Linda Greenhouse (above) is a former New York Times Supreme Court Reporter and Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Senior Fellow at Yale Law School. Ms. Greenhouse published an article on abortion in the Times over the Thanksgiving holiday titled “Chasing Abortion Across State Lines.”
Ms. Greenhouse wrote her literary conniption fit in response to a 60 Minutes interview in which President-Elect Trump suggested that if Roe v. Wade were overturned by a future Court, the issue “would go back to the states.” If such an imaginary future came to pass, women might have to travel to other states to get around regulations, red tape, and outright bans on the procedure.
Ms. Greenhouse describes such a system as “half slave and half free. . . . The last time the United States split into two countries, it didn’t work out at all well.” I hope Ms. Greenhouse will forgive the dry, bitter laugh that eminated from my throat when I read that line. The feeling she expresses is one that anyone who carries a firearm for personal self-defense has felt every time they’ve crossed a state line.
Let’s say I drive to Virginia. Do I have to leave my gun in the car if I go into a restaurant that serves alcohol? What if 49.9 percent of the restaurant’s revenues come from alcohol sales? Does that change anything?
Next, I visit South Carolina. Is my Utah carry license valid there? What if I’m not a resident of Utah? Is it still valid?
Wait — okay, I’m driving through New York City now, on my way to Connecticut. I have an air rifle in the trunk of my car, unloaded, in a locked case separate from the ammunition. I won’t get arrested for that, right?
Do you honestly know the answers to those questions? I don’t. I have an idea, but I wouldn’t bet my freedom on it without doing some research, especially if it involves traversing the Big Apple with anything resmebling a firearm in my possession. And we haven’t yet spoken about the quiet misery experienced by our fellow citizens in places like Hawaii, California, New Jersey, or Maryland, who want to choose the sorts of tools they carry for their own personal security in case they unintentionally end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Note that none of the questions above have anything to do with real firearm safety, like how one ought to store a firearm while it’s not in use, where one should point the gun when it’s being unloaded, or the circumstances in which it’s appropriate to clear leather. No, the things listed above are legal barriers passed to make politicians feel good about themselves, to give lobbyists ways to show their paymasters that they’re providing value.
It’s indeed telling Ms. Greenhouse finds the very conditions that law-abiding gun owners face every day intolerable when the subject is abortion, which isn’t an enumerated civil right. She finds these abortion regulations worthy of Lincolnesque rhetoric on a nation divided. Might we hope that she might deign to offer some succor to fellow Americans who face her nightmare scenario already?
Don’t bother firing up your favorite search engine. I’ve already been there. See Ms. Greenhouse’s column, Guns and Thunder on the Supreme Court’s Right from December 2015 in the New York Times.
Heller was the 2008 decision that for the first time interpreted the Second Amendment as protecting an individual’s right to “keep and bear arms,” specifically to keep a handgun at home….
No federal appeals court has interpreted the Heller decision as providing constitutional protection for the ownership of military-style semiautomatic weapons.
And for good reason: in invalidating the District of Columbia’s categorical ban on handguns…, the Supreme Court didn’t suggest that bans on other weapons with much different qualities and uses would have to fall as well. To the contrary, Justice Scalia ended the Heller opinion by acknowledging the specific problems posed by handguns. “We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country,” he wrote, “and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution.”
(As an aside, the conciliatory tone of this statement is so unlike Justice Scalia that I suspect it was added at the insistence and probably also from the pen of a member of his majority, most likely Chief Justice Roberts.) Justice Scalia (or whoever) continued: “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”
Some animals are more equal than others in Ms. Greenhouse’s political taxonomy. “A house divided,” indeed.