Conservatives are thrilled about the Supreme Court decision settling the 2nd amendment issue in favor of individual gun owners (versus the idea that gun rights are only within the framework of a well-regulated militia). They are celebrating the constitution today. God bless their hearts. I wish they did that more often and about more amendments.
I believe in gun control. I believe that guns do kill people. In fact, they are designed to kill things. It is indisputable that they make killing a lot easier. That's what they're made for.
But I believe my side has lost this issue for now in the court of public opinion and in the Supreme Court. There are actually two different issues here. One is the policy argument concerning how much gun control we should have. The other is the constitutional argument of what the second amendment means.
I think it is reasonable to disagree on the meaning of the second amendment. In fact, I'm torn on it. If I heard this case myself as a judge and ultimately came down against the majority decision (which is not a certainty at all, I think this presents an excellent and close constitutional question -- apparently the Supreme Court agreed since they split 5-4 on it), I still wouldn't find the majority position unreasonable.
So, I am happy to concede that we should follow the second amendment to the letter of the law (as interpreted in this case). Now, can conservatives find it in their heart to agree that we should also follow the fourth amendment to the letter of the law? And if they can't, what possible logical or constitutional arguments can they have for fervently defending one amendment and rejecting another?
The fourth amendment clearly states that the government needs a warrant with probable cause in order for it to conduct a search or seizure. The Bush administration has been in flagrant violation of this for seven years now. They refuse to get warrants to wiretap conversations of Americans speaking with or emailing people abroad. This is clearly illegal and unconstitutional. But here conservatives find the constitution a little more inconvenient.
Justice Scalia warned after the recent Guantanamo Bay case, that the majority had almost certainly caused the deaths of many Americans with their decision. I think that's absurd hyperbole. But what is entirely possible is that the second amendment decision written by Scalia will lead to many more American deaths. But I don't begrudge him that. If he thinks that's the correct interpretation of the amendment, then our only recourse is to pass another amendment overriding it (not going to happen). We'll have to live with the extra deaths. Freedom isn't free.
But here, I propose a very fair trade. I will trade the second amendment for the fourth amendment. If the Bush administration releases the fourth amendment that it is currently holding hostage, I'm happy to consider the Supreme Court decision on the second amendment final and decisive. You keep the second amendment, we keep the fourth.
That seems like the fairest possible trade. My guess is that conservatives won't bite. They will continue the party line about how crucial it is that we follow the constitution when it comes to the second amendment and how important it is that we ignore the constitution when it comes to the fourth.