States’ Rights – Not Just For Racism and Homophobia Anymore!

Whoopise. Someone let the cat out of the bag and must have informed modern liberals they’re allowed to use the principle of “states’ rights” to get what they want too. What am I talking about, you ask? The fact that the Supreme Court just upheld assault weapons bans in both Connecticut and New York, that’s what.

Here’s the NPR story for your further edification:

Something tells me a whole lot of angry people who normally shout about how important it is to let the states have their say in how they handle certain issues — even gun laws — are going to start coming out of the woodwork now, screaming about the supremacy of federal laws. Which means every one of us who tries to get them to see that federal laws should trump state laws when it comes to marriage will laugh even harder at them.

The battle over whether a state or the feds should control how laws are written isn’t new, nor will it ever go away. Federalism versus anti-federalism is one of the original wedge issues in this country, and we’re fighting it today. New York and Connecticut’s assault weapons bans are fine examples of why it’s plain silly to choose either federalism or anti-federalism exclusively. Because frankly, I don’t want the feds to have control over the weed issue while they’re still stuck in puritanical propaganda mode. And by the same token I don’t states controlling abortion laws if they’re going to use religious dogma in place of common sense and force women into back alleys or across state lines to get them.

Both liberals and conservatives would be better served getting back in touch with the parts of them that can see the pros and cons of both a strong federal government and competent, empowered state and local governments. It takes a village, after all, and so to a simple minded clowny buffoon like myself, it seems like logic would dictate we need a hybrid model of centralized versus decentralized government. We need the states to be able to call bullshit on the feds and vice versa, which is why most thinking, rational, sane people will look at today’s decision and say it makes total sense.

What would help me gain a whole lot of respect for gun rights advocates is if they supported this decision, to let Connecticut and New York keep their assault weapons bans until such point as the voters in each state could decide whether the bans should stay or go. That would show that intellectually speaking, they were honest enough to admit that this is a case that were the particulars different, they’d side with the states keeping the ability to regulate themselves.

If you’re thinking I should therefore admit that states have a right to keep those uppity gays and transgender people in the closet, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Civil liberties are the cornerstone of a free society, and while a gun might seem like a great way to defend them, the simple truth is that it’s pointless to own a gun if you live in a country that won’t let you do something so simple as shit or piss in the stall of your choosing. It does nothing for society to let someone own any gun they want to if they’re not allowed to marry any adult they want to.

Ultimately, things like this  make me wonder if we’ll ever reach a point of peace and balance on issues like abortion and gun rights in this country. One side will always want to exploit the levers of our federal and decentralized governments to get their agenda passed, which will always make the other side loathe (or pine for) federal oversight. People will use states’ rights to pummel minority populations or to push a pro-armament agenda to the point that it’s easier to get a semi-automatic rifle than it is to get an abortion if you’re raped. So maybe the founders really didn’t create the perfect governmental model and more tweaks are needed.

I find myself on the side of things that has me wishing we’d have the balls to pull off a constitutional convention. It seems pretty obvious to me that most Americans believe someone has the right to defend themselves, and that most Americans are fine with firearms being used for such purposes. But it also seems fairly obvious to me that most gun owners are far more willing to accept reasonable limits on their constitutional freedoms than the NRA and gun zealots would have you believe as well.

The ability to reform our government is, to me anyway, a million times more powerful than any armed insurrection could be. But before you go thinking I’m advocating just taking white out to the Second Amendment, save your angry key clacking…I’m not. I’m advocating that adults sit down and hammer out a new Second Amendment that inserts simple language to make it clear that weapons of war are not the same as weapons of self defense, no matter how much John Q. Bircher, President of Guns For Everyone Everywhere tells you otherwise.

A constitutional convention, with a brand new, Second Amendment v2.0, could have enormous benefits in this country. We could at least for now table the angry vitriol over guns and get on with finding common sense solutions. If instead of staying beholden to people who have been dead for over 200 years we took the reins of our destiny, we could easily retain the right to bear arms and the right to know people exercising that right aren’t going to exercise it all them or their loved ones…if we want to. Otherwise, gun nuts just have to get used to the fact that with Scalia rotting in Hell, the Second Amendment might just have to revert back to how it was treated before that legal charlatan masquerading as a deep thinker got his mitts on it.

So your call — do we take responsibility for shaping our own society, or do we stay beholden to arcane legalese and hope the fights over whom should get to oppress whom does’t finally rip us into tiny little shreds?



About James Schlarmann 1479 Articles
Comedian, writer, founding contributor of The Political Garbage Chute, holder of zero world records or lifetime achievement awards.
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