Washington State’s own Tri-City Herald today published an editorial that speaks about the Second Amendment and how many liberals cling to the notion that it is the illegitimate son in the Bill of Rights; interesting timing since other newspapers today also are discussing recent legislation, H.R. 822, adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives to assure right-to-carry licenses and permits are honored across the country when armed citizens travel.
This column discussed that legislation.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is aghast at the legislation, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not seem terribly happy with it, either. But out west in the Tri-Cities, nothing could seem more simple. A civil right that applies to citizens here should apply everywhere, same as the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth amendments and so forth.
But the Tri-City Herald is candid:
“…the Second Amendment has become the most contentious of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution.
The Second Amendment guarantees citizens the right to bear arms…
Some seize on “militia” and insist the founders were talking about keeping weapons for purposes of defending government. That would make the Second Amendment the only one of the Bill of Rights that was written for the state and not the individual.
(In those days, militias were loosely formed, like possess, and the only way to participate effectively was to bring your own gun.)
No, the Second Amendment is not an aberration, telling citizens of a right they do not have. It is a promise that this is one they can keep.”
At the other end of the country, Philadelphia editorial writers have a different take about recognizing concealed carry permits and licenses from other states:
But the stakes are much higher, since making the right determination about who should – and should not – carry a gun is a potential matter of life and death to a degree unmatched by rules about who gets to slide behind the wheel of a vehicle.
As it happens, Philadelphia already is experiencing the problems that the effective nationalization of handgun-carrying permits would unleash. Because Pennsylvania has a reciprocity agreement with Florida on gun permits, Keystone State residents who have been turned down for gun permits locally are free to obtain them from Florida.
An estimated 900 city residents are now armed in Philadelphia with such mail-order permits from the Sunshine State, and some clearly turned to Florida after being denied permits here. How much worse would the situation be if the Florida loophole were expanded to include every state that applied different standards to gun permitting?
Two questions arise:
1. Who would be more dead, someone killed by a non-resident gun owner, or someone killed by a non-resident drunk driver, or someone who simply causes a fatal crash through negligence?
2. Just how many incidents of Pennsylvanian’s with Florida carry permits have there been in which one of these individuals has killed someone?
The Inquirer could not supply an example, but the Pittsburgh newspaper did; one incident involving a Philly resident who had his Pennsylvania permit revoked and then obtained one from Florida. That man subsequently shot a teenager who was allegedly breaking into automobiles.
But then the Pittsburgh editorial leaped into the “what if” realm by asserting, “Magnify that almost 50 times and you have a problem…” with national reciprocity. Odd that there was no mention, as is typical, of the OK Corral or the Wild West.
Speaking of Pittsburgh’s newspaper, it had this to say:
HR 822 purports to be an effort to provide a national standard so that nonresidents of a state may carry concealed firearms in that state. This would effectively gut the ability of any state that wants reasonable limits on who can carry a concealable gun. A responsible state would be bound, therefore, to accept licenses from states known to have lax standards.
That’s not accurate. The legislation does not, and never has, purported to be an effort to provide a “national standard.” The legislation only provides for one state’s recognition of another state’s carry permit or license, period. Armed citizens must abide by all of the rules and regulations of the state in which he or she is traveling.
The National Rifle Association’s Chris Cox noted in a Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed:
The problem is that interstate recognition of these various permit laws is not consistent. Some states recognize permit holders from other states, and others refuse to recognize any state’s permit but their own. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would solve this problem by requiring states that allow concealed-carry to recognize each other’s permits, in the same way they recognize each other’s driver’s licenses.
Some have erroneously claimed that H.R. 822 would create a “federal gun-licensing” system. This is not true. In fact, the bill protects the right of each state to issue its own permits and determine its own rules regarding concealed carry – such as where carrying is prohibited and where it’s allowed. Visiting permit-holders are required to abide by each state’s unique rules the same way they must obey each state’s speed limits.
All of which brings us around to the bigger argument, the one that gun prohibitionists and gun rights activists are really having, but they don’t care to admit it: Just what is this “right to bear arms” and what does it cover? That, frankly, is where court cases will be headed henceforth, now that Heller and McDonald have firmly established that the right to keep and bear arms refers to an individual civil right.
Anti-gunners claim that under the 2008 Heller ruling, it only allows carrying loaded firearms in one’s home. The problem with Heller is not what it said, but what it did not say. Blame Justice Anthony Scalia for that one.
Gun rights activists, including those who open carry, insist that this right to bear arms extends to just about everywhere, and certainly all public places. That would include city parks, shopping malls, grocery stores, theaters, restaurants, public buildings, and so forth.
A civil right that is limited to the confines of one’s own home is not a civil right at all. It’s not even a privilege.
Bearing arms must extend beyond the front door, and certainly beyond one’s property line. It logically must apply to what was traditional and in vogue at the time James Madison penned the Second Amendment; a period when it was not uncommon to find rural farmers, frontiersmen and townspeople going armed, either with a rifle or musket, a pistol or brace of pistols, perhaps a fixed blade knife of some kind, a hatchet or tomahawk; any manner of weapon.
It was no more shocking a sight than to see someone wearing a three-cornered cap.
In those days, one frequently carried a gun wherever he went, especially when traveling from one state to another. One never could predict whether he might need that gun somewhere along the way.
Same as now.
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