Defending a constitutional right takes many forms, and every so often, it comes in the form of a verbal bow shot in what might be called “enemy territory” where the idea of exercising the right to keep and bear arms seems as alien as Michael Rennie’s “Klaatu” character emerging from a flying saucer in the classic The Day The Earth Stood Still. Veteran editor and journalist Seth Lipsky, founder of the New York Sun – and writing in the New York Post – nailed it recently when he discussed the potentially national ramifications of the recent federal court ruling against the District of Columbia’s “good reason” requirement for obtaining a handgun carry permit.
Said Lipsky: “It’s a big deal because the ‘good reason’ hurdle is being used by municipalities to evade the Bill of Rights. What would be the reaction were Americans required to show “good reason” before they were allowed to pray in public? Or before they were allowed to speak on a street corner? Or before they were allowed to publish or read newspapers? Or, for that matter, to demand to see a search warrant. Or to remain silent when arrested. All are protected under the Bill of Rights. No questions asked.”
Quoting Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and founder of CCRKBA’s sister organization – and winning plaintiff in the District lawsuit – Lipsky seemed to agree wholeheartedly with Gottlieb’s assertion that this was “a devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy.”
Lipsky founded the New York Sun, which operated as a print edition from 2002 to 2008 and is now available on- line. He proved to be no slouch when reminding Empire State officials, and especially those in the Big Apple who perpetuate the city’s Draconian gun laws, that New York has gone a long way downhill when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. New York City makes it financially and bureaucratically difficult, if not impossible, for the vast majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain a carry permit.
Lipsky’s opinion column reached a lot of people, and perhaps raised a lot of eyebrows in the process. That’s frequently how people defend one right, or all of them; by education and provocation, and sometimes a verbal slap with a wet towel.
Writing about federal Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr ’s 23-page order declaring that the “good reason” requirement did not pass the constitutional smell test, Lipsky stated, “He blocked the city from enforcing its handgun law, and he set an “expedited schedule” to resolve outstanding details.
“That suggested the judge was tired of local officials trying to resist several Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment,” Lipsky’s commentary continued. “The Heller case, for example, established that the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ is an individual right, not that of a militia. “Heller, though, was also acase from Washington, DC, which is governed, ultimately, by Congress,” he reminded readers. “A second landmark decision, known as McDonald v. Chicago, required the states to obey the Second Amendment.
“Could this pattern be repeated in the case just decided,” Lipsky mused. “It may be that the local authorities won’t appeal, lest they risk setting a national precedent. It’s also possible to imagine that Congress will wake up to what’s happening in its own back yard.”
“This is an irony for New York,” Lipsky lamented. “The most progressive state is one of the most regressive when it comes to the Second Amendment. And it’s a far cry from New York’s roots; the state ratified the Constitution only on the condition that it would protect the right to bear arms. It carefully marked that condition in a famous statement put out in Poughkeepsie at the time the Constitution was ratified.
“It asserted that the ‘people have the right to keep and bear arms’,” he reminded readers. “It said nothing about them having to show good reason.”