By Robert K.
One of the arrows in my quiver when debating friends and associates about gun control is that fighting for the infringement of any right erodes the strength of all of our rights. And now that unpleasant reality has smacked some squarely in the face in the form of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law . . .
Civil rights groups are shocked, shocked!, that voters in the Quaker State will now have to present photo identification in order to exercise their right to vote. They argue that such a requirement is equal to disenfranchisement of thousands of voters who do not currently possess such a thing. They insist that voter fraud is rare, there is no need for such regulation, and that this is nothing more than a political ploy by Republicans to reduce Democrat voter turnout.
When I lived in Massachusetts, I had to pay $100, get fingerprinted, interview at the local police station, and wait four months before I was allowed to possess any kind of firearm, ammunition or even even spent casings…on private property. And I was living in a gun friendly town. If a mere photo ID is enough to deter somebody from exercising their right to vote, what kind of effect do you think the gun ownership rigamarole has on a citizen exercising their right to keep and bear arms? (Hint: 84% decrease in legal gun ownership, 68% increase in gun related homicides.)
When gun control advocates fight to regulate the right to bear arms, they claim that forcing citizens to jump through a series of hoops to exercise their Second Amendment right is justified by public safety concerns. Well, now that’s coming back to bite them in the ass. The judge ruling on the voter ID case decided that, “the statute simply gives poll workers another tool to verify that the person voting is who they claim to be,” and that the restrictions were OK because they would be applied without discrimination.
It’s a bizarre experience reading the various reactions to this. In fact, if you run a find/replace “voting” with “keeping and bearing arms” in many of the arguments, you basically have Bruce Kraft’s writings here at TTAG. Let’s go through one rebuttal to the ruling, shall we?
Right off the bat he determined that the harm of issuing a preliminary injunction against the state (because notices had already been sent out to voter registration officials about the new law), would be worse than the harm to theoretical voters. All I can say is, good God, what are courts for if not to protect the rights of voters?
Replace “voters” with “citizens,” and you have my reaction to every ruling favorable to gun control.
The interesting thing was that the Republicans in the legislature never demonstrated that there was or ever had been any instance of false voting in the state.
Do you think Chicago has presented any evidence that lawful concealed carry has increased crime anywhere? How about Washington D.C.? Or California, or any other government body that isn’t shall issue? (I’m specifically addressing concealed carry here because that’s what most court cases are concerned with, but you can certainly make the same argument for legal gun ownership.
There have been a large number of comments on Patch and elsewhere to the effect that it is easy to get an ID that would satisfy the new law. While I disagree that it is easy for many people to do that, the point is that the United States Constitution absolutely prohibits anything of the kind.
The Fourteenth Amendment provides as follows:
“1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
There is no question that the right to vote is a “privilege” of citizens, and citizens are citizens whether they can prove it or not. And they are entitled to “equal protection,” that is, if others vote they must all be allowed to vote. Indeed, the Supreme Court has held unconstitutional poll taxes as low as $1.50. Obviously the amount of time and money necessary to obtain an ID that satisfies the law will cost a lot more than that.
What? Invoking the constitution? What madness is this? Hey, I can play this game, too:
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.
Seems pretty clear to me. And if a poll tax of $1.50 is unconstitutional, how about that $100 fee? Or the 300-odd dollars it takes in NYC? Or the several days off work, the cost of traveling (The Metro is expensive) and registration fees required by the District?
Finally, I would say that photography was invented long after the Constitution was adopted. The Founding Fathers never contemplated the ID check the Commonwealth Court approved in Pennsylvania.
Correct. They also didn’t contemplate microstamping, electronic registries, or the ATF.
Look, no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on, it’s your obligation to fight for ALL of your rights, no matter how distasteful or scary you may find some of them. If you allow the state to trample one right, you open the door for it to attack them all.
Disclaimer: I have no real dog in the ID fight. On the one hand, it seems a reasonable restriction to reduce potential voting fraud. On the other, the term reasonable restriction scares the hell out of me, and there’s no real evidence of voter ID fraud. Just so you know.