I stumbled across an post over at another blog discussing why the editor doesn’t belong to the NRA.Â In the discussion in the comment, a subject came up that I’ve heard many times in regards to defending restraints on rights:
You have the right to vote, but you still have to register and prove you have the right to vote in a particular area.
It’s an interesting line of argument, and certainly one often used, so I pointed out:
The second amendment supports oneâ€™s fundamental right to self-defense, and is an enumerated right. Voting is actually not considered a right under common law, or in US constitutional law, which is why the constitution has five amendments that specifically limit how states may restrict voting. If it was a right, the way we think of speech, assembly, religion, self-incrimination, what have you, no amendment would be required to limit state powers in this regard except for the fourteenth amendment.
In other areas of constitutional law involving rights, prior restraints on exercising those rights are generally regarded as invalid, and the courts place the severest burden on the state in these types of cases. This law would be a prior restraint, with no due process protections. You are, in effect, severely limiting oneâ€™s right to self-defense, or at least to have access to tools that are useful for that purpose. Itâ€™s a presumption of guilt. Itâ€™s the citizens burden to prove otherwise that he is not guilty. Itâ€™s a complete mockery of our constitutional system to do something like this.
I think critics of the administration are quite right when they point of abuses such as the Jose Padilla case, where a US citizen, who was not captured in a foreign theater of war, and therefore can’t be considered subject to military jurisdiction as a prisoner of war, was nontheless thrown into a military prison and deprived of his rights under the constitution.
What I don’t get is how what Gonzalez and Lautenberg want to do is any different.Â We’re still speaking of depriving someone of a fundamental right without any due process.Â Sure, the right to bear arms may not seem important, but suppose you’re a shop owner of Arabic decent, and you suddenly find yourself getting threats, because, well, for some reason someone decides they want you out of their neighborhood because they don’t like muslims.Â You decide it would be best to keep a firearm in your shop for self-defense.Â But oh, your name is the same as a known terrorist.Â Sorry, no gun for you, but if you fill out this form and file an appeal, we’ll think about letting you exercise your rights.Â Hopefully in the mean time, no one will carry out their threat.Â If you call 911, maybe we’ll get there before you’re lying murdered in your shop.
I would think there would be more outrage on the left over something like this.Â But alas, no.Â The other commenter seems to be rather annoyed by my line of argument, and resorts to condescension rather than seriously refuting my argument.Â Strolling around the lefty blogs to see the reaction to this latest pile of steaming crap from the Bush Administration has left me rather more convinced they don’t have any serious arguments.