The ACLU Defends Gun Rights

Since I live in Texas, I'm embarrassed to say I was not aware of this story until I saw it in yesterday's New York Times: The ACLU of Texas has joined with the Texas State Rifle Association and the NRA to fight local prosecutors who are defying a law aimed at protecting law-abiding Texans from being arrested for having guns in their cars. State law has long exempted people who have guns in their vehicles while "traveling" from being prosecuted for unlawful carrying of a weapon (UCW), an offense punishable by up to a year in jail. But the definition of "traveling" was fuzzy, leaving gun owners vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and conviction, depending on how police officers, prosecutors, and judges decided to read and apply the law. In 2005, at the urging of the gun groups and the state ACLU, the legislature passed a law that creates a presumption of "traveling" for any motorist in a private vehicle who is not legally disqualified from owning a gun, does not belong to "a criminal street gang," is not engaged in criminal activity (beyond minor traffic infractions), and is not carrying the gun in plain view. But in a report issued last February, the ACLU of Texas, the Texas State Rifle Association, and the Texas Criminal Justice Association showed that many district and county attorneys are instructing police to carry on as before, arresting motorists for UCW at their discretion and letting prosecutors and judges sort things out.

Given its mission, the ACLU certainly should be fighting such lawless harassment of innocent people. But it is notable that the gun angle did not prevent the Texas chapter from getting involved, despite the national organization's position that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms. Since it does not believe the Second Amendment imposes any limits on the government's authority to restrict possession of guns, the national ACLU has never challenged gun control laws. By contrast, the ACLU of Texas supported statutory changes aimed at allowing law-abiding Texans to keep guns in their cars, whether for self-defense or while on the way to and from the shooting range, and now it is monitoring enforcement of the changes and recommending further revisions to ensure that the legislature's intent is implemented.

Scott Henson, who testified in favor of the "traveling" law on behalf of the ACLU, has background over at Grits for Breakfast here, here, and here

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  • ||

    Huh.

    Well.

    Now then.

    Wonder if I can join the Texas chapter of the ACLU?

  • ||

    Jacob-

    I've noticed that since you've made the move to Tejas, you've been reporting more on RKBA (right to keep and bear arms) issues.

    Have you decided to arm up?

    Texas has a lot of competitive shooting opportunities as well.

  • ||

    mediageek

    Wonder if I can join the Texas chapter of the ACLU?

    Just join up and you'll be a member of your own state's chapter.

    The ACLU is a quite open and democratic organization. If the right people made the right noises they could very easily sway their local ACLU in a pro-2nd Amendment direction.

  • ||

    I see no conflict between a collective-right 2nd Am. interpretation and taking an issue with blatant police harassment. I'd have to see more to believe that the Texas ACLU is changing it's view on the 2nd Am.

  • ||

    Quick! Someone send Satan a sweater!
    (wouldn't want the poor bugger to freeze to death now would we)

  • ||

    I wouldn't want a cent of mine to go to the national chapter. Sure, they do a lot of great cases, and I support them the majority of the time. But on some issues, like the 2nd Amendment, I find their rationale to be too sleazy and lawyerly to be taken seriously. The truth is that they just don't like guns, and so they've formed their opinion around that basic fact. They cite to a Supreme Court case saying that guns are not an individual right, then they explain that the States were allowed to have militias to fight the central government, and so the 2nd Amendment really doesn't have any applicability today.

    Of course, at the time of the constitution, their precious gay rights were unheard of, women were like property, blacks were property, etc., but the ACLU says there can be no modern understanding of the 2nd Amendment. They pick and choose like a bunch of _________.

  • John||

    Liberal sheep detected.

  • ||

    A version of this problem has confronted travelers through New Jersey for many years. NJ bans just about any type of firearm and ammunition you can think of. Under the 1986 Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA, and the name is not exactly representative of the law's effects), Federal law protects those traveling with firearms through States in which they would be otherwise illegal, if the traveler is going to another state from a third state (just passing through).

    New Jersey's position for years was to arrest/prosecute any (out of state) people found traveling with firearms (unregistered with NJ, illegal, etc) regardless of the Federal law. States' rights in action, right?

    Anyway, traditionally what would happen is that the defendant, once arrested, would get an attorney, who would get with the Feds, who would issue a writ of habeas corpus to NJ, who would turn over the defendant to the Feds, who would decline to prosecute.

    Then the firearms owner would be free, but would usually be out the firearms that had been confiscated by NJ.

    Given the recent disrepair into which the concept of HC has fallen with the Justice Department, I certainly wouldn't want to bank on the Feds bailing me out of a situation in NJ.

    Hence yet another reason I avoid New Jersey at all costs.

  • ||

    So, even with a frivolous prosecution and an almost immediate and automatic dismissal, the scumbags can still keep the gun and charge the accused for the cost of towing and impounding their car?!!!

  • ||

    I spent a summer in New Jersey when I had a college internship.

    Before going out there, I read up on their laws, and was dismayed to find out that my plans to bring my single-shot, manually-operated .17 caliber match-grade air pistol would put me in serious violation of the law.

    I went three months without pulling a trigger.

    Man was I grumpy.

  • ||

    Rimfax:

    In short, yep. Separate legal proceedings are required to recover confiscated property (if it even hasn't been sold or destroyed by the time the defendant is free).

  • ||

    I can't understand the ACLU hate, Lamar. It's not as if they go to court to overturn shall-issue laws, or to get gun control imposed. They just don't argue any position on it.

    Would you refuse to join Cosco, the Coast Guard, the American Psychological Association, or the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association? They appear to put exactly as much effort as the ACLU into 2nd Amendment issues.

  • Paul||

    What have you done with the real ACLU?

  • Paul||

    the American Psychological Association, or the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association? They appear to put exactly as much effort as the ACLU into 2nd Amendment issues.

    joe nailed it. The ACLU usually has about as much concern for the constitution in toto as does the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association. Which is why those of us that have a fondness for, you know, the entire bill of rights tend to look dimly on the ACLU's fair weather friendship of the Constitution.

  • ||

    I think this more of a Due Process quetions rather than a 2nd Amendment question. The law seems to allow something, but it is impossible to know whether what you are doing is within the law. Criminal law supposes that everyone has constructive notice of the law, and one will be convicted of a crime whether or not that person had actual notice. In the case of this law, it is impossible to have constructive notice, and enforcement will be arbitrary.

  • ||

    So, Paul, do you on principle refuse to join every group that doesn't argue every position you agree with, to exactly the extent you want them to?

  • ||

    "The ACLU usually has about as much concern for the constitution in toto as does the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association."

    Uh, no, Paul, that's not even remotely accurate.

    The South Lawndale Neighborhood Association probably pushes for 0% of what you're calling "the constitution in toto." Depending on your opinion about zoning permits, they are probably in the negative figures, becasue they probably show up and argue against landowners doing what they want with their property at zoning board meetings.

    The ACLU, on the other hand, probably argues for 90-95% of what you're calling "the Constitution in toto," and doesn't argue a single position you're opposed to. How, exactly, does this make them your opponent?

  • ||

    "Cosco, the Coast Guard, the American Psychological Association"

    No, no, and no. But I get your point. My beef is that the ACLU takes its stance on guns for political/fundraising reasons. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they do a lot of what they do. But I can't stand behind them philosophically because, it seems to me, their philosophy is internally inconsistent. "We're for greater civil liberties, except when we aren't." And I am all too familiar with their 2nd Amendment argument. My problem is that if the Supreme Court limits speech, does the ACLU just throw up its arms and say "SCOTUS says this is the law" or do they fight? With the 2nd Amendment, they just throw up their arms, and don't even fake a fight. That's why this case is so cool.

  • highnumber||

    Help me get this straight:

    The NRA is impeding gun rights while the ACLU is promoting gun rights?

    What's next - MADD chapters hosting keggers while college frats host AA meetings?
    The NYT supporting the troop surge while the WSJ calls for higher taxes?
    tros defending the mentally challenged while TWC cracks open a beer?

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Good points. I agree with you and joe that ACLU has some very good positions on most issues. That said, I don't even support the NRA because I don't feel that they go far enough to protect the rights of people to own firearms.

    As to the question of whether i would join another organization that did not argue for the RKBA to the extent I feel appropriate, that depends. The Homeowners' Association's charter most likely does not contain language that obligates it to fight for civil liberties. Nor does the Coast Guard, nor the APA.

    It's a question of scope. If fighting for RKBA is outside the scope of an organization, I don't fault them for not doing so. Because the ACLU is chartered to enhance civil liberties, and I believe RKBA is an essential civil liberty, I feel they fail my test for support (I know, I should join and try to change that...). Similarly, NRA is chartered in part to fight to preserve RKBA, but I feel they are too bound up in lobbying culture and do not fight the battles I want fought, so I don't support them either.

  • Paul||

    So, Paul, do you on principle refuse to join every group that doesn't argue every position you agree with, to exactly the extent you want them to?

    Well...yeah.

  • Paul||

    "The ACLU usually has about as much concern for the constitution in toto as does the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association."

    Uh, no, Paul, that's not even remotely accurate.

    Joe,

    It's Friday and even now, you exhibit no sense of humor. You're merely playing into the hands of the regulars here. I'm helpin' ya here, joe.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    (the ACLU) "doesn't argue a single position you're opposed to"

    Didn't realise we have so many people here who support racial discrimination and the defacing of county courthouses.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    Defacing a veterans' cemetery is still at the top of their priority list.

    Maintaining racial quotas in public schools too.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    still reading the ACLU site........

    They oppose "profiling" based on national origin,
    ethnicity, or religion in the war on militant Islam.

    They seem to hold Bush responsible for using law passed by a Democrat Congress and signed by Bill Clinton.I'm against the State having this power for anything beyond prosecuting a war against foreign nationals-what the Bush administration is using it for. The Dems passed it as a domestic law enforcement initiative.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    Read it yourself
    see what the ACLU is up to at their intertube site

    http://www.aclu.org/index.html

  • ||

    How does one go hunting in Tejas, is one can not carry his gun in his car? 20 years ago, when I lived in Texas it was mandatory to carry a rifle and a bull whip in the rifle rack in the back window of one's pickup. Please, say it hasn't changed?

  • ||

    Grits for Breakfast

    I just want to say that one of the few things I love more than guns is grits. Mmmm, grits'n bacon. Got damn.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Would you refuse to join Cosco, the Coast Guard, the American Psychological Association, or the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association?

    You bet! Cosco wants me to buy paper towels by the pallet, the APA is filled with mental cases and the SLNA wants me to mow my lawn more often.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    THUD

    Falls out of exec chair, hits head on desk.

  • ||

    Would you refuse to join Cosco, the Coast Guard, the American Psychological Association, or the South Lawndale Neighborhood Association? They appear to put exactly as much effort as the ACLU into 2nd Amendment issues.

    In all fairness, joe, you have to consider the fact that of all the entities you mentioned the ACLU is the only one that claims as its mission the defense of Civil Liberties.

  • Nadine Strossen||

    Putting all that aside, I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.

  • anonymous coward||

    When it comes to school choice, the ACLU's position is opposed to it. Supposedly it's some principled position that people shouldn't be forced to fund activities with which they disagree (unless it's the public schools?).

    But when it comes to abortion, they want to screw those who are opposed to it.

    What about those who are morally or religiously opposed to abortion?

    Our tax dollars fund many programs that individual people oppose. For example, those who oppose war on moral or religious grounds pay taxes that are applied to military programs.



    Blatant hypocrisy, and f*** the ACLU.

  • \"Absolutist Politics in a Mod||

    Finally, there are many organizations that endorse gun prohibition but are not primarily concerned with the gun issue. For example, Common Cause is probably best known for its efforts to reform campaign financing. However, in a 1972 statement presented to a House Judiciary Subcommittee, the organization endorsed a "total ban on the sale and manufacture of all handguns" as well as a proposal that "private ownership of handguns also be prohibited." Likewise the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Democratic Action, the National Alliance for Safer Cities, the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A., and the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union have all at some time endorsed banning the private possession of handguns. 37

    ...

    37. Gottlieb, The Gun Grabbers, 97; Joseph D. Alviani and William R. Drake, Handgun Control...Issues and Alternatives (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1975), 45-46. The ACLU has explicitly abandoned support for prohibition, or for any form of gun control.

    http://www.saf.org/JFPP13ch1.htm (HTML)

    http://saf.org/jfpp/jfpp13.pdf (PDF, 1 MB)


  • thoreau||

    OK, thought experiment:

    Let's say that the ACLU changed its self-description somewhat, and said something to the effect of "We're here to litigate cases related to the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, sometimes 9th, and sometimes other amendments." Now, I think just about everybody here would agree that those amendments are important. How many of the "But they don't like the 2nd amendment!" crowd would join?

    Now, if you want to object to their position on racial discrimination, or some other issue where they actively push a stance that you disagree with, well, fair enough. If they're doing something that you don't like, then depending on how high that issue is on your list of priorities it makes perfect sense not to join. But that's not the issue here. The issue here is that people are upset because they don't take 2nd amendment cases.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that, as this case demonstrates, there's a big difference between the national ACLU and the local organizations. Sometimes the state/local organizations might be better (e.g. this TX gun issue). Other times the state/local organizations might be worse. For instance, AFAIK the annual tradition of taking down a City Hall Christmas Tree is usually initiated by a local affiliate, not the national organization. (If you want to get really nitpicky here, it's worth noting that they are objecting to a public expenditure, but I think most would say that the City Hall Christmas Tree is hardly the most pressing civil liberties issue facing us.)

    Anyway, I recently joined the NRA, even though they focus most of their activity on only one amendment. I don't see it as a problem. Just as I don't object to the ACLU only focusing on certain amendments. For that matter, I'm thinking of making a donation to the Institute for Justice, even though they mostly (but not exclusively, of course) focus on economic issues.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    From the ACLU website (link provided by SIV):

    The (WalMart) policy shift came in response to Planned Parenthood Federation of America's "Fill My Pills Now!" campaign, in which the ACLU of Florida participated.

    Neither ACLU nor Planned Parenthood see any moral or ethical inconsistency in spending Catholic tax dollars to promote contraceptive rights.

    Rank hypocrisy in my book.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The Nadine Strossen quote illustrates well the mindset of the ACLU. Actually, she is right, but she's right for the wrong reasons. A principled person can easily observe that Constitutional doesn't necessarily equate to moral or ethical.

    Unfortunately the philosophy of the ACLU has never advanced past that of the 5th Grade yard duty supervisor who scolds the kids and tells them to play fair. And that is exactly the philosophical depth of the ACLU that Strossen betrays with that remark.

    I quit supporting Amnesty International for very similar reasons.

  • ||

    TWC, how'd they spend tax dollars in that instance?

  • Grotius||

    thoreau,

    If they're doing something that you don't like, then depending on how high that issue is on your list of priorities it makes perfect sense not to join. But that's not the issue here. The issue here is that people are upset because they don't take 2nd amendment cases.

    Even by the measure of your own argument they are doing something which people don't like.

    Anyway, according to the post at 10:18 they have "endorsed banning the private possession of handguns."

  • Grotius||

    One of the main problems I have with a lot of advocacy groups* is the scare language so often associated with the mass mailing literature of such organizations. (A) It is an insult to my intelligence and (B) they are often some of the most egregious examples of argument via emotionalism found in modern American discourse. If you send me that sort of crap don't expect a dime from me.

    *I can't say that I've ever gotten anything from ACLU, so I don't know what their mailings are like specifically.

  • Guy Montag||

    Too bad that the DC and NYC chapters can not be staffed as brightly as the TX ACLU.

    and is not carrying the gun in plain view.

    So the cool gun racks from shop class are now protected?

  • ||

    Just thought I'd add that I cancelled my Costco membership a few years ago after reading Steven Greenhut's book on eminent domain abuse and learned about Costco's horrid record on the subject. Costco's MO is to pick out the land they want and then ask a city to steal it for them (not exactly an organization in sync with the constitution).
    I don't have the backup, but I'm pretty positive that the APA (of which my wife is a member due to her occupation) is pretty hostile to the 2nd.

  • 糖尿病||

  • ||

    "One of the main problems I have with a lot of advocacy groups* is the scare language so often associated with the mass mailing literature of such organizations"

    I get piles of that from the NRA, and it is aggravating. I can only assume that these tactics work with the average dolt, and this is why they keep doing it.

    Sometimes I wonder: if they dropped this approach and were straight-up with people, would the influx of members that were previously scared away by the propaganda outweigh the losses of members that need to be scared into action? It seems to me that even if there was a small net loss of members and/or donations, the credibility of the organization would be greatly enhanced.

  • Nobody Important||

    Grotius | April 7, 2007, 2:29am
    I can't say that I've ever gotten anything from ACLU, so I don't know what their mailings are like specifically.



    You can get on their e-mail list at http://action.aclu.org/getemail

    Based on my imperfect memory and biases, their e-mail alerts were a lot more partisan during Bush's first term, mentioning "Bush," "Ashcroft," and "the right wing" a lot as threats to civil liberties. I think it's been toned down a bit over the past few years -- probably more to avoid getting called on it than any change in attitude.

    I don't remember alarming e-mails about "Clinton," "Reno," or "the left wing" in the late 1990s. Even when the issue was something like the Communications Decency Act, which the ACLU opposed, their tone was more neutral than the partisan hysterics exhibited during Bush's term.

    Perhaps Robert Altermeyer is working as a consultant for the ACLU.

    If you look at the main web page aclu.org, in the right-hand column you'll find a list of issues:


    Criminal Justice
    Death Penalty
    Disability Rights
    Drug Policy
    Free Speech
    HIV/AIDS
    Immigrants' Rights
    Human Rights
    Lesbian & Gay Rights
    National Security
    Police Practices
    Prisoners' Rights
    Privacy & Technology
    Racial Justice
    Religion and Belief
    Reproductive Freedom
    Rights of the Poor
    Safe and Free
    StandUp/Youth
    Voting Rights
    Women's Rights



    While some of these are "American Civil Liberties," applicable to all, the list also includes several groups usually associated with Leftist identity politics.

    What rights do poor people, women, certain racial groups, and illegal aliens have that white males don't?

    And while the ACLU's problems go way beyond not supporting the individual-rights interpretation of the second amendment, imagine the support from libertarian-leaning gun-owners they could get if they did support gun rights. Why don't they?

    I think it's because the ACLU is no longer a civil liberties organization (if it ever was), but a collective of left-leaning special interest groups. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • Nobody Important||

    JLM | April 7, 2007, 8:02am
    I get piles of that from the NRA, and it is aggravating. I can only assume that these tactics work with the average dolt, and this is why they keep doing it.



    As a gun-owner and life-member of the NRA, their magazine Americas First Freedom irritates the hell out of me.

    Much of it is an insult to the reader's intelligence. And the caricatures on the covers are just plain stupid.

    I doubt there was ever anyone who thought, "Well, I support gun control. But this picture of Michael Moore as a slug, or Michael Bloomberg with tentacles, has changed my mind."

    F***ing idiots. Don't the marketroids at NRA headquarters realize how stupid that magazine makes us look. Even though I don't know my mail carrier, I'm embarrassed every time it's delivered to my house.

    Even worse, America's First Freedom replaced American Guardian, which was devoted to personal protection issues. I think that is something that appeals to a lot more people.

  • LarryA||

    Now, if you want to object to their (ACLU) position on racial discrimination, or some other issue where they actively push a stance that you disagree with, well, fair enough.

    The ACLU specifically opposes all forms of discrimination based on race, gender, etc. It's a major focus of the organization. Yet they cannot be convinced to act against gun control laws like the NYC and Los Angeles County gun registration regulations that produce blatant racially discriminatory results.

    How does one go hunting in Tejas, if one can not carry his gun in his car? 20 years ago, when I lived in Texas it was mandatory to carry a rifle and a bull whip in the rifle rack in the back window of one's pickup. Please, say it hasn't changed?

    I'm a firearm instructor, and teach the Texas concealed carry class.

    The law in question prohibits carrying a handgun "on or about your person" except under certain circumstances. (With a license, traveling, going to or from a sporting event involving firearms, etc.) It has no effect on rifles and shotguns.

    In this particular case the definition of "traveling" was based on case law, and cases in different parts of the state produced conflicts. The 2005 legislature passed a bill saying that a person is presumed to be travelling if in a private vehicle, etc. The legislators said their intent was to allow carrying handguns in cars. Some prosecutors (mainly in Houston and Austin) hold the opinion that the definition of travelling was not changed by a presumption, and still instruct the officers in their jurisdiction to arrest. IMHO it was a badly-worded law.

    The current 80th Legislature is working on another bill, HB 1815, that would allow carrying a handgun on your premises or premises under your control, carrying between your premises and your car, and concealed carry in your car or a car under your control.

    I keep track of Texas firearm-related legislation at http://www.txchia.org/legistex07.htm. This year I've listed 60 bills, one of which, Castle Doctrine, has already been passed and signed.

    I don't have the backup, but I'm pretty positive that the APA (of which my wife is a member due to her occupation) is pretty hostile to the 2nd.

    In a letter to the CDC about "Draft Priorities for FY 2001 Injury Research" the APA includes:

    We are also pleased to see the development of safety devices for minimizing the likelihood of firearm injury as a top priority.

    Add priority #7, "Reduce child and adolescent access to firearms."

    Between priority 10 and 11, we recommend adding an additional priority, "Design and develop training programs to keep guns away from children and adolescents."

    (http://www.apa.org/ppo/issues/pinjury.html)

    On the current front page there's notice of a challenge grant to "Help End Violence." Two of the three statistics cited are about "firearm violence."
    (http://www.apa.org/apf/)

    Even worse, America's First Freedom replaced American Guardian, which was devoted to personal protection issues. I think that is something that appeals to a lot more people.

    You can always call or email the NRA and ask them to send you American Rifleman or American Hunter instead.

  • ||

    To Nobody Important: I imagine that the NRA sees that publication, as most interest groups see their publication, not as an attempt to change anyone's mind but to feed the hardcore faithful already in their organization so that they will give more $. The cover is supposed to make the person say "Man, that is FUNNY, I hate that jerk Bllomberg" or "Damn that Hillary makes me so f*&^ing mad" followed by "I better renew my membership to fight those s.o.b.s". Kudos to you for finding this simplistic, because it is.

  • ||

    "What rights do poor people, women, certain racial groups, and illegal aliens have that white males don't?"

    I think the ACLU would claim that it is the white males (that are not poor) that have defacto rights these other groups don't.

    You are look at the positions bassackwards.

  • ||

    As someone who supports guns rights, I have no problem with the ACLU position on the second.

    Like it or not, the 2nd is vague.

    Whatever it was meant to protect, as written it does not protect your individual right to bear arms. Most of the rest of the BOR does not suffer from the ambiguous language that hinders clear interpretation of the 2nd.

    Here is the original wording proposed.

    "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."

    Look to state constitutions for much clearer wordings granting individual rights to arms.

    My pet peeve.
    Gun rights advocates that conflate "the right to bear arms" with "the right to conceal arms."

    It is the insistence on the right to conceal that limits support from non-gun owners (IMHO).

  • anonymous coward||

    As someone who supports guns rights, I have no problem with the ACLU position on the second.

    Like it or not, the 2nd is vague.


    So is the abortion amendment.

    But the ACLU doesn't have a problem taking an extreme position about abortion, which extends to public funding for minors without parental notification.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    I don't think the clear Constitutional Right to Abortion is found in the Amendments.
    It is located in the Penumbras.

  • ||

    "So is the abortion amendment. "

    "The opinion of the Roe Court, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, declined to adopt the district court's Ninth Amendment rationale, and instead asserted that the "right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." Justice Douglas, in his concurring opinion from the companion case Doe v. Bolton, stated more emphatically that, "The Ninth Amendment obviously does not create federally enforceable rights." Thus, the Roe majority rested its opinion squarely on the Constitution's Due Process Clause."

  • dhex, masochistic liberal||

    just like to take a snarky moment to mention the ACLU has done more for the cause of liberty in america than any libertarian organization has thus far.

    i have high hopes for the institute of justice, though.

  • ||

    Grotius: "One of the main problems I have with a lot of advocacy groups* is the scare language so often associated with the mass mailing literature of such organizations"

    JLM: I get piles of that from the NRA, and it is aggravating. I can only assume that these tactics work with the average dolt, and this is why they keep doing it..

    I must confess that the reason why I keep up my membership in th NRA is that my local gun club is "100% NRA". Since my club is the only one that has a 300YD rifle range and I like to practice the long distance shots I stay.

    But if I was only interested in keeping up my self-defense pistol shooting there's a bunch of indoor ranges I could join at less cost. And I wouldn't have to go out in the hot Florida summer sun.

  • ||

    Since my club is the only one that has a 300YD rifle range and I like to practice the long distance shots I stay.

    In other words I am mostly interested in venison on the table. And one day I would like to go on a Rocky Mountain Elk hunt.

    But if I was only interested in keeping up my self-defense pistol shooting there's a bunch of indoor ranges I could join at less cost.

    And most of those private ranges could not care less if I belong to the NRA, as long as I buy my ammo there.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    LarryA,

    "The ACLU specifically opposes all forms of discrimination based on race, gender...."

    No , look at their site, they SUPPORT discrimination based on group identity.

    Supporting racial discrimination is one of their major focuses.
    They also support State mandated wealth redistribution. The ACLU considers the 1996
    "Welfare Reform" legislation to be a Civil Liberties issue and they are opposed to it.

    Read the site. They are a Left Wing organization that occasionally takes up a Civil Liberties case.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    They avoid the exact language but it looks as if the ACLU supports "comparable worth" in wage compensation.

    Federal courts determining how much a private business should pay employess for different jobs.

    Any libertarian should oppose the ACLU on economic grounds alone.

  • Robert||

    "Unfortunately the philosophy of the ACLU has never advanced past that of the 5th Grade yard duty supervisor who scolds the kids and tells them to play fair."

    I don't get it. You saying there's something fundamentally wrong with the understanding of the 5th grade supv., or merely incomplete? You saying the ACLU (or the CLUs in gen'l) are merely unsophisticated, or you saying they've gone down the wrong track?

  • Grotius||

    One can find ambiguity in any of the "Bill of Rights." Crap, just consider the Eighth Amendment or the religion clauses of the First Amendment. What exactly is an "establishment of religion?"

  • Grotius||

    As far as the meaning of the Second Amendment I would simply note that it wasn't until (if I recall correctly) the mid-19th century that a court actually looked second amendment like language as being a collective right (this was a state court decision). Prior to that case law and legal commentary viewed it rather uncontroversially as a guarantee of an individual right. Of course those early commentators, etc. might have been wrong, but this is some evidence for the individual rights reading of the amendment.

  • anonymous coward||

    From http://instapundit.com/archives/019732.php

    December 08, 2004

    I THINK THAT THIS REFUSE TO SURRENDER PLEDGE is a good idea. Regardless of which party is in power.

    UPDATE: Jeez, a lot of people don't like the ACLU. I don't see them as evil, the way a lot of people seem to. I think that they do some good work, though their constructive role has diminished as they've become more and more a subsidiary of the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party. My point, however, was the desirability -- no matter who is in power -- of defending the Constitution, with a slight tweak at the ACLU for treating the Bush Administration's threats more harshly than the Clinton Administration's. The ACLU was actually very critical of Clinton on specific issues, but never took the "barbarians at the gate" approach notwithstanding that Clinton's record on civil liberties was, if anything, worse than Bush's.

    posted at 06:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds


  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    TWC, how'd they spend tax dollars in that instance?

    Planned Parenthood rakes in plenty of cash courtesy of Uncle Sugar. About a half billion last year. My taxes and yours. Contrast that with Reason and Cato who took exactly zero tax dollars.

    They are using taxpayer funds to spread the gospel of birth control. ACLU's only problem with something like this would be the use of tax dollars say, in a public school, to spread the gospel of Jesus.

    As I said, rank hypocrisy.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I don't get it. You saying there's something fundamentally wrong with the understanding of the 5th grade supv., or merely incomplete? You saying the ACLU (or the CLUs in gen'l) are merely unsophisticated, or you saying they've gone down the wrong track?

    Both. I look for consistency and philosophical coherence in an organization and I don't see much of that in the ACLU.

    That ACLU mindset is pretty pervasive and it results in all kinds of "equitable" arrangements from making Adults Only apartments illegal to the ADA that Bush Senior signed with a flourish in the Rose Garden.

    After all, it isn't fair that kids can be excluded from apartments. That makes it difficult for the parents. And man, it just sucks to be handi-capable and just not be capable of reaching the drinking fountain.

    And it's true, it really isn't fair (unless you're a single person that doesn't like kids). But you don't get to, or in a moral society you shouldn't get to rectify the inherent unfairness of life at someone else's expense.

    And while the ACLU may not have specifically engineered either of those items they heartily approve, which is why it's an ACLU mindset. Either way, same same.

  • ||

    "I get piles of that from the NRA, and it is aggravating. I can only assume that these tactics work with the average dolt, and this is why they keep doing it."

    In the realm of direct mail solicitation, a 1% response rate is considered utterly fantastic.

    Last time I saw the stats, the NRA's response rate for direct mail campaigns was around 2%, which is utterly unheard of.

    FWIW, I think that the magazine "America's 1st Freedom" sucks, as well. There's nothing written in that magazine that hasn't already appeared on nearly every gun-related discussion forum on the web, usually several weeks earlier. (For an example of this, look to the Zumbo affair. The NRA had nothing to do with what happened.)

    If you don't like 1st Freedom (and I don't) subscribe to one of the other magazines, like "American Rifleman." It's just general purpose gun magazine.

  • Nobody Important||

    The Wine Commonsewer | April 7, 2007, 9:17pm
    They are using taxpayer funds to spread the gospel of birth control. ACLU's only problem with something like this would be the use of tax dollars say, in a public school, to spread the gospel of Jesus.
    As I said, rank hypocrisy.



    Forget about Jesus in public schools.

    The ACLU opposes vouchers because kids might learn about Jesus in some private schools.

    As has been pointed out before, their gospel of "choice" demands taxpayer funding for all abortions, even for a minor without the knowledge of her parents.

    A very inconsistent application of "parental choice," unless their idea of consistency is "appeal to various left-of-center interests at all costs."

  • ||

    Also, joe's posts upthread are disingenuous.

    The ACLU isn't neutral on the gun issue, they are decidedly against gun rights. They openly hew to the so-called "collective rights" interpretation of the amendment, which has been shown to be a wholly modern invention that the anti crowd clings to despite the fact that any number of legal scholars have proven it to be an individual right.

    There would be a lot less confusion over the issue of the right to keep and bear arms if the ACLU didn't take a position that is legally, societally, and historically untenable.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The ACLU opposes vouchers because kids might learn about Jesus in some private schools.

    Everybody's Pro-Choice unless we're talking about a kid's education.

  • ACLU||

    Maybe we should be asking why they hate us?!

  • ||

    Mediageek says...

    "which has been shown to be a wholly modern invention that the anti crowd clings to despite the fact that any number of legal scholars have proven it to be an individual right."

    Right.
    Proven how?

    I would say it would be more accurate to say...
    any number of legal scholars have asserted it to be an individual right and at least as many have asserted the opposite view.

    The ACLU takes a neutral position on guns.

    "The national ACLU is neutral on the issue of gun control. We believe that the Constitution contains no barriers to reasonable regulations of gun ownership. If we can license and register cars, we can license and register guns."

    http://www.aclu.org/police/gen/14523res20020304.html

    Disagree with them, but they are quite clear on both their position and the reasoning behind it. The ACLU does not have a hidden agenda regarding guns. They have other issues to spend their energy on.

    There are many advocates for gun rights.
    The ACLU is not one of them.

    Doesn't mean they actively oppose your right to bear arms.

  • thoreau||

    The ACLU isn't neutral on the gun issue, they are decidedly against gun rights. They openly hew to the so-called "collective rights" interpretation of the amendment, which has been shown to be a wholly modern invention that the anti crowd clings to despite the fact that any number of legal scholars have proven it to be an individual right.

    But do they spend any money or time advancing that position in court? As far as I know, their position is basically there to respond to the question "Why don't you take second amendment cases?" They don't spend any time in court arguing against gun rights, they just simply don't take the cases, and they have stated a reason why. I may not agree with their reason, but as long as they don't do anything in court to advance that stance, I don't have a problem giving them money.

    As far as I know, the Institute for Justice doesn't take second amendment cases either. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.) Yet I doubt anybody here would cite that as a sufficient reason to oppose them. They take other types of cases, and they do good work in those cases. Likewise, the ACLU takes other types of cases, and they usually (no, not always) do good work in those cases.

    There are plenty of good reasons to not give money to the ACLU. But their gun stance isn't one of them. While they may be anti-gun in theory, in practice they are neutral, because in practice they don't do gun cases. And at least one state affiliate is actually taking the pro-gun side in court cases.

  • thoreau||

    Here's a question: How many of you would make gun control a deciding issue in an election for, say, State Insurance Commissioner (or some other office that has nothing to do with gun rights)?

    Now, I know what the response will be: The office of State Insurance Commissioner shouldn't even exist.

    Bingo. And I'd be voting for the candidate who was closer to my view on that issue, regardless of what he thinks about guns.

    It's like the time that somebody from a pro-life/anti-abortion/whatever group gave me a pamphlet endorsing or opposing certain candidates, and they even endorsed candidates for Water Utility Board (or whatever it's called). Say what you will about abortion, but I don't think the Water Utility Board has much authority over the issue....

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Thow-row, the below policy is one of plenty of good reasons I can find to not give money to the ACLU.

    NM, this stance is hardly neutral:

    ACLU POLICY

    "The ACLU agrees with the Supreme Court's long-standing interpretation of the Second Amendment [as set forth in the 1939 case, U.S. v. Miller] that the individual's right to bear arms applies only to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia. Except for lawful police and military purposes, the possession of weapons by individuals is not constitutionally protected. Therefore, there is no constitutional impediment to the regulation of firearms." --Policy #47


    The policy is Newspeak anyway because the ACLU forthrightly states that they don't care a fig about constitutionality of anything when it suits them. SIV posted that earlier and I did on another thread.

    Secondarily, all the nitpicking on the planet doesn't change the fact that a gun is a chunk of steel and has no volition of it's own apart from the intent of it's owner. As a piece of personal property it is no different than a blender, a car, a lawnmower, or a hair dryer. Free individuals are entitled to own what they want regardless of whether the ACLU or the DC city council approves.

    The ACLU cannot comprehend this concept and therefore it cannot really understand what civil rights are all about.

    Furthermore, every time I walk past an anti-abortion protester's table at the mall and have a flyer shoved in my face I thank the ACLU for litigating against the property rights of the mall owners.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    As far as I know, the Institute for Justice doesn't take second amendment cases either. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.) Yet I doubt anybody here would cite that as a sufficient reason to oppose them.

    IJ has no official policy stating that we have no right to own guns.

  • Robert||

    So, thought experiment. If you went back to just before the ACLU was founded, and were told that an organiz'n with "civil liberties" in its name was about to form, and that its understanding of issues would be akin to that of a 5th grade supv. (not sure whether that means a 5th grader appointed to supervise others, or an adult supervising 5th graders), would you predict they'd take the types of positions that'd result in disabilities acts and the like?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Robert,

    Given that the founder of the ACLU was a marxist, yes, I would predict that.

  • ||

    TWC,

    Their motivation for staying neutral is what you are citing.

    See Dr. T's post above.

    And remember, this thread is about how the ACLU is pro-gun in this particular instance.

    You don't have to convince me of the pro-gun side, but you will need a better argument to convince a skeptic than to make a daft equivocation between a blender and an uzi.

  • Robert||

    I should've broadened the Q, for everyone. Compared to the way things are right now, wherever you are, do you think they'd be better if for the last, say, 75 years, public policy had been formed entirely by adults whose main job was to supervise 5th graders? How about by 5th graders who supervised other 5th graders?

    I'm really not sure about this one, for any part of the world. I don't know whether sophistication improves public policy, disimproves it, or makes no difference.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The philosophy of a 5th Grade Yard Duty Supervisor:

    When I say that I mean that the only criteria the ACLU uses to determine right from wrong is what seems fair. It's not fair that the Nazi's can't march in Skokie, after all they let the high school band march in a parade (every year). It's not fair that those apartments won't rent to couples with kids. It's not fair that the Boy Scouts won't let gays join up. It's not fair that the Masons meet in secret, smoke cigars, and won't let any chicks join up. It's not fair that you joined the army to get a free ride to the U but then war broke out and you ended up in Iraq, it's not fair that people don't want the Jehovah Witnesses bugging them on the streets, it's not fair that the mall owners won't let anti-war protestors inside, it's not fair that atheists have to listen to a prayer in a public school,it's not fair that Catholic Youth Services won't provide birth control pills as part of the health insurance package.

    Man, I am supposed to be working so I'll shut up now.

  • Robert||

    Wine, are you saying that if smarter people had founded the CLUs, the results would've been better? Or are you saying that marxists perceive other adults they're familiar with as being like like 5th graders? (Still not sure whether 5th grade supv. means an adult-child relationship, or child-child.)

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    NM, We agree on many things but in this case, I'm curious to know if you consider yourself a libertarian or just lean that way on some issues.

    I saw Dr T's post above. Active or passive, the stance is against guns which, as I pointed out, makes ACLU worlds apart from IJ, which has no such policy.

  • Robert||

    "the only criteria the ACLU uses to determine right from wrong is what seems fair."

    That's the only criterion I use too, so now it just seems we're arguing about how people mean words like "right" and "fair". I think you're using the word "fair" approximately, but not exactly, as a synonym for "equal" or "egalitarian". I'm trying to think of what other characteristic ties together the "fairness" items Wine listed. (I should be working on my taxes now too. A lot of diddling, gathering of numbers I didn't keep too handy, for a minuscule amount of money.) I could just as easily imagine 5th grade supervisors coming out on the opposite side of many of those issues from the sides specified above, depending on whether it's an adult supervising children or children supervising other children, so maybe it does just come down to a lack of sophistication leading to incoherent results.

    Maybe part of the problem with imagining the child supervision situation is that fairness to them always takes place in the context of resources provided by adults rather than by themselves, so that cost is no object, if it's the kids themselves doing the analysis. Is that part of it, or a distraction from your point?

  • Nobody Important||

    Neu Mejican | April 8, 2007, 11:23am
    There are many advocates for gun rights.
    The ACLU is not one of them.



    There are many advocates for [insert leftist cause here].

    But that doesn't prevent the ACLU from taking an extreme pro-[insert leftist cause here] position and devoting resources to it.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Or are you saying that marxists perceive other adults they're familiar with as being like like 5th graders?

    Yes

    Still not sure whether 5th grade supv. means an adult-child relationship, or child-child.

    adult/child. yard duty supervisors are hired part time to patrol the playgrounds of elementary schools. They do not have the authority of a teacher but do have authority to solve problems. They tend to be patronizing and paternalistic in their quest to resolve problems among children who are playing. I thought it was a decent analogy but I guess it really wasn't. Not meaning to be obtuse.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Robert, fair is not necessarily equal to right. A landlord has a right to rent an apartment on whatever terms and conditions she pleases and a prospective tenant can either agree to those terms or rent elsewhere. If the landlord says no kids or no cats that isn't fair. But it is right in that the prospective tenant does not own the property.

  • Nobody Important||

    From the October 1994 issue of Reason
    Interview with ACLU President Nadine Strossen

    Reason: So why doesn't the ACLU challenge gun-control laws on Second Amendment grounds?

    Strossen: We reexamine our positions when people come forward with new arguments. On the gun issue, I instituted a reexamination a few years ago in response to a number of things, but the most important one was an article by Sanford Levinson at University of Texas Law School that summarized a wave of new historical scholarship. Levinson's argument was that in the 18th century context, a well-regulated militia meant nothing other than people in the privacy of their homes.

    So we looked into the historical scholarship there and ended up not being persuaded. The plain language of the Second Amendment in no way, shape, or form, can be construed, I think, as giving an absolute right to unregulated gun ownership. It says, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." Certainly, when you have the notion of "well-regulated" right in the constitutional language itself, it seems to defy any argument that regulation is inconsistent with the amendment.

    Putting all that aside, I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty. So the question becomes, What is the civil-liberties argument of those who would say we should be opposing all gun control? What it comes down to is the very strong belief that having a gun in your home is something that can ultimately fend off the power of a tyrannical government. I find that re- ally unpersuasive in the 20th-century context. Maybe it made sense in the 18th century. I would hope that's the kind of thing we do through words rather than through guns and that, to me, is the function that the First Amendment serves, not the Second Amendment.

    Reason: Would you support a total ban on gun ownership?

    Strossen: We might very well oppose that. I would think that our present policy would not foreclose opposing that the way we oppose many other kinds of prohibition, such as drug prohibition.




    Letters and her reply to them were printed in the January 1995 issue.

    Ms. Strossen replies: Although your readers have raised questions about several issues I discussed in my interviews with Cathy Young, a majority seem concerned about the ACLU's position on the Second Amendment. I therefore decided to use the limited space available to further clarify this position.

    The national ACLU does not affirmatively support gun control legislation, believing that it cannot be justified on civil liberties grounds. The question whether any particular regulation affecting guns is barred by the Second Amendment, or civil liberties principles, is more complicated, however.

    We are familiar with recent scholarship that challenges the prevailing (although old) Supreme Court doctrine regarding the original intent of the Second Amendment. This scholarship argues that the amendment was specifically intended to protect the right of individuals to own and bear arms, whereas the Supreme Court had held that its intent was to secure the states' right to maintain militias as a hedge against federal power. Both claims are probably correct because in the 18th century the militia consisted of citizens who brought their own arms.

    As in other disputes about the meaning of constitutional provisions, the attempt to discern a specific original intent is of limited use, and certainly not dispositive, in setting modern arguments. One has to look beyond the specific 18th-century circumstances and instead try to discern what broad purpose or value was being served, and how that might be served today.

    The Bill of Rights clearly was passed to protect citizens and states from federal power, and not to restrain state powers. Thus the Second Amendment did not prevent state or local governments from disarming individuals--e.g., no one ever suggested that Wyatt Earp and other local lawmen who disarmed people in Dodge City and other western towns were violating the Second Amendment--because everyone understood that it only created a right against the federal government. Its purpose was to maintain the local means to resist potential tyranny by the federal government.

    In light of this underlying broad purpose, it is difficult to discern the relevance of the Second Amendment today. State laws that attempt to disarm individuals as a way of reducing violent crime seem to have little to do with resisting the tyranny of the national government, and seem more analogous to the sort of disarming that western sheriffs imposed on townspeople without anyone seeing a Second Amendment violation.

    The strongest civil libertarian reason for opposing gun control laws is the same that motivated the original drafters of the Second Amendment: to maintain the ability to resist armed tyranny by the government. But if armed tyranny comes from Washington, it will not come armed with pistols. In the modern world, no citizenry can effectively resist an armed government with handguns alone. So to achieve the desired purpose, one would have to argue that in the modern world, the Second Amendment confers the right of individuals to own tanks, bazookas, anti-aircraft missiles, jet fighters, attack helicopters, and even tactical nuclear weapons. I know of no Second Amendment advocate who takes that position, but without it, the civil liberties underpinning of the argument collapses. Once all this heavier weaponry is banned, the ability to resist a standing professional military is practically non-existent.

    Moreover, since the Second Amendment refers only to "arms" and does not distinguish among types of arms, any concession that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual's right to own a tank or nuclear weapon introduces a "rule of reason" not explicitly present in the Amendment's language. If such a "rule of reason" can be invoked to justify banning individual ownership of tanks and nuclear arms, why can't it also be used to ban, say assault rifles or to require registration while permitting ownership?



  • ||

    TWC,

    "I'm curious to know if you consider yourself a libertarian or just lean that way on some issues."

    I consider the libertarian perspective an important one to consider in making any policy decisions, but I am certainly not a libertarian.

    I don't have enough naive faith in axiomatically derived logic as a basis for policy to be a libertarian.

  • Robert||

    So then I guess it does come down to lack of sophistication. But if all public policy issues were resolved at that level, I'd still like to get predictions from people as to whether that'd be an improvement or a disimprovement. Seems to me that as applied to issues perceived (rightly or wrongly) as "civil liberties" matters, the unsophisticated approach is still better than nothing. Or is it?

    I mean, if more policy matters were analyzed in a sophisticated way re liberty vs. authority, would things come out any better for liberty? Might they actually come out worse? Because I'm afraid they might come out worse -- that if things were laid out more clearly, with time taken for deep analysis, more people who matter might decide liberty wasn't worth the trouble. But if taken piecemeal and unsophisticatedly, as by the CLUs, more of them might be decided in favor of liberty than otherwise.

  • ||

    TWC,

    To elaborate.

    Libertarianism in general is built upon a foundation of axioms that are treated as true and given. Those axioms, however, are not always well founded.

    For an example, property rights are a good idea pragmatically, but are difficult to justify as a first principle (they are at best a 2nd order right).

  • Nobody Important||

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 and Brady Handgun Control Act of 1994 requires anyone purchasing a firearm from a dealer to show a photo ID. A concealed weapons permit not only requires a photo ID (among other things), but is another form of photo ID that costs several hundred dollars. Any licensing and registration scheme supported by the ACLU will require (among other things) a photo ID.

    So what's the ACLU's position on photo ID?

    Photo Identification Requirements Amounts to a Poll Tax

    As with the other methods of disenfranchisement in American history, such as literacy tests and poll taxes, the photo identification requirement would present significant barriers to voting and have a chilling effect on voter participation. There are voters who simply do not have identification and requiring them to purchase photo identification would be tantamount to requiring them to pay a poll tax. As a significant number of racial and ethnic minority voters, elderly, voters with disabilities, and certain religious objectors do not have photo identification nor the financial means to acquire it, the burden of this requirement would fall disproportionately and unfairly upon them, calling into question its lawfulness under the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973. No citizen should have to pay to vote.



  • Robert||

    Wine, then we are arguing over the meaning of words. You're using "right" in an ethical sense, and "fair" in a broader sense even in the same context. Sort of like how I'd refer to weather as fair. That can happen even in a narrow context such as baseball, where "fair" means one thing as applied to a batted ball, and another as applied to a judgement about an umpire's ruling of a ball as fair. So what it really comes down to is that some people don't determine "right" on narrow enough grounds, leading to ambiguity & confusion, because they're equivocating the broader with the narrower meaning of fairness.

  • Robert||

    Nobody, all that shows is that the ACLU opposes making the applicant pay for the ID, or to having those with religious objections to being photographed (but not to voting or carrying weapons) have to submit rather than being identified in some other way. They don't say they object to the board of elections taking & keeping the photo on file (which would make the most sense anyway) at their own expense, and using fingerprints or some other ID for religious objectors who want to vote.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    "daft equivocation between a blender and an uzi"

    They like all inanimate objects, are morally neutral

    "For an example, property rights are a good idea pragmatically, but are difficult to justify as a first principle (they are at best a 2nd order right)"

    Not only is he not libertarian the above statement suggests he is opposed to our( American) common culture and law.

    For what it is worth, I am opposed to the whole notion of "public policy" in a free society.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    NM, I've been called daft by leftier people than you. Couple of Republicans as well.

    They like all inanimate objects, are morally neutral

    SIV is absolutely spot on (and concise as well).

    Robert, I am using examples of the inherent unfair nature of life to illustrate the thinking of the ACLU mindset. Using the term fair seems like a simple way to describe things because fair and unfair have meanings that are pretty clearly understood in our society.

    I am not talking about half decent weather, a ball that drops onto the foul line and rolls, or the judgment of the umpire. Just simple observations of human interactions at all levels, which is why I use 8 or 10 examples of how the idea of what is fair affects daily life in modern America.

  • Grotius||

    Neu Mejican,

    That is true of any ideology. Including yours.

    thoreau,

    But do they spend any money or time advancing that position in court?

    Why would you limit that question to the courts? Why not ask do they spend money in any forum advancing the collective right argument?

    There are plenty of good reasons to not give money to the ACLU. But their gun stance isn't one of them.

    Actually, it is, for all the reasons detailed here by many posters.

    Here's a question: How many of you would make gun control a deciding issue in an election for, say, State Insurance Commissioner (or some other office that has nothing to do with gun rights)?

    The thing is that ACLU's position on gun rights has real world consequences, so your question is at best inapt.

  • ||

    SIV,

    ""For an example, property rights are a good idea pragmatically, but are difficult to justify as a first principle (they are at best a 2nd order right)"

    Not only is he not libertarian the above statement suggests he is opposed to our( American) common culture and law."

    No. I recognize the need for property rights and think they are a good idea pragmatically. They just don't have a firm foundation philosophically. My reason for supporting them is different than a libertarians, doesn't mean I am opposed to the concept.

    SIV & TWC

    "They like all inanimate objects, are morally neutral "

    Sorry, but you don't get to determine the rules for moral valuation. Given that all artifacts are made for a purpose, that purpose can be considered in a moral argument. Remember, I advocate gun rights. But if you take the very real parameter of intent/purpose out of the discussion, you will not convince those that find those issues central.

    Grotius...
    There are distinctions between belief systems in the degree to which they rely on axioms. And some belief systems are based on firmer axioms than others. Or are you arguing for an equivalence between all systems of thought & belief? Are all axioms equally flawed?

  • ||

    And for the record TWC,

    I did not call you daft.

    I called equating a blender with an uzi daft.

    All wise men make daft assertions on occasion.

  • ||

    TWC,

    "leftier people than you."

    About 50% of the population is to the left of me.

  • ||

    On the Political Compass
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2

    I fall on the vertical axis right between Gandhi and Friedman

  • Grotius||

    Ne Mejican,

    Or are you arguing for an equivalence between all systems of thought & belief?

    Clearly not. Then again, you apparently made no argument about distinctions above.

  • Grotius||

    Nobody Important, thoreau, Neu Mejican, etc.,

    Check out this statement by Strossen as posted by Nobody Important:

    The plain language of the Second Amendment in no way, shape, or form, can be construed, I think, as giving an absolute right to unregulated gun ownership.

    I'm curious, who exactly claims that one has such an "absolute right" again? Nobody that I have ever talked to.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    Well, I was trying to make a distinction between libertarianism and my personal view in the comment previous to the one I believe you commented on...assuming that you were reacting to both posts...

    Anyway,
    In a general way, all systems of belief have their axioms. Too many of libertarianism's assumptions, in my view, lead to naive policy positions that would be both impractical and unsustainable if implemented. This seems to come from a belief that you can derive the correct policy by strict logical application of first principles to the issue at hand...an approach that is particularly sensitive to the validity of underlying assumptions.

    Given that all axioms are schematic in nature, they too often fall flat when faced with the real world.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I'm curious, who exactly claims that one has such an "absolute right" again? Nobody that I have ever talked to.

    Keep in mind that at the drafting of the Bill of Rights it was not illegal to own state-of-the-art assault rifles (called muskets) or cannons, or cannon balls. I don't care if NM owns an Uzi as long as he doesn't use it for nefarious purposes.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    "who exactly claims that one has such an "absolute right" again?"

    Well, TWC comes close

    "...a gun is a chunk of steel and has no volition of it's own apart from the intent of it's owner. As a piece of personal property it is no different than a blender, a car, a lawnmower, or a hair dryer. Free individuals are entitled to own what they want regardless of whether the ACLU or the DC city council approves."

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    NM, leftier

    I was mostly just yanking your chain.

    ..equating a blender with an uzi daft.

    And you're right, every time I try to make a margarita with an Uzi it gets messy.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    NM, I draw the line at nukes in the neighbor's garage.

    Liberty Magazine once did a survey at the LP convention about just how far libertarians are willing to go with keep and bear arms. Surprisingly enough most LP'ers were quite willing to regulate weapons. From howitzers to tanks to hand grenades to nukes, very few felt that the 2nd Amendment applied.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    Neu Mejican,

    You totally lose me with the notion that blenders and uzis have an inherent moral component.Kitchen appliances are more or less "moral" than sub-machine guns?

    I reject the loaded "political compass" test as well.

  • Nobody Important||

    The Wine Commonsewer | April 8, 2007, 7:56pm
    NM, I draw the line at nukes in the neighbor's garage.



    I draw the line at whatever law enforcement has.

    If they want to ban assault rifles because "they're only used by criminals who want to indiscriminately kill large numbers of people," then fine, as long as the police are not exempted from said ban.

    If the cops have .50 BMG rifles and nuclear grenade launchers, then I want the right to have them too.

  • Grotius||

    TWC,

    Keep in mind that at the drafting of the Bill of Rights it was not illegal to own state-of-the-art assault rifles (called muskets) or cannons, or cannon balls. I don't care if NM owns an Uzi as long as he doesn't use it for nefarious purposes.

    Actually, that was the general division made at the time (1791). The weapons of the "infantry" were the arms considered part of the arms right, whereas canons and like weapons were not.

    Neu Mejican,

    Anyway,

    Too many of libertarianism's assumptions, in my view, lead to naive policy positions that would be both impractical and unsustainable if implemented.

    That's fine but that says little or nothing about whether those axioms are indeed correct or not.

    This seems to come from a belief that you can derive the correct policy by strict logical application of first principles to the issue at hand...an approach that is particularly sensitive to the validity of underlying assumptions.

    I seriously doubt whether most libetarians think that. Most libertarians are probably like most people, that is they don't generally examine their axioms and at times their ad hoc responses are in fact contrary to such.


    On the Second Amendment:

    Fine, say that is true. It is not the sort of position generally taken by scholars of this issue. Indeed, I've read quite a few journal articles on the matter and have as yet to see any scholar who takes the individual rights perspective make such a claim.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I draw the line at whatever law enforcement has.

    Works for me, but would you include the federal arsenal. I mean the military has all kinds of cool stuff.

  • ||

    SIV,

    It is pretty simple, really. But I'll try and confuse you more with my poor communication skills.

    The purpose of an artifact is an inherent part of what allows us to classify it as one type of thing rather than another.

    A nuclear weapon, for instance, has a much different purpose than a nuclear reactor (we classify the former as a weapon vs. an energy source even though a nuclear weapon produces energy). The moral implications of making and owning a nuclear weapon are much different than the making and owning of a nuclear reactor for production of energy.

    This is the argument that Iran is using to stall the world regarding their nuclear program.

    When you morally equate owning a blender and owning an uzi, you are failing to recognize that, no matter how you use the two, the purpose of the uzi is to shoot people and cause them injury. This is why the uzi was designed in the way it was. It's purpose it to kill. The purpose of a blender is to make food prep quicker. Most people take the difference in purpose into account when they do the moral calculus.

    True, you as the agent that will use the two items can choose to use the uzi in a moral fashion (to make margatitas, for instance --or even self defense) while using the blender to torture your wife. But to deny that the uzi is an artifact designed with the purpose of killing other humans, and to deny that that fact makes ownership of it more of a concern to other humans than your ownership of a blender will mean that your arguments will be dismissed out of hand by (I would guess) the majority of moral decision makers (your neighbors).

  • ||

    Grotius,

    "I seriously doubt whether most libetarians think that. Most libertarians are probably like most people, that is they don't generally examine their axioms and at times their ad hoc responses are in fact contrary to such."

    Well, most people are like most people in most ways, but even right in this thread you have SIV making just the kind of arguments I am talking about.

    "says little or nothing about whether those axioms are indeed correct or not."

    True enough.

  • Nobody Important||

    The Wine Commonsewer | April 8, 2007, 8:10pm
    I draw the line at whatever law enforcement has.
    Works for me, but would you include the federal arsenal. I mean the military has all kinds of cool stuff.



    I'd include any domestic law enforcement agency; local, state, or federal.

    As a pragmatic matter, the military would have to be exempted, as long as they're not operating inside the United States against Americans. Maybe that thought needs to be refined some more.

  • Grotius||

    ...the purpose of the uzi is to shoot people and cause them injury.

    It is probably fairer to state that one of the purposes of an Uzi is too shoot people and cause them injury. Indeed, it may also be its primary purpose.

    Furthermore, technology may not be user-indifferent. If humans do have free will (debateable I realize) then users are the ultimate choosers of purpose.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The purpose of a blender is to make food prep quicker.

    You didn't see Pulp Fiction? Wait, that was a garbage disposal.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Actually, that was the general division made at the time (1791). The weapons of the "infantry" were the arms considered part of the arms right, whereas canons and like weapons were not.

    I did not know that and I'd be interested to read more about it.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    NM,
    I get your point but I reject it on philosophical(as well as pragmatic grounds)

    The object itself remains morally neutral.
    I presume humans to have free will.

    As for arms I have no problem with individual ownership of heavy weapons.This was the norm in free societies until the 20th century.An individual could purchase a fully armed state-of-the-art warship (privateer) the CSS Alabama wasn't sold directly to the Confederate Government as it was not a recognised State.
    The "collective" nature of operation of crew served weapons, as well as the requisite practice,limit their potential for suprise "mis-use". An 88mm cannon in my front yard-fully functional and with a stockpile of shells is for practical reasons- less threatening than 50 gallons of gasoline or a good semi-auto shotgun.No one (as yet) will sell you a nuke, weaponised anthrax or large quantities of nerve agent for your garage. Nation States and trans- and sub- national terrorist organizations are not acquiring them on the market.

    Are Bunny Rabbits and Grizzly Bears morally equal in your philosophy?
    What about anophles mosquitoes and rhinocerous beetles?

  • InstaPutin||

    No one (as yet) will sell you a nuke, weaponised anthrax or large quantities of nerve agent for your garage.

    Heh. Indeed.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    I reference the animals above as I presume for consistency you must hold the rabbit and beetle to be more moral than the bear and mosquito.
    I kinda throw them in with the sub-gun and the Oster.


    "It is not fair" is a whine I often hear from young women- usually in regard to non- equality
    of outcome.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    InstaPutin,

    Clever and amusing!

    Putin and his cronies may be why ex-Soviet WMDs have not come to market

  • ||

    Bunny rabbits and Grizzly Bears are not artifacts made with a purpose (unless you believe in intelligent design).

    Since they are not created for a purpose, the moral dimensions of purpose can not be applied.

    Clearly you don't get it or you wouldn't have come up with this question.

    The free will of agents is tangential.

  • ||

    Well, I'm embarassed to admit I did not know Jacob Sullum lives in Dallas (just down the road). Well, what do you know? Maybe we can get him to speak at the college I work at.

    Hmmmm,

    Mystic

  • Robert||

    "Using the term fair seems like a simple way to describe things because fair and unfair have meanings that are pretty clearly understood in our society."

    Clearly not. I'm sure it's very common for persons on each side of a great many public policy issues to think the decision the opposite side desires unfair.

  • ||

    The ACLU inconsistent? WHOODA THUNKIT???

    Read what co-founder Norman Thomas had to say about the ACLU's acceptance of the internment of 110,000 men women and children (over half of them American citizens), whose only crime was being of Japanese ancestry.

  • ||

    There is an organization with 10 times the membership of the ACLU which is devoted to supporting our Second Amendment rights. Why shouldn't the ACLU concentrate on the other Amendments?

  • Nobody Important||

    big_arrow_up | April 11, 2007, 8:38pm
    There is an organization with 10 times the membership of the ACLU which is devoted to supporting our Second Amendment rights. Why shouldn't the ACLU concentrate on the other Amendments?



    There are other organizations which support abortion rights, such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL. This doesn't prevent the ACLU from devoting a lot of resources and to zealously promoting an extreme pro-abortion position.

    The NAACP is an organization that lobbies for racial whatever. This doesn't prevent the ACLU from doing the same

    The list goes on...

    The ACLU's lack of support for gun rights has nothing to do with a desire to avoid duplicating the efforts of other groups.

  • Nobody Important||

    If anybody is still reading this thread, go back to the Strossen interview and post-letters rebuttal at April 8, 2007, 12:30pm.

    The Bill of Rights clearly was passed to protect citizens and states from federal power, and not to restrain state powers. Thus the Second Amendment did not prevent state or local governments from disarming individuals--e.g., no one ever suggested that Wyatt Earp and other local lawmen who disarmed people in Dodge City and other western towns were violating the Second Amendment--because everyone understood that it only created a right against the federal government. Its purpose was to maintain the local means to resist potential tyranny by the federal government.



    In what other issue has the ACLU accepted and promoted the idea that the Bill of Rights does "not restrain state powers"?

    And if this is their position, why has the ACLU has not opposed federal gun controls?

  • Jimmy Likes airforce airguns||

    I don't know if it's fair to say that the ACLU is completely anti-gun, as evidenced my the Texas chapters involvement. It's an organization with wide and often contradictory areas of focus, but there are plenty who are glad they took up their case. If they are trying to help in this case, I'd say don't bite the hand that feeds you.

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