’s lawyers, advertising their new book, The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom. What caught my eye was the ad text:
We’ve challenged judicial activism where it invented new rights out of whole cloth.
We’ve challenged judicial passivism where it refuses to protect rights that are clearly stated in the Constitution.
And now we’ve written a book that calls for judicial engagement to protect our rights and limit government’s power.
More “judicial engagement,” after detailing “Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom”? After Heller was so disappointing? Good luck, guys.9:30 pm on July 7, 2008 Email Stephan Kinsella