Rob Morse at ammoland.com writes:
Can public opinion require you to buy a gun? We can make that claim sound nicer and call it community standards instead of public opinion. Two federal judges said we can deny or demand firearm ownership. The judges allowed a city ordinance in Illinois to ban the ownership of modern rifles. It also bans ammunition magazines that hold than 10 cartridges. According to the judges, the city of Highland Park, Illinois passed an ordinance that is simply a regulation of the right to keep and bear arms in the home rather than an infringement on the right. In practical terms . . .
two judges allowed politicians to pander to their gun-ban donors as they legislated for headlines. Legal scholars will take apart the Friedman decision and show where it is wrong. In the mean time, let’s see what happens if the judges decision stands.
The judges said a city may limit firearms ownership based on feelings. The same ruling could also allow a city to require firearms ownership.
Let’s start with what the judges said in their decision. They said the Illinois firearms restrictions probably won’t work. That is a good bet since these restrictions won’t slow down criminals getting firearms any more than the previous 23 thousand firearms regulations already in place. Quoting the judge’s decision,
“A ban on assault weapons won’t eliminate gun violence in Highland Park, but it may reduce overall dangerousness of crime that does occur ….”
The judges allowed the city ordinance to stand even though the restrictions on armed self-defense are real while the possible benefits are theoretical. Any excuse will do when an Illinois politician wants to restricts firearms ownership.
There is more, and this is where the judge’s decision gets interesting. The judges said this real infringement on self-defense was justified simply because the public likes it.
“(if the city ordinance) has no other effect, Highland Park’s ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety… If a ban on semiautomatic guns and large-capacity magazines reduces the perceived risk from a mass shooting, and makes the public feel safer as a result, that’s a substantial benefit.”
So we can pass laws that don’t work, as long as the law is politically popular. Give the judges an A+ for honesty, because that is exactly what politicians have done for years.
Consider race-based segregation of schools which was a horrible idea but made us feel better.
Alcohol prohibition was another prime example of political pandering to the public will. Welcome back to bad old days of the 20th century. Do you feel safer now?
Let’s take the judges at their word rather than argue with them. We can pass legislation that regulates the fundamental human right of self-defense. We can do so because the public feels safer. The judges may be surprised how the public “feels”.
A recent Pew poll found that more Americans think a gun in the home makes them safer rather than less safe. The poll also reported that a majority of citizens think it is more important for government to protect the right to own guns rather than to limit gun ownership. The firearms ordinance in Highland Park, Illinois is out of step with public opinion. The politicians are behind the times even if using public emotion is the right method to decide the issue.
A few cities have already enacted regulations that require firearms ownership, though these laws have never been enforced. Now these mandatory ownership ordinances can be enforced since the 7th circuit court has ruled on the supremacy of feelings. The judges said we can now demand guns in the home. We can, and should, enforce mandatory gun ownership with the full weight of state and police powers.. according to the judges. That is, after all, what would make people feel safer.
The legal decisions allowing the imposition of Obamacare gives us further encouragement. We can demand that citizens purchase firearms even if they don’t want them.. since that financial burden is “only a tax”.
Let’s probe a little deeper. There are many segments of the public we could consider as we weigh public feeling. Whose feelings count? Do we only count judges feelings? How about politicians feelings, the voters feelings, or the feelings of political donors. Do all their feelings count equally, or are some feelings more equal than other $$$?
The public says that a gun in the home make them feel safer. Is that one gun or many guns? It could be one gun per home. It could also be one gun per person. We can finally find out if Glock is better than Springfield.. according to public opinion. I can’t wait to hear what the polls say, because research polls are now public policy.
I wonder which community gets to regulate, so the public feels better. Do we decide by state, by city, or by town? Why not make laws for each village, or by each block? Now we’ve achieved the ultimate in democracy. What if one town wants guns, but the street where the university professors live doesn’t want them? This could lead to a lot of signs going up. “Warning- gun free zone for the next 500 feet.”
The best way to eliminate an unjust law is to fully enforce it. Which town will be first to demand my neighbors and I go out and buy a gun? I support this ultimate act of democracy; let us look at what each individual wants to do. Buy a gun if you want to.. or not. Now that is liberal democracy at its finest.
Some day our judges will catch up with liberty.. but we may have to lead them there kicking and screaming. In the mean time I have this advice to gun owners; take time to answer if a polling firm asks for your opinion.
About Rob Morse: By day, Rob Morse works as a mild-mannered engineer for a Southern California defense contractor. By night he writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Gun Rights Magazine, Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.