Excuses; forthcoming

I realize that I’ve been particularly remiss in my web-logging duties of late. For this, I apologize. The school year has started off far more busily than I could have prognosticated: Already, I’ve a project due, tomorrow, in my studio; I serve as a teaching assistant; I have two other courses, both of which require some of my time; and I’m the editor-in-chief of The Terrapin Times, a paper in disarray: This job has taken quite a bit of my time. Fear not, though, loyal readers: The next few days, save tonight, as much of which as necessary I shall spend in the studio, I shall dedicate to at least some of the following, as well as whatever else strikes me fancy.

*Larison’s “Kosmopolitis Take Two”, in response to Helen’s “Does Veneration Really Wither on the Pavements?”, and my thoughts on urban conservatism, aristocratic populism, and the like.

*The subject matter of this Washington Post article. Really, a website called BedPost, which “was created to map users’ sex lives online — everything from partner to duration of the encounter to descriptive words, which could later be viewed as a tag cloud.” Is nothing sacred, beyond the totalitarianism of the computer? Have we no shame?

*More on the District’s battle to destroy the Second Amendment.

*Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment: Why we should.

*Conservative New Urbanism, I swear, and some urban planning news.

*Belgium, John McCain’s campaign slogan, and the need for precision in language


Vin Suprynowicz on the disastrous DC schools

Read it all here. This line from Cato’s Andrew Coulson that he quotes is incredible:

Instead, Mr. Coulson concludes, the failure to “think outside the box” leaves Washington’s parents, students, teachers, and even well-meaning reformers trying to “manage a bureaucracy so Byzantine it would give Rube Goldberg an aneurysm.”

Local self-rule, idiocy, and the Constitution (Or Indiana common-sense, part II)

I rarely use the word “hero” to describe any-one, but, specifically regarding the Second Amendment (and, by extension, that beautiful, neglected “goddamned piece of paper”), I’m starting to think that Dick Heller might live up to the name. The District has failed to adhere to the Court’s adjudication in Heller, leading, as I mentioned before, to the appellee’s second law-suit, and, now, to this letter to the Washington Post from Congressman Mark Souder (R-Ind. 3), whom I’ve actually come to respect, if not to like, his miserable party-line views on Iraq and too many other issues not-with-standing.

Sadly, since the announcement of the Heller decision, we have seen the D.C. Council continue to thumb its nose at the Constitution and defy a clear Supreme Court order by largely maintaining its draconian handgun ban.

Localist that I am, I sympathize with the people of Washington, whose license plates bear the statement “Taxation Without Representation”, who wish that they had more of a voice in politics, national and local. How-ever, my sympathy withers as I recall that the residents of our nation’s capital possess a perturbing predilection for putting into power positive putzes.

Souder continues, rightly enough,

Moreover, when Congress chose to delegate home rule to the District in the 1970s, it specified that legislation enacted by the District must be “consistent with the Constitution of the United States,” and it “reserve[d] the right, at any time, to exercise its constitutional authority as legislature for the District, by enacting legislation for the District on any subject.”

The time is now for Congress to step in to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans. [My emphasis. – NPO]

If ever exist an appropriate time for government’s protecting people from them-selves, it’s when that protection involves no-thing more than enforcing the guarantee of their Constitutional rights, even if the officials whom they elect, acting, presumably, as they people wish, determine that such is not the appropriate course of action.

“I swear to God I’m going to pistol whip the next guy who says ‘Shenanigans’!”

Dick Heller, of District of Columbia v. Heller fame, has, again, with two co-plaintiffs, filed a law-suit against D.C., “alleging that the District’s new gun registration is burdensome and continues to unlawfully outlaw most semiautomatic pistols.” I’m pretty sure that the following constitutes shenanigans:

In the District’s view, [acting District Attorney General] Nickles said, the ruling gives people the right to use firearms in self-defense but not the right to keep firearms loaded and ready for use in case the need for self-defense arises. As a result, he said, it is reasonable for the city to require that handguns be kept unloaded and disabled when the owner is not under a direct threat.

Be sure to use a revolver when whipping Nickles.

I’d offer my own commentary on the sheer absurdity of Nickels’ comments, but Heller’s attorney, Stephen P. Halbrook, handles the task smoothly:

Under the D.C. [law], a robber has to make an appointment with you so you can get your gun ready for him.

Unsatisfied, it seems, with the ineptitude and inability to understand the Supreme Court’s ruling displayed by other representatives of the District’s totalitarian government, Councilmen Phil Mendelson quipped, “I hope that people who agree with Mr. Heller will explain to us [at the hearing] what the best ways are to ensure safe storage.”

There once was a fool named Fenty,
who of brains cells lacked plenty.
Though he knew that they’d sue,
oh, what did he do?
He continued to run a police-state government-y.

Indiana Common-sense and D.C’s re-action to Heller

Having, long ago, cast aside any meaning-ful connections that I may have held to the ideology of the GOP, I’m not, by default, the biggest fan of Mark Souder, a U.S. Congressman from Indiana’s third district (even if he has a degree from my alma mater). Never-the-less, I’m happy to see him displaying some good old-fashioned Indiana common-sense:

“[The D.C. government’s] intent is basically to try to get around the court ruling,” Souder said. “In other words, ban the gun, keep all the strict registration, track all the ammunition and, in effect, keep a D.C. gun ban fully operating as if there hadn’t been a court decision.”

He’s pushed the congressional levers to force a vote on his bill to overturn the city’s ban of semiautomatic handguns, its registration requirements and its limits on ammunition.

Read the whole story in Fort Wayne, IN’s Journal Gazette, here.

Maybe some of what Souder wants to accomplish is a bit extreme, but he’s right on the money suggesting that Fenty and the people’s council wish to do their best to ignore the Court’s decision in Heller.

Guns, D.C. (crime), Police power, and the Constitution

As the Washington Post reports, the D.C. Council approved, last night, emergency legislation to end the city’s hand-gun ban, bringing the city (allegedly) into compliance with the Supreme Court’s Heller decision.

City leaders say the legislation goes as far as it can on gun regulations while respecting the high court’s ruling. Weapons must be unloaded, disassembled or trigger-locked, except when there is a “threat of immediate harm to a person” in the home.

I confess that, my passionate support of the right to bear arms not-with-standing, I can’t remember the last time I fired (or even held) my BB gun, let alone a rifle or shot-gun; I’ve never handled, much less fired, a hand-gun of any sort. This being the case, I can’t say that I know how quickly and easily, particularly under duress, some-one can load, assemble, or un-lock the trigger of his hand-gun. I suspect, though, that these are not the most quickly accomplished of tasks, especially when a “threat of immediate harm to a person” in the home exists. That is, I fear that the wording of the Council’s legislation essentially makes impotent the threatened gun owner who has complied there-with. Legally, he may not have his gun ready to be fired; he can only prepare it so once some-one poses an immediate threat to him, which, likely, makes, as I said, readying the gun all the more difficult.

Furthermore, this un-reasonable legislation seems, to me, to be quite un-enforceable. I mean this not in the sense that speed limits often are un-enforceable, simply because devoting sufficient man-power to this task would force police departments to neglect other, perhaps more imperative matters; rather, I suggest that, maybe, enforcement of this law is possible only if the Fourth Amendment, already savaged by FISA, is rendered wholly void. I should like to think that merely owning a legally registered hand-gun in the city suffices not to justify “probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation”. Then again, this is D.C., where . . .

Opponents of the gun ban say the new legislation and the city’s continued prohibition of semiautomatic weapons are not in accordance with the high court’s decision. Fenty (D) and council members, presenting a unified front on the gun ban, say they are prepared for lawsuits.

I’m neither so foolish nor insularly passionate about gun rights to contend that guns present no harm; in fact, I recognize that they present an immanent possible threat. How-ever, I also know that they can serve as protection against both tyranny and criminals. That a city so plagued by crime and illicit gun violence, despite the thirty-two-year-long ban on hand-guns, seemingly, had no choice but to resort, much to the perturbation of the ACLU, to military-style check-points in the Trinidad neighbor-hood, which experienced seven homicides, six-teen robberies and twenty assaults with dangerous weapons between the first of April and early June, would, I should think, suggest that, just maybe, the leaders of this city, who have, upon other occasions, exempli gratia, with respect to school vouchers and breaking the control of the teachers’ union, shown willing-ness to act intelligently, rather than ideologically (foolishly), ought to try allowing the good people of the District to exercise their Second Amendment right for the sake of their own lives. In-stead, they smugly concede to being ready for law-suits. Glad to know that Senator Obama includes such judicious politicians as Mayor Fenty amongst his supporters!

Even would the mayor and council relent, approving more (in my humble opinion) Constitutionally valid legislation with respect to hand-guns, the ineluctable Euclidian police power, to wit, zoning, almost stands athwart John Washingtonian’s quest legally to protect him-self and his clan, as my friend Rob Goodspeed, a recent graduate of my Community Planning program, notes here.

Just because the D.C. handgun ban has been overturned doesn’t mean you will ever be able to buy one in Washington. The reason? Zoning. This from the Wall Street Journal:

Washington has no federally licensed gun stores, so nowhere in the city can residents buy a handgun legally. Under federal law, buying one in neighboring Maryland or Virginia isn’t an option either. If gun dealers sell a firearm to a nonresident, they have to ship it to a licensed dealer in the purchaser’s home state, which then conducts the relevant background checks. “Without a dealer, there’s no place to ship the gun to,” said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It is unlikely that Washington will get any new dealers, either. Federal licensing requirements mandate that would-be dealers meet local guidelines and zoning ordinances. Representatives of each of the district’s eight council wards said they would vigorously oppose a gun shop in their area. They also said discussions had already begun over which regulations they might use to keep one from opening.

Rob continues

The only problem? As of now, D.C. Zoning Code says nothing about gun shops. Another issue to throw into the mix over in the D.C. zoning update …

I admit, right off the bat, that I am no Constitutional law scholar. How-ever, it seems to me that, ultimately, some-thing has to occur to allow gun shops to operate within the District’s boundaries. As much as the Supreme Court has ravished the Constitution in the name of police power (specifically, the Fifth Amendment, in Berman v. Parker and Kelo v. City of New London), the protections (in the Fifth Amendment case, against takings) still exist de jure, if only in a viciously restricted manner, if not de facto. By the same token, in light of Heller, I can-not imagine that any zoning enacted to prevent the operation of a gun shop, which, in effect, is the exercise of police power to prohibit the exercise of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, would with-stand a law-suit. How any other, non-zoning, ordinance might effectively preclude the opening of a gun store in Washington with-out suffering a similarly appropriate fate, I know not. I can only hope that, some-day, John Washingtonian can exercise the right properly to protect him-self, his family, and his property, against tyrant or thug, as guaranteed by the Constitution and affirmed by the Supreme Court, D.C. nanny-staters be damned.

On Helms, briefly

James summarizes things nicely, and the Schwenk follows suit. I shall leave the task of offering appropriate comments on Helms and his passing to these wiser gentlemen. Here, quickly, I just want to note that this line from today’s Washington Post troubles me, primarily because it’s true. It’s why I avoid the main-stream.

What his critics could not appreciate is that, by the time he left office, Jesse Helms had become a mainstream conservative. And it was not because Helms had moved toward the mainstream — it was because the mainstream moved toward him.