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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Presser v. Illinois is the progunner's worst nightmare.

Of course, Scalia dismissed it in his exposition of mendacity called District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), but he also dismissed such pearls as:
With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.
and

To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, "bear arms," is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, "that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law." Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive
Since they "weren't helpful".

That's putting it mildly--they totally contradict your position.

After all, why not dismiss anything which shows that what you are saying is total bollocks?

The American people are too happily ignorant to notice anyway.

Anyway...

Presser basically is making the same tired argument we hear over and over about being part of an unorganised militia, except that term didn't have actual currency back then in US Federal law.  The court tossed that argument since Presser wasn't part of the enrolled militia.

Even better, Presser actually addressed the incorporation issue.  If Heller is a joke, then McDonald v. Chicago is even worse of a joke since Presser came to the correct conclusion about the matter:
We think it clear that the sections under consideration, which only forbid bodies of men to associate together as military organizations, or to drill or parade with arms in cities [116 U.S. 252, 265]   and towns unless authorized by law, do not infringe the right of the people to keep and bear arms. But a conclusive answer to the contention that this amendment prohibits the legislation in question lies in the fact that the amendment is a limitation only upon the power of congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state.
Yeah, the Second Amendment relates to congress' power under article I, Section 8, Clauses 15 & 16--not state power.

I thought that Alito was on the ball when he asked if congress' power was "plenary" in the Heller.  Yeah, it is which means that the answer is:
The right is related to the militia and congress' power to arm it
Seriously, you had it right in US v Rybar, 103 F.3d 273 (3d Cir. 1996), WHAT MADE YOU GO FOR THE INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST POSITION??? DIDN'T THINK YOU WOULD GET CAUGHT????

Back to the story,  Presser concerned people openly carrying while pretending to be a militia and claiming their Second Amendment right, but the court swatted it down saying:
It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government. But, as already stated, we think [116 U.S. 252, 266]   it clear that the sections under consideration do not have this effect.
Oh dear, it's that nasty civic right interpretation.

And, unlike Justice Stevens' version, this one actually got it right on incorporation.

Presser even compares the First Amendment claim:
We have not been referred to any statute of the United States which confers upon the plaintiff in error the privilege which he asserts. The only clause in the constitution which, upon any pretense, could be said to have any relation whatever to his right to associate with others as a military company, is found in the first amendment, which declares that 'congress shall make no laws ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.' This is a right which it was held in U. S. v. Cruikshank, above cited, was an attribute of national citizenship, and, as such, under the protection of, and guarantied by, the United States. But it was held in the same case that the right peaceably to assemble was not protected by the clause referred to, unless the purpose of the assembly was to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The right voluntarily to associate together as a military company or organization, or to drill or parade with arms, without, and independent of, an act of congress or law of the state authorizing the same, is not an attribute of national citizenship. Military organization and military drill and parade under arms are subjects especially under the control of the government of every country. They cannot be claimed as a right independent of law.
By now, I am laughing my arse off since this case is a serious nugget when looked at in relation to the farce that is Heller-McDonald.  Combine Presser with Miller, and Heller-McDonald is the serious odd man out.

As I have been pointing out, it is a tough stretch to say that carrying weapons in public outside the national defence context is protected (again, the US Constitution makes it clear it addresses NATIONAL Defence and no where mentions self-defence).

I keep mentioning that if the law is silent on the topic, one cannot assume or imply it is somehow addressed, which is something else Presser mentions:
Under our political system they are subject to the regulation and control of the state and federal governments, acting in due regard to their respective prerogatives and powers. The constitution and laws of the United States will be searched in vain for any support to the view that these rights are privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States independent of some specific legislation on the subject.
I keep wishing that someone with more academic clout/prestige would take up these arguments, but it seems that I am the little boy who is saying the emperor has no clothes here.

But, I have loads of evidence he is as naked as a jaybird.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Going Armed to the Terror of the People

If people are going to try and claim that there is some form of "Second Amendment right" to carry a weapon in public outside the context of actual militia service (like it or not, Presser v. Illinois, 16 U.S. 252 [1886] seems to be quite on point that it is not protected).

This is a common law offense. Common law made it clear that it was contrary to law to go about in public. , "the offence of riding or going armed with dangerous or unusual weapons, is a crime against the public peace, by terrifying the good people of the land; and is particularly prohibited by the statute of  Northampton, 2 Edward 3d, ch. 3d, upon pain of forfeiture of the arms and imprisonment during the Kings pleasure." 

It is hard to imagine a right that would somehow contradict prohibited and antisocial activity.  Indeed, the crime of Going Armed to the Terror of the People consists of the following elements:
A person guilty of this offense
(1)  arms himself or herself with an unusual and dangerous weapon
(2)  for the purpose of terrifying others and
(3)  goes about on public highways
(4)  in a manner to cause terror to the people.

Element (1). In  State v. Huntly, 25 N.C. 418 (1843), the court held that any gun is an unusual and dangerous weapon for purposes of this offense. Huntly, 25 N.C. at 422. In that case it was argued that a gun cannot constitute an unusual weapon, “for there is scarcely a man in the community who does not own and occasionally use a gun of some sort.” Id. The court rejected that argument, concluding: “A gun is an ‘unusual weapon,’ wherewith to be armed and clad. No man amongst us carries it about with him, as one of his every day accoutrements–as a part of his dress–and never we trust will the day come when any deadly weapon will be worn or wielded in our peace loving and law-abiding State, as an appendage of manly equipment.” Id.
Element (4). The offense of affray involves fighting in public to the terror of the people. For purposes of that offense, cases hold that if members of the public experience fear, the “to the terror of the people” element is satisfied. In re May, 357 N.C. 423, 428 (2003). In an unpublished case involving a charge of going armed to the terror of the people, the North Carolina Court of Appeals found this element satisfied where the defendant shot his gun while driving closely behind another vehicle on a public highway. State v. Toler, 716 S.E.2d 875 (N.C. App. 2011) (unpublished) (rejecting the defendant’s argument that his actions were not “to the terror of the people” where the only people involved were those in the victim’s car, and stating: “We find this to be substantial evidence that this behavior was intended to be to the terror of the people and was in fact to the terror of the people. The fact that a limited number of witnesses testified regarding Defendant’s actions does not change the character of those actions.”).

In other words, if one causes fear in the general public then you are guilty of this offence.

As I said before,  William Rawle explained this in relation to the Second Amendment in his treatise "A View of the Constitution of the United States", 125--26 1829 (2d ed.):
"This right ought not, however, in any government, to be abused to the disturbance of the public peace.

An assemblage of persons with arms, for an unlawful purpose, is an indictable offence, and even the carrying of arms abroad by a single individual, attended with circumstances giving just reason to fear that he purposes to make an unlawful use of them, would be sufficient cause to require him to give surety of the peace. If he refused he would be liable to imprisonment."
While some people would like to claim that carrying weapons in public is covered by the Second Amendment, Presser v. Illinois, 16 U.S. 252 [1886]
It cannot be successfully questioned that the state governments, unless restrained by their own constitutions, have the power to regulate or prohibit associations and meetings of the people, except in the case of peaceable assemblies to perform the duties or exercise the privileges of citizens of the United States, and have also the power to control and regulate the organization, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations, except when such bodies or associations, are [116 U.S. 252, 268]   authorized by the militia laws of the United States. The exercise of this power by the states is necessary to the public peace, safety, and good order. To deny the power would be to deny the right of the state to disperse assemblages organized for sedition and treason, and the right to suppress armed mobs bent on riot and rapine.
Although, one thing that the Presser court made clear was that the Second Amendment right was tied to militia service and that carrying weapons outside that context was not covered by the Amendment.
The right voluntarily to associate together as a military company or organization, or to drill or parade with arms, without, and independent of, an act of congress or law of the state authorizing the same, is not an attribute of national citizenship. Military organization and military drill and parade under arms are subjects especially under the control of the government of every country. They cannot be claimed as a right independent of law. Under our political system they are subject to the regulation and control of the state and federal governments, acting in due regard to their respective prerogatives and powers. The constitution and laws of the United States will be searched in vain for any support to the view that these rights are privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States independent of some specific legislation on the subject.
As I have said before,  I'm rather surprised that Presser has been neglected in Second Amendment jurisprudence.  Although, maybe surprise is the wrong word to use since this decision so clearly supports the "Civic Right" interpretation of the Second Amendment by pointing out that the right to bear arms is only protected when it relates to militia service.

Presser was doing what open carry advocated do these days and walking about claiming his Second Amendment right to bear arms in public. He was not engaging in menacing activity (although the common law does not really require actual menace, the mere fact one is carrying a weapon in public is enough to prove menace).  To be quite frank, Presser is the gun rights fanatic's worst nightmare.

I would add that any "incorporation" issue is also addressed in this decision by pointing out that the Second Amendment right DOES apply to the states if they were to abridge the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of militias under the aspect of Article I, Section 8, clauses 15 & 16, not private uses.

As US v. Miller said, [it is] With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.  Which means, as William Rawle pointed out, the first and second clauses of the Second Amendment are corollaries and must be considered together.

There is no right to go about armed outside the context of national service and the law should not be misinterpreted to say there is. Additionally, one cannot claim a right to terrorise people.

See also:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

William Rawle on the Second Amendment

NOTE:   The right judicially created by the Heller-McDonald cases does not extend beyond the curtilage (boundaries of the home).

I've been quoting William Rawle a lot lately since it is pretty much a given that there is no right to walk about carrying weapons in such a way that is likely to commit a disturbance of the peace  (see Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Chapter XI. Of Offences Against the Public Peace).

William Rawle explains this in relation to the Second Amendment in his treatise "A View of the Constitution of the United States", 125--26 1829 (2d ed.):
"This right ought not, however, in any government, to be abused to the disturbance of the public peace.

An assemblage of persons with arms, for an unlawful purpose, is an indictable offence, and even the carrying of arms abroad by a single individual, attended with circumstances giving just reason to fear that he purposes to make an unlawful use of them, would be sufficient cause to require him to give surety of the peace. If he refused he would be liable to imprisonment."
In other words, people are well within their rights to call the police if they see someone carrying a weapon in public:  after all, that is the police's job to deal with people who could possibly be causing a breech of the peace.

In fact, there are some seriously good legal precedent that say someone carrying a weapon in public must give surety, or at least have some form of licence.

While the Cruikshank case isn't really useful for Second Amendment precedent, the Presser case sure as hell is where it says that the government has the right to licence the carrying of weapons outside the Militia context.

Also, it's interesting that people cite to Rawle and call his treatise a landmark text.  They even mention that Rawle says that the Second Clause is a corollary clause, yet they miss that the word "corollary" implies a relationship:
a statement that follows readily from a previous statement.
In other words, there is a relationship between the first and second clauses of the Second Amendment, whether people want to admit that these days.  The Miller Court reiterated that when it said, "With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."

And, as Presser pointed out:
It cannot be successfully questioned that the state governments, unless restrained by their own constitutions, have the power to regulate or prohibit associations and meetings of the people, except in the case of peaceable assemblies to perform the duties or exercise the privileges of citizens of the United States, and have also the power to control and regulate the organization, drilling, and parading of military bodies and associations, except when such bodies or associations, are [116 U.S. 252, 268]   authorized by the militia laws of the United States. The exercise of this power by the states is necessary to the public peace, safety, and good order. To deny the power would be to deny the right of the state to disperse assemblages organized for sedition and treason, and the right to suppress armed mobs bent on riot and rapine.
I find it hard to say that carrying arms in public outside of the militia/national defence context is in any way a protected act by the Second Amendment.

Heller is wrongly decided and does not properly follow the Second Amendment Jurisprudence as set out by the Supreme Court.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Touring Test?

OK, this is a pun on the Turing Test for artificial intelligence named for Alan Turing (who was recently given a posthumous pardon by the queen).

This robot is attempting to hitchhike across Canada:


More on this: