"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

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“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2nd Amendment, we hardly knew ye....

I agree with Cameron Kasky; although actually, I agree with John Paul Stevens.  Repeal of the 2nd Amendment is an excellent idea, whether it will ever happen or not.  It's a perilously bad piece of the Constitution no more viable or sensible than Prohibition or the 3/5ths clause, and I rise to remind the assembled that we changed both of those (eventually).  We can't change things without talking about them, after all.  The 2nd Amendment is not going to wither and fall from the tree one day, allowing healthier growth to thrive in its absence.

Law professor Adam Winkler thinks Stephens is all wet:

Well, yes, the NRA is the problem; but the backstop of the NRA is the 2nd Amendment, which some people think actually enshrines a right to own guns they were born with (why you weren't born with the right to own automatic weapons, or how you can lose that right by committing a felony, is never quite explained).  The politics of gun laws don't stem from the NRA, but from the 2nd Amendment.  Take that away and the gun laws in Texas and Georgia suddenly become a lot less tenable, because it is the screaming minority that gets those laws passed.  If they are overruled by the majority in a constitutional amendment that removes the 2nd (yes, it can be done; we've done it before), their voices suddenly become very small, indeed.  And note this curious argument in his twitter rant:
So Heller didn't have any effect, except it did:  it gave the NRA judicial approval of their argument, or at least the ability to argue they'd won, for the first time in American history, judicial approval of their argument.  As Stephens (a dissenter on the Heller opinion, which puts him a bit closer to the action than Winkler), wrote in his op-ed:

 That [Heller] decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.

A point Winkler can't really argue about, so he tries to wave it away; while keeping it because it accords so well with reality.  Yes, the NRA "was a huge political powerhouse before" Heller; but that power only extended by 31 years, to 1977.  That's when the "gun nuts" took over the organization, and we've seen the results of that to this day:

In particular, the NRA has been fueled by the belief that the Second Amendment is the one thing standing against a tyrannical government. Its core claim: Without an armed citizenry, the government will have an easier time suppressing people’s rights. It was not that the Second Amendment was there to let state governments maintain militias; it was that the Second Amendment was there to let the people stand against the government in general. In embracing and propagating this view, the NRA managed to tap into growing public distrust in government — fueled especially by Watergate and the failure of the Vietnam War.
When the 2nd Amendment is your entire raison d'être and the linchpin of your argument for gun ownership, especially as many guns as one person can possibly own, it rather stands to reason that a repudiation of that argument on a national scale by repealing the 2nd Amendment would not only remove the NRA's primary source document, but remove their claim to speak for the majority of America.

Seems to me, anyway.

Now, could this get done?  Charlie Pierce doesn't think so; but Charlie also points out that Dr. King had to use a "children's crusade" to get JFK off his ass and putting forward a Civil Rights Act that LBJ finally got through Congress.  It was a bold move even King wasn't comfortable with, but the sight of children facing dogs and water cannons in Alabama was enough to turn the tide some thought couldn't be turned.

And then there was the repeal of slavery, women getting the vote, the repeal of Prohibition, the anti-war movement that didn't end the war but certainly ended the draft; mixed-race marriage; gay marriage; abortion rights.

Never say "never."


As ever, the commentary on this is just that Trump said it.  But it's clear Trump thinks the Supreme Court might one day repeal the 2nd Amendment (why else must the GOP "ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court"?).  Which, of course, is not how this works; it's not how any of this works.

You really can't give the man any credit.  As ever, his words are empty.


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