First, a quote: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited … It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
If we were to use this as a yardstick to determine if Initiative 1639, the gun control measure passed by voters last year, is constitutional, then I’d have to conclude yes. There is nothing in I-1639 that stops me from buying a gun. It will require — among other things — a background check and waiting period. But none of these add up to denying me the right to own a gun.
On Saturday, Feb 1, the group Patriot Prayer held a gathering here on Whidbey Island called “Enforce the Second Amendment: Island County.” It was specifically directed toward I-1639, which they believe is unconstitutional.
Of course, Patriot Prayer is free to believe whatever they wish about the Constitution and I-1639. And the same is true for all of us. What they can not do is presume to speak for me or the majority of voters in this state, and they cannot decide for the rest of us which laws are constitutional and which are not, despite how they feel about them.
That is decided by our courts.
One way they’ve been furthering their position is by asking local elected officials in our state to adopt an ordinance or oath that says they will not enforce “any unconstitutional laws, particularly I-1639.”
There are two issues I have with this. First, all people elected in our state already take an oath where they swear to support the constitutions of our country and our state, and all local ordinances. So, what Patriot Prayer is asking for is redundant and is not needed.
The second reason gets to the real heart of matter: Patriot Prayer is not just asking for elected officials to support the Constitution, but to support Patriot Prayer’s interpretation of it.
And if elected officials buy into this it means they are going beyond their jobs of enforcing the law, and are instead assigning themselves the role of interpreting the law, and then deciding what parts of it they agree or don’t agree with.
This is going far beyond their elected roles and duties, and is in fact neither supporting our constitution, nor supporting our democracy.
Getting back to the quote above. Whom did it come from? Was it Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or any number of other extremists, anarchist, leftist, chicken littles, or knee-jerkers? No.
The quote is from the late, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom I think was far more familiar with the Constitution than I am. And I strongly suspect he knew more about it than Patriot Prayer does as well.