Crackpot court

By EDITORIAL  |  July 2, 2008

Fortunately, Americans have lately been making Republicans pay for the consequences of their idiotic theories — consequences that range from climate change to ballooning national debt and a needless, bloody war. Hopefully, they will make McCain pay for his recent shift to the radical right.

Regardless, the die is now cast on gun control. With the newly created constitutional right to carry weapons for self-defense — a right Scalia explicitly equates with the protection against warrantless search and seizure, and the right to peaceably assemble — current gun regulations will almost certainly collapse. Indeed, our own state’s laws are now very much in jeopardy. (For other views on this, see “Supreme Court Makes Gun Laws Target for Debate,” This Just In, page 6.)

Scalia’s glib statement that, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” glosses over the extraordinary weight of constitutional guarantees. (Perhaps that’s not surprising, coming from someone who denies that habeas corpus extends to detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, and withholds from a student holding a BONG HITS 4 JESUS sign the right to free speech.) It seems likely, as some legal analysts have already noted, that this new right will have to extend to felons, to public places (including schools), and to ever more dangerous weaponry.

As Stevens points out in his dissent, the majority justices have now tied the hands of legislatures and law-enforcement professionals in this country. This comes just as Boston’s gun violence has taken a huge early-summer surge: at least 27 people were shot — three of them fatally — in the last 17 days of June. The victims include a baby girl and, most recently, a young boy shot while playing with friends.

Perhaps the gun-rights advocates will be proven right, and the end of gun regulation will somehow result in a safer country. We’ll have to hope so, because there’s nothing we can do to go back now — short of amending the Constitution.

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