But who will protect the right to be urban and sophisticated?

Yesterday was not a great day for the forces of gun control. Ed Rendell's extraordinary attempt to pressure the Pennsylvania legislature failed, and the Supreme Court voted to hear District of Columbia v. Heller.

On today's front page, the Philadelphia Inquirer carries Linda Greenhouse's New York Times report.


Ms. Greenhouse (known at least as much for gratuitous attacks on conservatives as for her legal journalism desire to influence the Supreme Court) characterizes the lower court's decision as anomalous, and paints the plaintiff as contrived, if not kooky:

The federal appeals court here, breaking with the great majority of federal courts to have examined the issue over the decades, ruled last March that the Second Amendment right was an individual one, not tied to service in a militia, and that the District of Columbia's categorical ban on handguns was therefore unconstitutional.

Both the District of Columbia government and the winning plaintiff, Dick Anthony Heller, a security officer, urged the justices to review the decision. Mr. Heller, who carries a gun while on duty guarding the federal building that houses the administrative offices of the federal court system, wants to be able to keep his gun at home for self-defense.

Mr. Heller was one of six plaintiffs recruited by a wealthy libertarian lawyer, Robert A. Levy, who created and financed the lawsuit for the purpose of getting a Second Amendment case before the Supreme Court.

I'm wondering about something. Were she writing up an affirmative action/workplace discrimination case, would Ms. Greenhouse interject that a plaintiff had been "recruited" by a "wealthy liberal lawyer"?

I doubt it.

For people who want some more serious discussion, Glenn Reynolds has:

  • an article in today's New York Post (eat your heart out, Linda!)
  • a podcast interview on the Glenn and Helen Show with Bob Levy, (who Glenn describes not as a rich kook, but as a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute)
  • Fascinating background material here (some of which I discussed yesterday)
  • An initial roundup here, plus a roundup of legal reactions.
  • reactions from presidential candidates.
  • I find it fascinating that this might actually prompt a Sister Souljah moment from Hillary Clinton, and I tend to agree with Bill Quick:
    I think Hillary will have a Sister Souljah moment and come out in support of an individual rights interpretation. In my leftist days, the New Left certainly felt that way. None of us supported disarming the Black Panthers. And, frankly, Kos isn't exactly a hotbed of anti-gun fervor, given that a strong stream of opinion there believes they will have to take up arms to protect themselves from us Fascists.
    It was that way when I was in college at Berkeley in the early 70s. Lots of leftish hippies had guns. And in my law school days when San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein tried to ban guns, there was a unique alliance between far left hippies, libertarians, gays, and traditional conservatives to get the ban overturned (as well as a Feinstein recall campaign, which I supported in whatever category I fit at the time).

    It's worth noting that even the far-left Ted Rall believes in the the Second Amendment, and he has long urged the Democrats to embrace the issue:

    Democrats, however, still need to make the libertarian case. That's where guns come in. Accepting and promising to defend the Constitution as a whole, including the Second Amendment, could jumpstart the return of the American left from the fringe to the mainstream. Kerry's endorsement of gun rights would not only neutralize a key GOP values issue; it would serve as a cultural signifier that he doesn't view hunters and other gun aficionados with (as Democratic political consultant David Sweet put it) "an urban, sophisticated mentality that sneers at their way of life."
    Geez, does that make Linda Greenhouse a sophisticated urban sneerer? Where does she think her right to sneer comes from?

    It's very easy for sophisticated people to sneer at the rights of "gun nuts." I grew up here on the East Coast, and watched the phenomenon evolve. In fact, I even saw it first hand, applied in a very petty way by a very "sophisticated" neighbor, when she told my mother that she didn't want her son to come over and play with me as long as my mom allowed me to have toy guns (which in her view needed to be shunned by mothers who knew better). This was shortly after the Kennedy assassination, when I was around eight years old and into the "playing soldier" phase. My mom was quite disturbed by this, because the woman (whose family was headed by a famous New Deal aristocrat) outranked her socially, and I remember my parents discussing it at the dinner table. My father took the "boys will be boys" line and advised my mom to ignore it, but I did lose a friend, and it wasn't really his fault or mine.

    It was the new "sophistication." Little did I know that I was witnessing the emergence of one form of what I now call "manufactured morality."

    Then as now, the ruling class snobs knew what was best.

    MORE: In his New York Post column, Glenn notes that this issue might not break as neatly along political lines as the common wisdom might expect:

    It's also probably bad for Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who have generally been less supportive of gun rights than the other GOP contenders. But maybe Hillary Clinton will prove flexible: Bill Clinton said that the gun issue cost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994, and Hillary no doubt remembers that.
    Well, that would be classic triangulation: take away an issue from the "other side." But considering that Hillary's Second Amendment record is worse than Giuliani's or Romney's, would it be honest?

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link! And special Thanksgiving thanks to all commenters.

    posted by Eric on 11.21.07 at 09:11 AM


    The only 'honest' you should expect from Hillary is "I will do whatever gets me the most benefit with the least problems from the nutroots." If she thinks having a revelation on the 2nd will get her more benefit than problems, why, she'll be hearing a heavenly chorus any time now!

    Firehand   ·  November 21, 2007 11:00 AM

    So Levy "created" the lawsuit?

    Did Greenhouse ever accuse Milberg, Weiss of "creating" its class actions?

    NCC   ·  November 21, 2007 5:19 PM

    Among all our other blessings, we can be thankful for yesterday's rout of the forces of gun control. May it continue. May reason and good sense march onward.

    Flash Gordon   ·  November 21, 2007 5:32 PM

    I disagree with Bill Quick. Hillary, as well as most other devout Marxists, worship the State and detest individual ownership of pretty much anything [exceptions, of course, for those in power]. The top tier of the Democratic Party is very unlikely to support any individual rights, other than the right to exterminate fetuses.

    Henry Bowman   ·  November 21, 2007 6:31 PM

    Mrs. Clinton may very well hate private ownership of guns. She may even want all gun owners thrown into the crucuble in which they will belt those guns. That has nothing to do with what she will say on the campaign trail. Notice the size of that Bible they dragged in and out of church during Monicagate.

    Peter   ·  November 21, 2007 6:48 PM

    Considering the Clinton administration's extremely hostile posture towards gun owners, why the hell are people trying to convince me that Clinton Mk II will be 180 degrees out? I call BS.

    These people (by which I mean the sneering coastal elites) have already demonstrated their larcenous impulses, their contempt for property rights, and their casual, tactical approach to facts. We need to ask why they find it so important to disarm all of us.

    Well, it won't do any good to ask them directly, in view of my description of them above. As for myself, I am assuming the worst possible interpretation.

    Steve Skubinna   ·  November 21, 2007 7:17 PM

    Many of the lawsuits that changed America were setups. Brown v Board of Education, Rosa Parks etc The ACLU still routinely advertises for plaintiffs in order to test laws it disapproves of. Trolling for plaintiffs is an old tradition.

    Gun control is rooted in the elitist assumption that ordinary, law abiding citizens are to stupid to safely keep firearms. When someone advocates gun control they are making an implicit statement that they think you are a moron.

    Shannon Love   ·  November 21, 2007 8:50 PM

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    cutljy osreg   ·  December 12, 2007 2:28 PM

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