The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group was founded last month by LilithGardener, OregonOak, Glen the Plumber, and Joy of Fishes. Some of us have been using firearms for many years while others have never owned or handled a gun. We published a Glossary of Resources to make it easier for everyone to find answers to their questions and support their opinions with primary sources of firearms law and policy research. If you find gun jargon confusing you are not alone. This Glossary of Gun Terminology from Handgun Law may help you find the right words.
We hope that diaries covering different aspects of firearms law will help us to understand which laws are in effect where we live, and how they came to be what they are. Diaries about hunting, shooting sports, and "gun culture" may help us to bridge the urban/rural divide that seems impassable at times. See BadKitties diary Nature vs. Nurture: Are Guns in the Blood? and share your thoughts on one mother's dilemma. Most firearms laws are passed and enforced at the state level. Currently, if responsible gun owners want to take their guns with them when they travel across state lines, it can be quite challenging to remain in compliance with the law. Our goal is to study and discuss gun laws and regulations, in this post-Heller environment. We want to understand what restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms are consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Introduction: Why the First Amendment comes before the Second
Consider an excerpt from Jeffrey Feldman's 2008 diary on the Heller decision and why the First Amendment comes before the Second.
"Weapons In Case Of Confrontation"A note from the founders about our profile statement: We want to be informed citizens. Our goal is to reduce confusion and enable readers of Daily Kos to peruse and study primary documents for themselves. None of us are experts on constitutional law. Most of us are not even lawyers. Thank you poco, for asking us about our profile and prompting an excellent discussion. We will update our profile as soon as we reach a consensus on what we really meant to say.
For those who do not realize it, all rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution flow from the 1st Amendment which is about 'freedom of expression.' As the Constitution is the basis of our system of government, the Bill of Rights is the core description of what it means to be a citizen.
Right one: freedom of expression--speech, assembly, and so forth. Without that right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, there is no need to continue the conversation because citizens are not free unless they have those rights. No free citizens, no free society, no Democracy. Hence, when the Framers created the Bill of Rights, they put the most important right on which the entire system depended first--not second, not third, not tenth, but first.
I make this point, which may seem obvious to most, because if you listen to those who supposedly argue in favor of an 'individual rights' interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, they argue a very different vision. What they argue is that the most fundamental right of our entire Constitution is not the 1st Amendment, but the 2nd Amendment. Without the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of individuals the use guns to defend themselves in case of confrontation, there is no free society and nothing else in the Constitution--no other rights--have any meaning.
Let me repeat that.
The Bill of Rights puts freedom of speech first and the right of the people to bear arms second. The NRA and its advocates reverse that mode, insisting that the right to bear arms is the first fundamental right in the American system, and everything else is second.
In that argument are the seeds of a fundamental change in what it means to be an American citizen--what it means to be a free person. On the one hand, we have a vision of the world where one is free by virtue of the right to express oneself. On the other hand, we have a vision of the world where one is free by virtue of the right to shoot a potential attacker.
The Framers of the Constitution set up a system that defined freedom in one way, not the other. The DC v. Heller majority opinion reversed that.
According to the court, we now live in a world where the freedom to use a gun in moments of confrontation--albeit with some limits--is a fundamental right above all else.
• Dear LilithGardener, (10+ / 0-)Welcome to our first open thread.
I really appreciate this group and its ethos and purposes.
But (and this may not be the ideal venue for discussing this) I am loathe to join, only because of this:We will discuss firearms law and policy with an emphasis on the many historical ethics and ideals of Western Civilization, as opposed to what are currently known as "Libertarian" ideals.And this is where I cavil. Like Gandhi, I think that Western Civilization "would be a good idea," but the term used non-ironically raises all my hackles. The ethics and ideals of Western civilization are as relevant and great as the ethics and ideals of Eastern civilization; making this demarcation seems to be just a hollow patting oneself on the back.
What about humanitarian ideals? Or universal/global ethics?
I understand that the phrase may have been chosen for certain specific political purposes, but the usage of this phrase has ramifications that go beyond this specific purpose. It (inadvertently, I am sure) makes all of us who do not belong to Western Civilization feel uncivilized and savage, which (I am sure) is not the intent of your group.