Gangsters (or, The Country’s Going to Heller in a Handbasket)

June 30th, 2010

As reported in High court strikes down Chicago handgun ban ( 6/28/10 11:30), Gun rights case: Supreme Court rules on second amendment ( 6/28/10), and The right to bear arms, but… (Washington Post 6/29/10). 

“Today marks a great moment in American history. This is a landmark decision. It is a vindication for the great majority of American citizens who have always believed the Second Amendment was an individual right and freedom worth defending.” –NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre
“It is clear that the Framers… counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.” — Justice Alito writing for the 5-4 majority
“Given the empirical and local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people? What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?” – Justice Breyer dissent

Republicans love to talk about ““Chicago-style” politics

In an effort another negative label to Obama to affix.

They called BP’s creation of a $20 billion liability fund a “Chicago-style shakedown,”

Suggesting that gangsters are now running this town.

The right-wing echo chamber harkens back to the bad old days when armed gangs controlled the city,

A historical period that wasn’t pretty.

So why do Republicans want to go back

To the time when Chicagoan were under constant armed attack?

With McDonald v. Chicago, SCOTUS does to Chicago what they did in Heller to DC,

But McDonald’s much worse (in spite of Heller’s more direct impact on me).

It’s another split decision by the Court’s conservative wing

Who now add McDonald to their activist decision string.

Does it say something that it took 232 years since our nation’s founding

To give individual right to bear arms a Constitutional grounding?

It’s not activist to potentially overturn hundreds of state and local laws?

(So much for just calling strikes and balls.)

Since DC is under federal control, Heller applied only to federal laws,

Which in and of itself would give a less activist court pause.

But with this case, it’s extended nationwide to all states and localities,

Which will almost certainly lead to an increase in gun-related fatalities.

For years, “conservatives” have decried application of the 14th Amendment

To state and local government.

It’s ironic that they now use that same “due process” clause

To potentially overturn so many state and local laws.

“Conservatives” howled when “activist judges” infringed on state sovereignty,

But now that’s become their cup of tea.

Now that the right the Supreme Court controls,

Erstwhile judicial restrainers shamelessly advance their political goals.

26 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend (three died),

Yet the NRA argues we should let everyone have guns nationwide.

The people of Chicago have decided that in their case, that’s not true.

They want to regulate guns, but the Supreme Court won’t allow them to.

Do gun rightists really want nationwide open season?

Isn’t reducing gun violence a compelling local regulatory reason?

I think so, but I guess the Supreme Court disagrees.

But that’s nothing that can’t be solved by 2-3 new appointees.

In its concern for our freedoms, the Court forgot

About the freedom not to be shot.

Sorry for being so judgemental,

But I can think of little else so fundamental.

For more on judicial appointments and conflicting legal theories,

Click here to read the rest of our Supreme Court series.

It’s due time that the Court its long-standing traditions reaffirmed,

And that future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is confirmed.


Here’s Countdown’s 6/28/10 report on the McDonald decision.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s one (by Sen. Lyndsay Graham on CNN in Dec. 2009, attacking healthcare reform and the CLASS Act) of countless GOP references to the “Chicago-style politics” they’ve been trying to label Obama with. And remember how happy they were when Chicago lost the Olympics bid?

Here’s Stephen Colbert celebrating the decision – a “stark reminder of why Kagan’s nomination is so important.” He proposes that President Obama withdraw Kagan’s nomination and instead nominate his own “Sweetness.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Supreme Court Justice Sweetness
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

Here’s a scene from the most famous (and in my view best) gangster movie series ever, The Godfather. Is this what the Supreme Court wants to turn America’s cities into? Take note, right-wing echo chamber, that the movie takes place not in Chicago but in New York. But I guess that doesn’t fit your Obama-is-a-gangster narrative, does it? To help you reinforce those stereotypes, you may prefer this four volume collection of 1930s gangster movies.

And in honor of our Chicago/gun subject matter, here’s your theme music for today, We Both Reached for the Gun from the musical Chicago. The song’s ventriloquist dummy theme also brings to mind Congress’s relationship with the NRA in the latter’s guise to put a gun in every home, in spite of the unfortunate fact that guns kept at home are more likely to be used to kill a family member than in self-defense against an intruder.

Update 7/01/10: Here’s an excellent comment I came across that perfectly describes the issues.

“Let me see if Ive got this straight. Conservatives believe that big government is not the solution to a problem, big government IS the problem. That the government that governs least governs best. That the people closest to the problem are the ones who should be empowered to solve it. That states rights are sacrosanct. That one should interpret the intent of the founding fathers literally from the words they used to craft the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But now five activist conservative justices on the Supreme Court, none of whom has been elected by the people, decree from Washington that no municipality, county or state can ban handguns. The justices reason that the Second Amendment to the Constitution grants the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. One would think if that were the founding fathers intent, the founding fathers would have said so in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. But nowhere in the text of either document does the term self-defense appear. The Second Amendment, in its entirety, 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. So much for small government, states rights and the literal interpretation of the intent of the founding fathers.” — Rick Ragsdale ( 6/30/10 17:28)


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4 Responses to “Gangsters (or, The Country’s Going to Heller in a Handbasket)”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Activist Judges Says:

    […] Gangsters (or, The Country’s Going to Heller in a Handbasket) […]

  2. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Balls and Strikes (or, the Umpire Strikes Back) Says:

    […] second day of testimony about balls and strikes, followed by a (long) panel discussion of the McDonald gun rights decision and judicial activism. (The “balls and strikes” part is at the beginning for those who don’t […]

  3. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Gunsmoke Says:

    […] follow-up to Gun Nuts and Gangsters, inspired by What the ‘right to bear arms’ really means (Salon 1/15/11) and An enlightened, […]

  4. Newsericks » Blog Archive » No More Slippery Slope Says:

    […] Heller will any attempt at encroachment thwart. […]

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