Monday, June 28, 2010

Beyond Chicago and Incorporation

And the Second Amendment has come back to California … again … and to the rest of the several states as well.

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. Chicago wasn’t the historic victory for civil rights that it could have and perhaps should have been, but it was a victory nonetheless. The court failed to breathe new life into the 14th Amendment’s intended protection for the “privileges or immunities” of American citizenship, but it still found that the Second Amendment applied to state and local governments, restoring the right to arms to its proper place in the pantheon of American civil rights. That is cause enough to celebrate for many reasons.

So what happens next?

Even after Chicago’s handgun ban is dismantled, many details about the nature and scope of the right to arms will still have to be defined. Many gun-control laws will be challenged. Some will pass constitutional muster, and some will not.

Legal challenges that have been on hold here in California can now proceed. The state’s concealed-carry licensing system and certified-handgun roster are clearly discriminatory and violate equal protection under the law. These are the low-hanging fruit. The optimists at the Calguns Foundation expect these to fall within two years.

Meanwhile, the usual batch of gun-control legislation has been moving forward, despite the fact that some form of incorporation has been widely expected since the ruling in D.C. v. Heller two years ago. California legislators and officials are either too ignorant or too disingenuous to avoid the oncoming train of constitutional law.

Elsewhere, some good progress has been made during the last year. Iowa joined the ranks of right-to-carry states, while Arizona became the third state to allow concealed carry without a license or permit. Federal regulations prohibiting firearms in national parks have also been lifted.

Why is this all so damned important? That I will explain in a future post.