June 27, 2008

I Got Yer Rights Right Here

I briefly pointed out yesterday why the Supreme Court's determination that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual right tells you nothing. The increasingly oppressive and intrusive corporatist-authoritarian-surveillance state can claim to recognize individual rights all day long, and it can still destroy each and every one of them entirely.

The individual right to bear arms identified by the Supreme Court on Thursday will have little practical impact in most of the country, legal experts said, though Washington's comprehensive ban on handguns used for self-defense in the home will have to be revised, and similar laws in several cities are also vulnerable.

Most state and city gun restrictions appear to be allowed under the ruling, including licensing laws, limits on the commercial sale of guns, restrictions on guns in places like schools and government buildings and prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill. "Dangerous and unusual" weapons can also be banned, although that phrase was not fully defined.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, also suggested that bans on concealed weapons would probably pass — new locution alert — Second Amendment muster. Justice Scalia added that the court's list of permissible restrictions was not exhaustive.

The legal battlegrounds will be cities with ordinances similar to Washington's essentially complete ban, most notably Chicago.
But, Arthur, you object, an "essentially complete ban" is out. That's a good thing, right? Sure, my friend, it's awesomely cool.

Except for the fact that an "essentially complete ban" need not be accomplished by, you know, essentially completely banning guns. Through the miracle of the authoritarian-surveillance state's endlessly inventive bureaucratic wondrousness, the government can use licensing laws, limits on commercial sale, place restrictions, ownership restrictions, bans (complete bans!) of weapons considered to be "dangerous and unusual" -- helpfully "not fully defined"! (isn't this fun?) -- bans on concealed weapons ("probably" okay), and still more "permissible restrictions," and presto! Whammo! Shazaam!

You have an "essentially complete ban."

Insert references to Orwell here.

Now you be sure to have fun this weekend! Oh, wait a sec, let me read that list of activities you can't engage in for "fun" anymore. It'll only take three or four hours to read it to you. But don't worry! It's not an essentially complete ban on fun!

Because that would be wrong.

Related history and discussion in, "The Ruling Class Unleashed."