Printed letters, May 28, 2013

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“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”.  However, according to Justice Scalia in Heller, “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited – i.e., can be “infringed”—by “prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons”.

Thus, readers familiar with such inconsistent interpretations of the Second Amendment should welcome the participation of Sheriff Stan Hilkey, et al., in the constitutional challenge to Colorado’s recently enacted “gun laws” – even if doing so is arguably “unethical”—particularly when they are doing so at minimal taxpayer expense (assuming that Attorney General John Suthers diligently defends the statutes’ constitutionality).

As public officials sworn to uphold both the state and national Constitutions, the Sheriffs deserve an unambiguous determination of “what the law is” – and will be indisputably bound thereby.  As elected officials answerable to voters, they are understandably inclined to embrace the views of their most ardent supporters.  As law enforcement officers, the public relations benefit of their participation may even protect their subordinates by preventing confrontations with constituents armed with “assault rifles”.

In Heller, Justice Scalia effectively erased the “prefatory clause” from the Founders’ text by giving it no practical effect.  Nevertheless, the Second Amendment is totally silent as to the government’s authority to regulate the design, manufacture, and sale of “arms” in interstate commerce and does not limit its power to tax them under Article I, Section 8.
Thus, limiting the size of magazines should pose no constitutional issue.

Likewise, while the Second Amendment guarantees (most) citizens the right to “keep and bear arms” (at least for self-defense), nothing therein constrains governmental power to “regulate” how such “arms” are acquired.  Therefore, minimally intrusive “universal” background checks for all gun sales (to prevent criminals, terrorists, and the insane from legally acquiring “arms”) are well within the bounds of constitutionality.

Hopefully, by resolving ambiguities in Second Amendment jurisprudence, the Sheriffs’ lawsuit will contribute a valuable public service – but not achieve the result they desire.

Contrary to Bill Forbes’ purportedly “independent” critique—“Affordable Care Act forces a particular kind of commerce” (May 28, 2013)—of Jim Spehar’s recent column, Forbes parrots all-to-familiar “conservative” talking points.

Thus, in his Benghazi hearings, Congressman Darrell Issa cynically evinced partisan contempt for any genuine truth-finding purpose of his “oversight” committee by refusing to call witnesses requested by Democratic members and preventing those with knowledge of the facts – like Ambassador Pickering—from testifying publicly.

Likewise, Issa’s investigation revealed that the IRS had been misapplying the law as to tax-exempt organizations for years – to the benefit of purported “social welfare” groups claiming to have been “targeted” as “conservative” (rather than “flagged” as “political”).

Similarly, while oil and gas companies are subject to criminal and civil penalties under federal statutes for spill-caused bird kills, wind farms are not liable – because those laws require “knowing” or “wanton disregard” for eagles and/or migratory birds.  Meanwhile, some 100,000,000 birds are killed annually by flying into windows.

Lawfully subpoenaing phone records of reporters implicated in national security “leak” investigations (as Republicans vocally demand) pushes the limits of the First Amendment and may justify more robust federal press “shield” laws (which Republicans oppose).

Meanwhile, “the Affordable Care Act forces a particular kind of” long-overdue and much-needed competition within our “free enterprise”, for-profit health care “system”. 

Thus, even though Time Magazine has comprehensively chronicled “Why Medical Bills are Killing Us” (March 4, 2013), Republicans still seek to sabotage “ObamaCare”.

Recently, California demonstrated that premiums for basic medical insurance coverage under ObamaCare’s cooperatively operated state insurance exchanges will likely be much lower than previously predicted.  Rather, competition between health insurers for new customers generated by those exchanges will both hold down premium rates and, in turn, incentivize health insurers to demand that providers stop overcharging them.



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