(The combination of an early morning seminar, a $^%%#! D.C. marathon that closed down access to the venue, and a lost power cord rendering my netbook useless conspired to prevent both late posts yesterday and early ones today: I’m sorry. I’m back at my desk, chagrined but unbowed…)
1 Why not 10? Why not 2? Poor, declining, Twitter-addict Lawrence Tribe’s ridiculous claim that the voting age should be lowered to 16 was so self-evidently silly that I assumed no one serious would adopt it. But, as H. L. Mencken kind of said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” and as I’ll say now, nobody can underestimate the level of irresponsible proposals that anti-gun zealots will float in their desperation to gut the Second Amendment.
Last week, Temple University’s Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology, issued a Times op-ed arguing for Tribe’s new voters, ignoring his own profession’s conclusions that children that young, in addition to not being, you know, adults, also have not mastered stable reasoning ability because their brains are not fully formed. Never mind, says the prof:
“The last time the United States lowered the federal voting age was in 1971, when it went from 21 to 18. In that instance, the main motivating force was outrage over the fact that 18-year-olds could be sent to fight in Vietnam but could not vote. The proposal to lower the voting age to 16 is motivated by today’s outrage that those most vulnerable to school shootings have no say in how such atrocities are best prevented. Let’s give those young people more than just their voices to make a change.”
Wow, what a well-reasoned argument! I can”t wait for the proposal to lower the voting age to minus-eight months out of outrage that those most vulnerable to abortions have no say in how such atrocities are best prevented. Yes, it’s true: the anti-gun Left is willing to follow President Trump with President Kendall Jenner, as long as we let the government and police have all the guns.
Maybe Temple psychologists and lapsed Harvard Law professors should lose the vote, since they apparently can’t reason above the level of 16-year-olds.
2. It’s hard being an absolutist. The National Rifle Association is suing Florida to challenge its new gun control law, passed in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Even the fact that it was signed by Governor Rick Scott, a member of the organization, the NRA was not deterred: it says the new law violates the Constitution. It is probably right.
The law raises the legal age for buying rifles in Florida, but also allows the training and arming of school staff.
What’s in the new law?
- It raises the minimum age for buying rifles from 18 to 21 in the state, though 18, 19 and 20-year-old police officers and members of the security forces will still be able to buy rifles and shotguns.
Verdict: Very dubious. A blanket restriction on a Constitutional right that all adult citizens have, especially with an exception for retsricted members according to their occupation, is just asking to be overturned. I’m pretty sure Scott and the legislature knows this, and just passed this provision for political cover to “do something.” This is irresponsible and cowardly law-making, and is frankly forcing the NRA to take the heat for a cynical legislature.
- It bans bump stocks, the devices that raise the firing speed of semi-automatic rifles.
Verdict: Can’t hurt. What it basically means is that future mass killers who make their own bump stocks will face additional charges in addition to multiple counts of murder. Net effect on future deaths: None. Again, it’s a “do something” sop.
- It requires a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases, not only when people bought handguns, or until a background check is completed, whichever is longer.
Verdict: I wouldn’t be surprised to see this and other waiting periods declared unconstitutional. You’re boyfriend is angry and violent. He has no record, and the police won’t touch him. You have a restraining order, but you fear that he may come to kill you at any time. You want, and feel you need, a gun now.
He shoots you and himself on Day #2 of your waiting period.
- It will expand mental health services and regulations, with Florida school districts receiving state funding to provide mental health care to students.
This shouldn’t have had to be associated with guns to pass.
- Police will be able to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone under involuntary psychiatric evaluation. It would also prohibit gun sales to Floridians who were committed to mental institutions or deemed mentally incompetent by a judge, and would allow the police, with judicial approval, to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.
Verdict: Probably too broad, and again, I suspect the drafters know it. I am not comfortable with the government deciding what makes me too dangerous to have all of my civil rights, if I haven’t broken any laws. College students think Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter are “dangerous.”
- It allows school staff to carry guns, with the consent of their school district authorities and sheriff’s department.
The NRA is not going to challenge this.
I listened to the NRA being vilified on TV this morning for doing its job. It has a duty to challenge such laws, as the watchdog of a core civil right, enshrined in the Constitution. I don’t know why this so hard to comprehend.
The organization is no different in this regard than a criminal defense attorney. All of our rights must be defended vigorously so no reduction in them in any respect and for any reason is done casually and without thorough judicial review.
3. Addendum: I also saw one of the many self-anointed “experts” from Parkland pronounce the NRA’s concerns about the Second Amendment as “bullshit.”
Maybe we should automatically give 16-year-olds law degrees, too. Larry? What do you think?