This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 9, 2015:
Lip service is often given to the meaning of words, especially those contained in the Second Amendment: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Those recognizing that the Second Amendment is the anchor to the Bill of Rights, designed to keep government in its place, have since the founding of the Republic argued “original intent.” Those who would, for their own reasons, abrogate the Second Amendment, have tried for decades to change that “original intent” into “whatever works for today.”
Witness the efforts by the Seventh Circuit court in its finding for the law passed by the Highland Park, Illinois city council in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting. That ill-conceived law was passed over the objections of those who understood the language by those who knew that it was the so-called “assault rifle” used in that shooting that caused those deaths of children. If those rifles could be banned from existence then Highland Park residents would be safer.
Enter Dr. Arie Friedman and the NRA, along with the attorneys general of 24 states, to appeal the Seventh Circuit court’s decision. Under its rules, the Supreme Court must have at least four justices agree to take up consideration of an appeal. In Friedman v. The City of Highland Park, Illinois, only two could be found. Hence the decision on Monday by the Supremes, 7-2, to let the appeal pass, giving tacit assent to the infringements wrought by the Highland Park’s law.
The arguments of the Seventh Circuit were specious and irrelevant in finding for Highland Park – so egregious in fact that Justice Clarence Thomas, along with Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote a scathing six-page dissent to the court’s decision to pass on Friedman.
When the Seventh Circuit court upheld the ban, said Thomas, it “adopted a new test for gauging the constitutionality of bans on firearms.” The test asked whether or not the weapons banned were common at the time of ratification (no), or have some reasonable relationship to the efficiency of a well-regulated militia (no) or whether law-abiding citizens had other means for defending themselves even without the now-banned weapons (yes). Therefore, wrote the lower court, the Highland Park ban didn’t infringe on the Second Amendment.
Thomas wrote that such a three-pronged test was irrelevant in determining Second Amendment infringements: “Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures and (yes) even future judges think that scope [is] too broad.”
Because the Second Amendment confers rights upon individual citizens – not state governments – it was doubly wrong for the Seventh Circuit to delegate to States and localities the power to decide which firearms people may possess.
Students of language will note that the Second Amendment does not confer anything. It merely guarantees the right already bestowed upon sovereign citizens by an almighty Creator. Aside from that, however, Thomas was spot on.
By its tacit approval of the Highland Park law, the Supreme Court has opened Pandora’s Box, which it may just have a hard time closing in the future. The liberal LA Times rejoiced: “The court’s decision was not a formal ruling – the justices simply decided not to consider an appeal by gun-rights advocates. But it strongly suggests [that] the majority of the court does not see the Second Amendment as protecting a right to own or carry powerful weapons in public.”
Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, concurred:
The court’s decision will encourage gun control advocates to push more cities and states to enact assault weapons bans.
Even worse, the rejection may reflect a change in the Supreme Court’s attitude toward the Second Amendment itself. Said Winkler:
The justices appear anything but eager to enter into the Second Amendment fray again. Perhaps … some of the justices are viewing gun control through the lens of the recent mass shootings.
Translation: some of those voting for Heller and McDonald may be having second thoughts.
The bunch at the Brady Center were ecstatic over the non-ruling as well. Said Dan Gross, its president:
By rejecting this case, the Supreme Court sided with a community that has taken action to protect itself from the type of violence we’ve seen in San Bernardino, on college campuses and in movie theaters.
This battle in the long war against the Second Amendment is lost, but the war is far from over. Chuck Michel, a Long Beach lawyer and president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, takes the proper view of that war:
It’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court takes a case, sets things straight, and properly subjects this and similar unconstitutional laws to renewed challenge.
Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Lets Stand Local Law Banning Semiautomatic Guns
Chicago Tribune: Highland Park bans assault weapons
Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court appears to give states, localities green light on gun controls
In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit No. 14‐3091 ARIE S. FRIEDMAN and ILLINOIS STATE RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs‐Appellants, v. CITY OF HIGHLAND PARK, ILLINOIS, Defendant‐Appellee.