Some of us are well past ‘rankled’

A Washington Post article today says that some gun rights activists (although the article uses the somewhat dismissive term of “gun enthusiasts”–as if the palladium of liberty were a mere hobby) are “rankled” about the Bush administration’s position on the District of Columbia v. Heller case, as outlined in the amicus brief submitted by solicitor general Paul Clement.

The government’s brief, filed by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement just hours before the court’s deadline Jan. 11, endorses the view that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to gun ownership, a finding long sought by gun rights activists.

But it also said an appeals court used the wrong standard when it struck down the District’s ban on private handgun ownership, and it urged the Supreme Court to return the case to the lower court for review.

What makes that more than “ranklesome” is the fact that the administration is claiming that a law regulating a Constitutionally protected fundamental human right–one that shall not be infringed–be subjected to anything less than the strictest scrutiny. The article quotes David Kopel summing up the position of gun rights advocates quite nicely.

David B. Kopel, an associate policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, said that President Bush was elected in part because of the passion of gun rights activists and that “the citizen activists would never have spent all those hours volunteering for a candidate whose position on the constitutionality of a handgun ban was ‘maybe.’ “

But fear not! Not everyone is “rankled”–some are quite pleased.

On the other side, Sanford Levinson, a liberal constitutional scholar at the University of Texas who believes that the Second Amendment protects individual rights, called the administration’s position “a gift to the Democratic Party” and urged his party’s presidential candidates to embrace it.

The view that the amendment guarantees gun ownership subject to reasonable government restrictions is one that most voters would endorse, Levinson said. In a debate last week in Nevada, all three major Democratic candidates pledged their fealty to the Second Amendment — “People have a right to bear arms,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) said — although none mentioned the District’s handgun ban.

The D.C. legal team is also “gratified,” and the Brady Bunch’s Paul Helmke “salutes” the administration for arguing that shall not be infringed actually means that . . . the government can infringe it whenever it suits them.

Yesterday, by the way, War on Guns spotted this . . . curious explanation from the Heritage Foundation of why we shouldn’t be so “rankled.”

Those who understood the department’s dual obligations–to defend the Constitution and also to preserve federal power and federal statutes where possible–knew that some attempt at baby-splitting was likely. Serious originalists are correct that the government’s brief erred in the line it tried to draw and went unreasonably far in its attempt to preserve government power, but what the government concedes is far more important. And like the original solution proposed by King Solomon, the Solicitor General’s solution so threatens the viability of the individual right that it will be quickly rejected by anyone who cherishes such rights.

So if I’m following that correctly, the Heritage Foundation acknowledges that the DoJ’s advocacy of an application of a standard of less than strict scrutiny of laws regulating the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is wrong, but the argument is made so ineffectively that we shouldn’t worry about it.

Oh, well that’s a relief–as long as the aspiring tyrants argue their case for tyranny incompetently, it’s not a problem.

Why, then, am I still “rankled” enough to be on board with this?

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