Why Should A Right Not Be A Right?

The course of the Minnesota Monitor has been an interesting one.

The MNMon is, and has always been, a bald-faced propaganda site, funded by “liberals with deep pockets” – after a year of official denials and stalling huffing and puffing, Eric Black admitted that there was some George Soros money in the mix.

When they started under original editor Robin “Rew” Marty, the Mon had a recent-college-grad-ish earnestness about it; it was a genial, sloppy production prone to dumb mistakes, but they seemed at least to mean well and to try, in most cases, to do a credible job. Paul Schmelzer, former “Media” reporter and one of the Mon’s few genuinely good writer/reporters, took over as editor (seemingly briefly), around the time Eric Black jumped from the Strib and classed up the joint for a bit; for a few months, the Monitor’s material was a source for discussion rather than derision.

And then, about the time Black bailed to go to the MNPost, they hired former City Pages editor and Daily Mold blogger Steve Perry. I and a fair chunk of the the local RealAmericansphere has been scratching our heads watching the hilarity ever since. Perry seems to have brought over a bunch of the City Pages less stellar exiles, and changed the site’s focus from semi-original reporting to screechy polemics seemingly copied word for word from pressure-group press releases and topped off with a dollop of shrill, giggly, usually ignorant commentary.

In other words – Soros et al have finally hired a genuine, respected journalist to run the Monitor – and he’s basically turned it into a rantblog.
If it were a good blog-with-a-different-name-and-lots-of-money, there’s at least a chance someone could have written something better than this comically-bad piece by Heather Maartens “Anna Pratt” on the Heller case.

The scare strikeout is (like, let’s face it, all scare strikeouts) very much on purpose; there is nothing about this piece (like the Monitor’s “coverage” of Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill), that doesn’t look like it wasn’t directly cribbed from a Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota press release.

When is a right right and when is a right… wrong? In this case, when does one’s “right to bear arms” also trespass on the rights of others?

This could only be written by someone who has not the faintest clue about this nation’s moral, intellectual, political or social history. It’s a symptom of this nation’s catastrophic ignorance about the humanities of our own history.
The answer is “Rights don’t trample on other peoples’ rights”. Your right – or Anna Pratt’s right – to free speech doesn’t trample mine. I have no right not to be offended or nauseated by someone else’s speech – but I do have the right to respond with better speech. Not that it takes much.

The law-abiding, responsible exercise of your God-given rights, by the very nature of “Rights” (as opposed to “privileges” and “entitlements”) can not “trample” anyone else’s rights.

Rights have responsibilities and limitations; we have free speech, but we may not yell “I’m lighting my farts” in a crowded theater; we may worship freely, but if your poisonous snake kills someone’s child, you might have some ‘splaining to do. Abusing ones’ right to keep and bear arms has serious consequences; ironically, it’s the Second Amendment movement that’s moved to make those consequences more sure and severe, while the anti-gun left has steadily sapped them.

But I digress.

I’m talking about the Supreme Court controversy regarding the constitutionality of the handgun law in Washington, D.C., where nary a gun is allowed, excepting those of police officers.On Tuesday, March 18, arguments for and against Washington D.C.’s handgun ban were presented in a federal appeals court.

Ms. Pratt? That “Federal Appeals Court” is called the “Supreme Court of the United States”.

I never, ever thought I’d say this, but…go ask Jeff Fecke how to read and fact-check your stuff? OK?

This comes after a lower court’s 2-1 vote last year took issue with the ban.

On the other hand, the “lower court” was a US Circuit Court of Appeals, which isn’t really all that “lower” by court standards.

Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if Anna Pratt (like Dan Haugen and Andy Birkey before her) is completely oblivious to the actual law and history involved, or if she’s just cribbing off a press release from Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota (whose ignorance of law and history is a matter of documented record) – but while the flubs above might be a result of bad reporting and fact-checking, the below is just plain made up from whole cloth.

That would reverse nearly 70 years of legal precedent.

And there’s the tell; this “article” is cribbed from CS“S”M.

Teaching moment, Anna: there is not 70 years of legal precedent. There is one case, US V. Miller, from 1939, which is open to widely-varying interpretations, which has only been mentioned in five subsequent cases, and which is notable in that neither the defendants nor their lawyers were actually able to show up at the SCOTUS hearing. To claim Miller is a clear precedent is the sort of wishful thinking that most of us shy away from, and that Heather Martens takes as her stock in trade.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which hasn’t gotten such play since 1791, states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”Heather Martens, president of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota (CSM), which lobbies for a public-health approach to prevent gun deaths and injuries, asserted in an email that a decision favoring the right to carry guns could “set off a deluge of legal actions across the country challenging every gun regulation there is, no matter how reasonable.”

Let’s take Heather Martens at her word – which, given that virtually everything she’s ever said on the subject has been a lie, is a bit of a gift.

So what?

The laws – as Pratt herself notes further down in the crib article – are doing no good anyway! Why not challenge them?

CSM is part of the Protect Minnesota campaign, a coalition of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, who are working to ensure background checks for gun purchases and safe gun use.

The “Protect Minnesota campaign” – like every anti-gun group in Minnesota, includign the “Million Mom March”, which might muster five or six “moms” for a protest these days – is an astroturf, checkbook advocacy group, and any Potemkin “gun owners” that are part of it are sock puppets, pets kept on the leash by “groups” like this.

Across the state, gun deaths and injuries are on the rise, according to campaign information.

Well, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Of course, it’s utterly meaningless; the deaths and injuries are being caused by criminals. And the Constitution doesn’t protect criminal activity!

But the Constitution would seem to be the least of Martens‘ Pratt’s concerns:

The Supreme Court debate recycles an old issue and as such, it is standing in the way of resolving firearm-related violence.

BAD Supreme Court! Get out of the way and quit interpreting the constitution!

Attention, Anna Pratt – “recycling old issues” is what the SCOTUS does!
I’m not sure who Anna Pratt is – but if Steve “Mister Furious” Perry’s goal is to turn the Minnesota Monitor into the dumbest rantblog in the state, she’s gonna be a great help!

CORRECTION: Foot pointed out that I, too, got a level of jurisprudence wrong. Fixed it. Suppose Anna Pratt will do the same?

20 thoughts on “Why Should A Right Not Be A Right?

  1. Rights have responsibilities and limitations; we have free speech, but we may not yell “I’m lighting my farts” in a crowded theater

    NOW you tell me.

  2. “a federal appeals court” – that’s beautiful. Phrase of the day, for sure.

  3. But, it’s really not all that different then MSM. I was in Iowa last week. Picked up a copy of the Des Moines Register. Their main editorial was a bizarre rant on how Spitzer did nothing wrong….that the only reason he got caught was because of President Bush’s secret spying on American citizens.

  4. On the other hand, the “lower court” was a US District Court, which isn’t really all that “lower” by court standards.

    Er, circuit court of appeals. Careful Mitch. District courts don’t issue 2-1 decisions.

  5. Putting aside the issue of whethe gun control is a good or bad thing, isn’t the argument that the 2nd amendment only bestows a collective right to arms a bit silly? That would mean that the government has the right to arm a militia without the government stopping it. Hardly seems that that would be worth enshrining in the Bill of rights.
    If the 2nd amendment gives the states the right to have an armed militia independent of the Federal government,then that’s kind of a moot point since the state militia’s, aka the National Guard, can be federalized with the stroke of a pen.

  6. The 1st and the 4th Amendments also specifically use the phrase “the right of the people” which refers to a specific INDIVIDUAL right. Lets see some screechy lefty defend that the the freedom of speech is a “group” right and not a individual right.

    Yeah, don’t hold your breath.

  7. jshandorf-
    I guess that means we only have a group right of protection against unreasonable search and seizure as well.

  8. No need to hold our breath. That was one of six-ten key points in Sanford Levinson’s Yale Law Review article “The Embarassing Second Amendment”, which is the tract that got the whole “Individual Right” movement started.

    The smart liberals get it. The dumb ones…well, they listen to Heather Martens.

  9. Terry said:

    “isn’t the argument that the 2nd amendment only bestows a collective right to arms a bit silly?”

    As silly as the argument the CDC used to get into the gun control racket:


    It could be called an “epidemic”, so they had to get involved. Wow, what can’t the CDC do…?

  10. It was interesting to listen to the ENTIRE debate on the 2nd amendment at SCOTUS, and how it both agreed with, and disagreed with, the presumptions Mitch (and others) make.


    Counsel for DC (forgot his name) “assuming we don’t incorporate (the 2nd amendment)” – enormously telling commentary – both that he understood there were vast implications if it were to be done – and that it was also clear that SCOTUS has no intent to do so.

    Solicitor General (Paul Clement) – point after point arguing that long guns and machine guns represented the type of weapon that would be ‘in common use’ in alignment with Miller 1939 – and implying Miller 1939 was something which HE at least, didn’t think was wrong – or should be entirely set aside.

    Scalia – making a comment that ‘type in common use’ COULD exclude machine guns – and Clement disagreeing – because in Scalia’s opinion those weapons weren’t common either at founding (or seemingly when Kruikshanks laid out some pivotal first points). Scalia asked some other, rather much better questions, but that point was daffy (at best).

    Clement (in response to Brayer) saying that clearly the second phrase was not – I think the term ‘de novo’ – from the first. The first clearly strongly bears on the second, but the second, in part, also stands alone when talking about personal defense (against Bears – laugh – wolves – bigger laugh – Indians) of the day – which was a point Roberts made, and Ginsberg and Breyer and Souter all generally agreed with.

    Alito and Scalia pointing out that the DC ban was effectively a total ban, because while the District might ALLOW the defense of home, the conditions under which weapons could be kept made such use extraordinarily unlikely – it was a good point, and one which Kennedy clearly agreed to.

    Roberts making the point that there could be a reasonable standard for restriction short of a ban – read that again boys and girls – there could be a reasonable restriction short of a ban.

    Alito and Clement disgreeing about whether the decision should be narrowly focused (or as the words were used, strictly interpreted), because of Clement’s full awareness that too strict an interpretation made it possible for civilians to own things beyone machine guns.. note to all you knee-jerks out there who didn’t think that point (I wrote about) was factual – it IS, and concerns the government pretty greatly – if you interpret NO INFRINGEMENT very literally. The government CLEARLY (by this I mean the administration) is concerned about opening pandora’s box – and argued for a very focused, very tight ruling on the DC ban, based on the premise of self-defense as a right inherent in the second clause of the 2nd amendment. It most certainly did NOT ask for, nor does it desire, a more broad reaching interpretation which might obviate nearly all other law. Scalia and Roberts seemed to think that a broad ranging interpretation wouldn’t have that result, and CLEARLY Clement disagreed. Scalia’s rather weird interpretation that ‘type in common use’ applied to weapons in use in 1787 was rather categorically refuted by both Clement and Brayer.

    Bottom line, you can expect a couple things, I think:

    1. The second amendment will remain unincorporated. Any definition will apply to federal law AND to DC, because it is stateless.

    2. The states will use the ruling as a guide.

    3. The ruling probably will be constrained to ruling that the right to own is BOTH tied to national defense (based on the first clause) and stands in part alone for personal defense.

    4. That the right to self-defense is the limiting feature – meaning restrictions of military grade weapons are most likely to stand – though for machine guns.. who knows? but for felons, or mentally unfit persons – the 2nd amendment will NOT be ruled to gaurantee that NO restrictions are permissable and all are unconstitutional.

    Bottom line part deux – the whole belly-aching of the right – if embraced- would be pretty unpalatable. By the same token, total bans embraced by the gun-fearing far left – is equally wrong and unpalatable. They will frame this decision in the sense of what is needed for national defense AND what is right for self-defense.

    But hey, the smart conservatives get it, apparently the dumb ones listen to Hugh Hewitt or Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh…

  11. They will frame this decision in the sense of what is needed for national defense AND what is right for self-defense.

    As long as they’re, err, pro-choice, I’m cool with it.

  12. Did someone ding someone else for being too verbose not too long ago?

    Just curious. 😉

  13. apparently the dumb ones

    Y’know, Peev, your overall comment was OK (if wrong on some particulars), and it’s not that I care, but while tossing an insult around is more or less de rigeur in comment sections, that was really kind of dumb.

    I’ll see your “Well, there’s five fingers pointing back at YOU, you HYPOCRITE, and why won’t you live up to the standards you set for OTHERS” and reject it in advance.


  14. peev is, I think, right on the subject of incorporation. Traditionally this has been done when specific cases that address the issue of incorporation are brought to the court. The SC could decide only the merits of the defacto ban on defensive use of arms in DC without saying a word about how the 2nd should apply to residents of New Jersey or wherever.
    I imagine that if that is how the court frames the decision, an incorporation case will quickly be brought up before a lower court, and it will quickly make its way up to the SC.

  15. I imagine that if that is how the court frames the decision, an incorporation case will quickly be brought up before a lower court, and it will quickly make its way up to the SC.

    I not only agree, but I have a pretty fair hunch that the Second Amendment movement is stocking up on test cases as we speak.

  16. Mitch, it was YOU who insulted liberals with the same verbiage, and, it wasn’t in your comments section, it was your original post. You are correct though, it is de rigeur for you to insult people in your posts, so I guess we have a good idea who the hypocrite is, don’t we?

    And if you don’t like being called a hypocrite, try stopping. Just a thought.

    On facts, you said I was wrong on a couple points, which ones? I don’t claim to have perfect recall, and much of my commentary was opinion, but I’d be interested to hear what you think was wrong?

    The bottom line, however, is that claims of universal prohibition against infringement, which the NRA and you righties have claimed for decades, both isn’t supported by THIS court, or THIS administration, and Miller 1939 (not Miller 1894 Mitch– you know – the case you tried to scold me on only making you look the fool?) is something both the court and the Solicitor General felt was at least in large part, sustainable decision.

    I doubt VERY highly that the court will take up incorporation of the 2nd amendment, it has nothing to do with the 14th or the 1st, and little to do with due process (which was the foundation of the 14th to 6th tie). Where is your hunch on them coming up with test cases coming from, Mitch? Or is that just rampant speculation framed in a guise of trying to look the expert on something analysis of the debate so clearly proved you aren’t?

  17. One other comment.

    Is Clarence Thomas sick? He asked NO questions. If he wasn’t sick, I offer to you again that your hero of jurisprudence is an empty suit. He seems to authors nearly nothing, makes no reasoned arguments..

    Was he out?

  18. Peev,

    I’ll dispatch most of your post shortly (the parts that arent’ self-dispatching).

    But give the whole “Miller v. Texas” thing a rest, will you? When talking about Second Amendment cases, when most people refer to Miller they’re talking about US V. Miller. When figuring influence on the courts’ view of the issue, on a scale of 1 to 10 US v… is an eight, Texas v… is about a 1. If you talk to anyone who’s interested in the subject, and say “miller” and ask them which case you just referred to, 99.9% will respond “US”.

    Oh, and as to insults: I attacked the Monitor’s reporting of this issue (among many others). That’s a bit different than whatever rote written chanting you’ve taken up.

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