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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

National Problems Require National Solutions

Jeralyn at TalkLeft:

I agree with the Sheriffs. And as I've stated a dozen times here over the years, laws should not be enacted in response to singular tragedies, no matter how horrific. Cooler heads are needed. Whether it's the Patriot Act or gun control, there's no need to curtail our constitutional rights by passing laws that are unlikely to make us safer, just curtail our freedoms. Act in haste, repent at leisure.

Also, gun regulation and legislation should be up to the states. What East and West Coast city dwellers and politicians like Mayor Bloomberg want for their high density, over-populated states may not be necessary or desirable to those of us in other states, particularly western states like Colorado, Wyoming, Montana. "One-size- fits- all" laws are rarely the answer.

Um...while Sandy Hook might be a proximate catalyst for the current political movement on gun safety, it's really not a singular tragedy but rather part of a constellation of tragedies, including mutiple mass shootings last year with the same style weapon.  It's disingenuous to suggest that Obama's 23 memos (which are not, in fact, executive orders) amount to something reactionary because of an isolated incident.  

It's also clear that beyond Obama's fairly low-grade actions, any legislation will take significantly longer than USA PATRIOT to (probably not) be passed.  So spare me the "we need time to cool down" thing: the process itself is a cooling down opportunity, and of course there will most likely be another incident soon enough when we're told we gotta cool down some more, showing Zeno was a piker.

And leaving it all to the states?  Certainly there are regional and local differences, and some flexibility is probably required (though not so much as many would like thanks to Heller and McDonald).  But that's a pretty glib, one-size-fits all approach itself, reducing the problem to a "state issue" when some aspects might indeed be more national.

We already have the NFA and other national laws that do appear to be effective (although perhaps there are bad guys running around secretly using machine guns in their criminal activities).  And unless you believe we live in an immobile society wherein peasants only go at most about 20 miles from the places of their birth throughout their lifetimes, guns will travel.

Since this is an issue of social welfare, I think the case of Social Security, which was found to be constitutional back in 1937, can be somewhat instructive:

The problem is plainly national in area and dimensions. Moreover, laws of the separate states cannot deal with it effectively...[and] has special dangers of its own if put in force in one state and rejected in another. The existence of such a system is a bait to the needy and dependent elsewhere, encouraging them to migrate and seek a haven of repose. Only a power that is national can serve the interests of all.

Instead of migration to access local benefits, we have gun trafficking with some states like Vermont being net firearm exporters.   But the idea is the same: when dealing with something national in scope, leaving it to asymmetric state solutions can actually make things worse than having a unified approach.  It's one reason we have a General Government in the first place.


January 30, 2013 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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Excellent. Thank you for this. I wish you would have posted this as a comment in Jeralyn's post. I thought her ideas were so insular, not well-thought out, and, frankly, kind of silly. We who live in the west are gun-totin' mamas and bad-ass cowboys, livin' and breathin' with guns at our sides and under our pillows. Sheesh.

I often wonder why you are a lawyer. Or teach in a law school.

Posted by: lea-p | Jan 30, 2013 9:51:32 PM

*I often wonder why you are a lawyer. Or teach in a law school.*

ooh so i'm not the only one!

Posted by: ericka | Jan 31, 2013 8:55:45 AM

oh dear, I, of course, meant: "I often wonder why you are NOT a lawyer."

[The preview button does not necessarily mean reading comprehension.]

Posted by: lea-p | Jan 31, 2013 10:54:11 AM

LOL, we understood your intent even if the letter of the law was suspect.

But I'm too lazy to go back to school and would rather make bad laws that lawyers have to deal with.

Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Jan 31, 2013 3:29:03 PM

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