Saturday, October 09, 2004


"On the way to the range, I tried to do what few liberals ever attempt: I tried to understand the gun-owner's mentality. (Full disclosure: I'm so liberal that the "Dean Scream" sounded like a whimper to me, but you won't hear me challenging the Second Amendment. No matter where you put the comma, I think it's pretty clear that the Framers wanted us to be able to bear arms.) And Paul makes it easy to like a gun-nut. He doesn't keep loaded firearms around the house. He doesn't get his kicks out of shooting living things. He doesn't show off.

But he does say things like, "I would only use an assault rifle if civil order had broken down and I needed to defend myself." (By comparison, the only thing I fear breaking down is the soft-serve machine at my local Carvel.) And he also says things like, "A loaded gun is the most effective self-defense tool available" (although I suggested that a more-effective tool is the famous "Kuntzman unconditional surrender"). And he really does believe that if everyone was armed, there would be less violent crime in America (there are many statistics that bear this out, but there are other statistics that don't, which explains the expression, "Damn statistics!").

I don't agree with him on any of those points, but I'll allow Paul his opinion because he's so darn safe with firearms. His concern for safety made me feel bad that non-gun owners like me stigmatize people like him simply because they enjoy the company of a deadly weapon. "The vast majority of firearm owners are as responsible, if not more so, than I am about safety," he said, complaining that non-gun people simply can't accept that a "responsible gun owner" is not an oxymoron. "Often there is no distinction made between us and those who are not responsible-criminals. We're not about shooting people."

More here.


Alameda County won a final victory Monday in defense of its ordinance banning gun shows at its fairgrounds, as the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case. The high court's refusal means the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling, which rejected show promoters' arguments that their First and Second Amendment rights were being violated, will stand. San Mateo, Marin and Los Angeles counties have adopted ordinances similar to Alameda County's, and Monday's milestone could invite more counties to do the same.

The Nordykes, doing business as TS Trade Shows, promoted gun shows at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton from 1991 until 1999, when county supervisors adopted an ordinance making illegal the possession of firearms on county property. The ordinance came in response to a 1998 fairgrounds shooting in which eight people were wounded. The Nordykes sued in federal court, but U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins of San Francisco refused to issue an injunction against the law. Among the Nordykes' claims was that the ordinance was pre-empted by state gun laws, so the 9th Circuit appeals court in 2000 asked the California Supreme Court to rule on that; the state's high court found no such conflict. In February 2003, the 9th Circuit upheld Jenkins' ruling.

"We conclude that a gun itself is not speech," wrote Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain. "Someone has to do something with the symbol before it can be speech. ... Typically a person possessing a gun has no intent to convey a particular message, nor is any particular message likely to be understood by those who view it." And, he wrote, "we have squarely held that the Second Amendment guarantees a collective right for the states to maintain an armed militia and offers no protection for the individual's right to bear arms."

The 9th Circuit's ruling was based on a ruling it made in 2002 upholding California's ban on assault weapons, in which it concluded the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the states to maintain armed militias but does not grant individuals the right to bear arms. The U.S. Supreme Court refused that case last year."

More here.

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