I’ve got a bit of a dilemma here.
In trying to address the claims made in h this piece from Ian Millhiser in “Think” “Progress”, on a federal-level proposal for national reciprocity for carry permits, I faced a gnarly dilemma: do I do a piece on “Think” “Progress”‘s efforts to cull selectively through facts to try to trash a conservative initiative, or do I do a piece on the congenital liberal inability to think through an argument logically?
The answer, unfortunately, is “both”. Why choose?
The “National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act” has broad support in both chambers of Congress; Right-to-carry has been an untrammelled success throughout the United State for the past thirty years, with immense, intense support on both sides of the aisle at the federal and state level.
If the bill becomes law, it would allow nearly anyone to shop around for the one state that is willing to issue them a license to carry a concealed firearm, and then force other states to honor that license.
I’m not sure if Millhiser has really thought this through. For example, they indulge the “progressive” conceit of looking in mock horror at the “red” state gun laws…:
Many states’ licensing rules for concealed carry are shockingly lax. Florida, for example, issued 1,700 concealed carry permits to people with “criminal histories, arrest warrants, domestic violence injunctions and misdemeanor convictions for gun-related crimes.”
…while, leaving aside for a moment the fact that the Florida story is a bit of bogus scare-mongering – the issues cited didn’t involve convictions, or “gun-related” misdemeanors serious enough to warrant denying their permit applications – it shows both “Think” “Progress”‘s myopia and ignorance of facts; carry permit holders’ crime records in “lax” states like Florida  are statistically no less impeccable than those in “strict” states like New York or, for that matter, states requiring no permit from the law-abiding, like Alaska, Arizona and Vermont.
Because Illinois is the only state that does not have a concealed carry law, the NRA’s bill would render out-of-state visitors immune to every state but Illinois’ licensing laws — so long as they obtained a license from a state that practically gives them away.
Right. Because goodness knows if that happens, Illinois might get overwhelmed with gun violence or something.
OK,. back to my dilemma. We established above that “Think” “Progress” is, like most (but by no means all) liberals, clueless about the reality of guns rights. Now, it’s on to the whole “couldn’t do logic in the throes of a full-bore Vulcan Mind Meld” bit.
Because Millhiser wants to throw out fifty years of “progressive” social policy!
Yet… forcing New York to honor Florida’s poorly vetted carry licenses…flies directly in the face of the right’s professed views on the 10th Amendment’s guarantee of states rights. The NRA’s bill is a direct attack on each state’s ability to determine on its own how best to protect the public’s safety.
Ultimately, however, this kind of fair weather tentherism is nothing new. Conservatives hate federal regulation of health care, until they want to invalidate state tort law or immunize the insurance industry from state consumer protection law.
There is a difference – legally and, if you care about America’s history and liberties no matter what your political stripe, morally - between “human rights”, especially those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and the niggling impedimenta of government policy and regulation on issues that are, let’s just say, a tad less exalted in this nation’s legal canon.
This country decided – with the 13th Amendment and, also, the blood of 600,000 dead Americans – that the Bill of Rights’s exaltation of inalienable human rights trumps the states and, for that matter, The People. The Supreme Court, and generations of decisions pushed by generations of lawyers pushed for everyone from Dred Scott to the ACLU, has established that the states do not trump human rights.
Like the right to free speech and the press. Or freedom of (and, apparently, from) religion. And assembly. And unreasonable (whatever that means under the prevailing legal winds) search and seizures. And, now that Heller has been incorporated by McDonald, the right to keep and bear arms.
Health care? It’s not a constitutional right. It’s an entitlement; we can argue over whether it’s something that should be dealt with at the federal level, or that of any government, and indeed we have been arguing about it for the past two years, and I have a hunch we’ll renew it in 2013. And while “progressives” have used FDR’s courts’ bogus interpretations of the Commerce Clause to federalize a lot of things, there is no rational way you can say Health Care exists on the same plane as Speech and Jury Trials.
Most conservatives and libertarians recognize this distinction; we are more or less absolute (with prudent exceptions) on issues of human rights, and reserving lesser issues to the states. Most “progressives” blur it, but at least recognize (and push!) federal supremacy on civil liberties issues, as they constantly remind you.
…provided they’re not scary, like commoners with guns.
So Mr. Millhiser is mistaken when he writes…:
In other words, the right’s lockstep embrace of the NRA’s concealed carry bill is just one more example of conservatives’ willingness to claim that the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean.
…because, indeed, it’s Mr. Millhiser, not conservatives, with the case of moral confusion. Are human rights a federal issue, or not?
My stance is clear. Mr. Millhiser seems to want it both ways.
UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION: Why yes, my stance is in fact consistent. I believe that specifics of gun laws should be a state issue, provided that they are consistent with the idea that the right to keep and bear arms is a right “of the people”. Most state qualify, although I personally campaign for more “liberalization”. Illinois’ law does not qualify.