'Death Wish' made Alito nostalgic for vigilantes, cigarette ads

During oral arguments in a major Second Amendment case, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito opined that New York would be a lot better place if all the law abiding people could pack guns wherever they want, so they could protect themselves from the bad guys in all the "high-crime areas" pew-pew!

The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, concerns New York state's 108-year-old concealed carry law, which requires applicants to show that they have "good cause" to have a concealed weapon, beyond the warm feeling they get from knowing they can shoot anyone who tries to take the parking space they had their eye on. The Court's 2008 DC v. Heller ruling established an individual right to own firearms (based not so much on history as on NRA ideology), and now that the "keep" part of the Second Amendment is taken care of, gun humpers want to make sure there are virtually no limits on the right to "bear" arms, too. No matter how that might harm public safety.

Currently, seven states, including New York, have such requirements, but they're pretty populous, so "good cause" laws cover about a quarter of Americans, about 83 million of us. Now that there are two more gun-friendly justices among the Supremes, it looks like state laws aimed at limiting the right to carry guns, concealed or openly, will be done away with, and we'll all get to see just how polite an armed society can be.


In an attempt to remind the Court that the Founders weren't big fans of everyone going armed all the time, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that

many of the colonies "restricted concealed arms" before the Revolutionary War, and states maintained these bans following independence. And "after the Civil War, there were many, many more states" that granted "a right to arms but not concealed."

"Many of the laws conditioned or retained the right of the state to decide which people were eligible" to carry concealed guns, Sotomayor said. "To carry the arms," citizens "had to be subject to the approval of the local sheriff or the local mayor." Why, she wondered, "is a 'good cause' requirement any different than that discretion that was given to local officials to deny the carrying of firearms to people that they thought it was inappropriate?"

Ah, but the plaintiffs' attorney, Paul Clement, was ready to demolish such arguments, explaining he didn't read such "historical examples" the way Sotomayor did, so how's that for convincing?

After a few more rounds of history fights — with precedents in many states that had restrictions on carrying arms, yes even in the "Wild" West — Alito presented his case for arming more good decent people who would definitely use their guns responsibly. After all, he noted, New York is a crime-filled sewer, as anyone who's seen Death Wish or The Warriors would know:

ALITO: So I want you to think about people like this, people who work late at night in Manhattan, it might be somebody who cleans offices, it might be a doorman at an apartment, it might be a nurse or an orderly, it might be somebody who washes dishes. None of these people has a criminal record. They're all law-abiding citizens. They get off work around midnight, maybe even after midnight. They have to commute home by subway, maybe by bus. When they arrive at the subway station or the bus stop, they have to walk some distance through a high-crime area. And they apply for a license, and they say: "Look, nobody has said I'm going to mug you next Thursday. However, there have been a lot of muggings in this area, and I am scared to death." They do not get licenses, is that right?

New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood noted that there would definitely be problems with allowing "a lot of armed people in an enclosed space" like New York City subways, but Alito cut her off with his streetwise wisdom about what goes on in the city's mean subways:

All these people with illegal guns: They're on the subway, walking around the streets, but ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people, no, they can't be armed.

We can only imagine what brave fantasies of righteous armed citizens wiping out criminal scum may have been dancing in Alito's head just then. He certainly couldn't have been thinking of the many cases where Responsible Gun Owners shot someone over where a dog pooped, or because someone pulled into their driveway to check directions, or for the criminal act of trying to sell you frozen steaks, or in an argument over how much a German Shepherd can possibly weigh. Small price for people to be able to go Charles Bronson in the subways.

So get ready to wave goodbye to some really effective gun laws, like those in Massachusetts, because this Supreme Court is ready to make sure everyone everywhere can have guns in public, for America.

[Slate / Brennan Center / Law & Crime / AP / Vox]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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