Mitch Berg loves guns and is delighted by Heller, the Supreme Court ruling striking down DC's anti-gun ordinance:
By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States today ruled in the Heller case that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is exactly what the founding fathers intended; that a right “of the people” means “people”, not “the National Guard”.
The court dealt forty years of erosion of civil liberties and contempt for the law-abiding citizen a sharp kick in the groin with pointy boots. The decision stands as the capstone on one of the most remarkable bits of grassroots politics in American history - a three-decade battle where the nation’s people, black and white and Republican and Democrat, fought their elites first to a standstill, and then came back to an escalating series of victories, starting in the courts of public opinion, extending through legislatures and city councils around the nation, to today.
Many liberal legal observers find the Scalia reading of the "ambiguous" Second Amendment strained and unpersuasive [as John Paul Stevens said]. In addition, it's long seemed weird to me to call the right to carry a gun a civil liberty. But I realize Mitch Berg disagrees with me; herewith, a few questions:
Long ago, I lived in Taiwan for almost a decade, where gun-related fatalities occur at less than 3% of the US rate. Gun ownership is severely restricted in Taiwan, a quite democratic island polity of 21m people, about one-sixth the size of Minnesota. I never met any citizen there who believed his civil liberties were paltry due to his inability to legally purchase a gun. In addition, Taiwan was, for decades, much praised and supported by the American political right, as a bastion of anticommunism and capitalism. And even among this right-wing crowd, I never heard any of Taiwan's American conservative supporters argue that civil liberties in Taiwan were unimpressive and insufficient, due to gun control. By refusing to criticize Taiwan for its highly restrictive anti-firearms laws, conservatives implicitly acknowledge that the individual's right to legally own a gun may be a fine policy preference, or an American peculiarity--but it is in no way a fundamental civil liberty, nor is it required for democracy to flourish.