A VIEW FROM HERE - While finding stupid things on the internet generally falls into the non-news category of dog bites man, sometimes the stupidity is so prevalent and so seemingly obvious that it is like successive pacts of wild dogs rampaging through Manhattan.
While Yours Truly’s snippet of the Internet is small, a friend daily forwards me a ton of right wing and left wing on-line newspapers and websites. I also follow not only Los Angeles but also the beleaguered city of Rochester NY. Recently, a recurring theme is that laws which by their very enactment do not prevent the harm which they are intended to combat are worthless and hence should not exist.
Repetitively, I see comments that laws to regulate who may use guns and what type guns people may own are not constitutional since people still use guns to kill other people – hence the conclusion the laws are not only worthless but also an infringement on people’s rights.
Societies make laws to curb behavior which they wish to suppress. This principle does not raise the question whether the objectionable behavior is in fact good or bad. People simply do not make laws prohibiting non-existent behavior. Presently at least, there is no law forbidding men to become pregnant.
Laws usually have adverse consequences for breaking them. This fact reflects two obvious situations: (1) passing a law is not a magical incantation that prevents the behavior from occurring, and (2) one purpose of the penalty is to deter people from breaking the law.
The huge role that sentencing plays in a criminal trials highlights that penalties are important, and thus, after someone has been convicted, a lot of time and effort is devoted to the proper punishment. Hopefully, Americans have learned the folly of mandatory penalties.
Rochester, New York has tons of crime - lots of car-jackings, robberies and murderers. Yet, each time someone proposes laws reducing the access to guns, there are tons of objections that gun laws are worthless since criminals do not obey gun laws. By that reasoning, since muggers still attack people, we should have no laws against mugging.
How Laws Are Supposed to Function
(1) The passage of a law indicates that the objectionable behavior is occurring, and people want it to stop
(2) When people break the law, law enforcement may take action against the offender.
Unless there is an existing law, no one may be arrested for breaking it. The degree and type of punishment express the strength of society’s disapproval of the forbidden behavior and also provide a basis to remove certain people from society in order to protect others. Los Angeles did not shake a finger at Charlie Manson and say, “it’s not nice to murder” and let him return to his Helter-Skelter plan.
This understanding of how laws work is so elementary that even school children understand it. Then, I happened upon an article in The New Yorker, August 27, 2022, Justice Alito's Crusade Against a Secular America Isn't Over, by Margaret Talbot. She relates that in his concurring opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U.S. ___ (June 2022), Justice Alito wrote:
“Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years? Post, at 4–5. Does the dissent think that laws like New York’s prevent or deter such atrocities? Will a person bent on carrying out a mass shooting be stopped if he knows that it is illegal to carry a handgun outside the home? And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.” NY State Rifle Ass’n
So, Justice Alito Is the Origin of the Wave of Stupidity
Justice Alito thinks that unless a law itself magically prevents all occurrences of the evils which the law seeks to avert, it has no purpose. At issue was whether New York State’s requirement that in order to obtain a concealed gun permit, one needed to have a “reasonable basis” to carry a concealed weapon.
Then, Alito descends to a level of illogic which could be used to impose a conservatorship upon him.
“What is the relevance of statistics about the use of guns to commit suicide? See post, at 5–6. Does the dissent think that a lot of people who possess guns in their homes will be stopped or deterred from shooting themselves if they cannot lawfully take them outside?”
How did such a bizarre thought get inserted into Alito brain? Who other than Alito believed that New York State’s regulations on concealed carry guns outside the home were designed to prevent suicides inside the home? The dissent had merely provided a comprehensive background on gun violence before its analysis of the specific regulation which limited who may carry concealed guns in public places. It is common to provide a wide picture of a general situation so that the specific case before the court has a proper frame of reference. Alito came up with the cockamamie idea that restricting felons and others from carrying concealed guns outside the home was being justified by stopping suicide inside homes.
Reliance of Authority Destroys Brain Cells
While our Constitution compels society to adhere to the rulings of the Supreme Court, it does not mandate abdication of the mind. It seems safe to assume that since mankind’s origin, reliance on authority rather than on one’s own thought processes is part of human nature. On the other hand, the main tool we have to combat authoritarianism is thinking for ourselves. As the Declaration of Independence says, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [inalienable rights], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” Both GOP and Dems need to realize that their own leaders’ power lust has become destructive to everyone’s inalienable rights. Neither GOP nor Dems can continue to accept the ravings of their own leaders.
(Richard Lee Abrams has been an attorney, a Realtor and community relations consultant as well as a CityWatch contributor. You may email him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed by Mr. Abrams are solely his and not necessarily those of CityWatch.)