Cato Panel Featuring Alan Gura and Dennis Henigan

Gura’s optimism is refreshing. I am probably more pessimistic by nature about the Federal Courts’ willingness to give us a strong Second Amendment right. It’s good to hear experts who feel strongly that our chances are good.

Dennis Henigan starts out, instead of talking about constitutional law, talks about public policy instead, talking about how this is just a strategy to implement our “guns everywhere” policy. He later goes on to speak of how narrow the Heller decision is, suggesting that the right is limited to the home. He pleads with other panelist not to regard the Second Amendment like the First Amendment:

The Second Amendment should be regarded as, to some extent, sui generis. It is like no other right. It is, in my view, the most dangerous right. It demands its own unique constitutional jurisprudence that is highly deferential to the very very difficult judgements our elected officials have to make as they seek to formulate policies that will prevent future Tucsons, and that will reduce the tragic toll of gun violence in this country that now takes 80 of our fellow citizens lives every day.

In other words, because the right is unique, and lots of people die by gunfire, we should read it as meaning as little as possible.

Nelson Lund makes a number of criticisms of Heller from an originalist point of view. He seems to be much more on the pessimist side, and doesn’t seem to like the Heller and McDonald decision all that much, for similar reasons we all don’t like it. I’m probably not even close to as pessimistic as Lund, though maybe not so much as Gura. But I think I’m closer to Gura’s position than Lund’s.

Alan Morrison was supposed to argue the Heller case for DC, but infighting in DC government prevented it. He also reiterates that the Second Amendment can’t be like the First Amendment because “guns can hurt you.” It’s funny how many of his criticisms are identical to Lund’s.

14 thoughts on “Cato Panel Featuring Alan Gura and Dennis Henigan”

  1. It’s a shame that this was a polite Cato function, because when Hennigan started spouting the bullshit public health “science” statistics someone ought to have stood up and punched him in the lying mouth.

  2. Probably the most stunning statement made by Henigan was something along the lines that “nothing in the Heller decision would suggest that the right extends beyond the home.”

  3. The “guns can hurt people” is perhaps one of the most awkward discussion points in this whole issue. It’s one of those arguments where typically gun owners lose in terms of public perception. That is because most of the public will knee-jerk into the conclusion that “hurting people is bad.” Well, of course it is, when those people are innocents.

    However, what is ironic about it is this …. while I own guns for a whole number of different reasons, if I had to get to the nitty-gritty of the most fundamental reason I own them, it would have to be precisely because of the fact that “guns can hurt people.”

    I have long held that the second amendment protects the right of the people (or a person) to justly wield deadly force. That’s why this is a freedom issue (the right to wield deadly force) AND a responsibility issue (the maturity and level-headedness to understand what is just and lawful).

    There simply cannot be freedom without responsibility … the two go together like peas and pods, guns and ammo, or meat and potatoes. But in my view, responsibility cannot be mandated … cannot be extrinsic. Responsibility is intrinsic to each person. And we all need to educate folks (and kids) on this subject, post-haste.

  4. Henigan may be right in a purely technical sense about Heller holding that there is a right to keep firearms – but the McDonald decision took the opportunity to say “as well held in Heller, the right is to keep and bear arms…”; and there’s nothing in Heller to suggest that they meant to foreclose the Bear option, just that it wasn’t before the court.

  5. Mr. Argent:

    What Henigan said was “nothing in Heller suggests that the right extends beyond the home.”

    Nothing suggests that? What about these statements:

    “The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places”

    “Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

    Those statements STRONGLY suggest that there is a right to arms outside the home. If laws can forbid carrying in sensitive places, then necessarily there are “not sensitive” placed where such behavior can’t be forbidden. And “carrying weapons in case of confrontation” likewise suggests a right outside the home, because most confrontations occur outside the home, and because the argument that carrying is limited to inside one’s home is … well, absurd.

  6. He also reiterates that the Second Amendment can’t be like the First Amendment because “guns can hurt you.”

    REALLY? So can the left please stop with all this “violent right wing rhetoric” bullshit if, unlike guns, words can’t hurt you.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  7. Elmo:

    You know as well as anyone else that it’s not the words that actually hurt anyone, but what someone else did with…. oh shit!

  8. I watched this about a week ago. I thought that it was largely anti gun in tone. Apart from Gura anyway. It was a great example of how lawyers can take what we think is a “right” and qualify it to death.
    I am beginning to really hate lawyers.

  9. It was frustrating to watch this on CSPAN because Henigan got away with so many false statements.

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