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Sen. Boxer displays serial hypocrisy on state sovereignty and guns

The federal government is supreme (unless it tries to enforce the 2nd Amendment against the states)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) intention, covered here yesterday, to introduce the "Pause for Safety Act," as a mechanism to forcibly disarm people without due process, is also a perfect illustration of her apparently blissful willingness to engage in rank hypocrisy. The "Pause for Safety Act," when actually introduced (there does not yet appear to be a bill number), will not be the first of Boxer's attempts to infringe on that which shall not be infringed.

In 2011, she introduced S. 176, the "Common Sense Concealed Carry Firearms Permit Act"--a name she presumably chose with a straight face. S. 176 would have expanded California's ultra-restrictive and abuse-prone "may issue" system of concealed carry permit issuance, with a requirement to demonstrate "good cause," nationwide. That system, remember, has recently been found by the usually very "progressive" 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to be unconstitutional.

Clearly, Boxer's hostility to the Second Amendment is matched by a similar dislike of the Tenth Amendment's proscription against federal laws assuming regulatory power not explicitly granted to the federal government by the Constitution. And that's where the hypocrisy comes in. It turns out, you see, that when federal legislation is introduced that requires states to relax their restrictions on the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, Boxer suddenly becomes an impassioned advocate of state sovereignty.

Back in 2009, during debate over language in an amendment introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD), that would establish nationwide concealed carry reciprocity, Boxer seemed almost to be attempting to channel John Taylor of Caroline, in her outrage over federal overreach. From Boxer's remarks as recorded in the Congressional Record of July 22, 2009:

This debate is not about the right to own a gun. That has been settled by the Supreme Court in the Heller case. It is about allowing States to determine their own laws. And I totally get why some more rural States with fewer people would have different laws on conceal and carry than a State of 38 million people, my home State of California. Leave us alone. Leave us alone. You want to have conceal and carry with very few requirements, fine.

[ . . . ]

So do not come down here and tell my State what we should be doing. I support your State. You should support my State. And that is exactly what Governor Schwarzenegger says. He says we have a right to write our own gun laws.

"Leave us alone. Leave us alone," indeed, Senator. Some will no doubt argue that if it is hypocritical to argue for the states' power to implement restrictive gun laws while simultaneously advocating strict federal gun laws with which states must comply, then it is equally hypocritical to argue against federal power to enforce oppressive gun laws in states that want nothing to do with such laws, while simultaneously arguing for federal power to enforce the people's rights against onerous state gun laws.

That argument, however, ignores the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Supreme Court's McDonald v. Chicago decision which found that the Second Amendment is incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment, and is thus enforceable against state and local governments, as well as against the feds. Granted, the Supreme Court has so far remained silent about the Second Amendment as it applies outside the home, but if the "keep" in "keep and bear arms" is a Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right, then how can the "bear" not be so (although there is certainly no guarantee that the Court will not invent a justification for ignoring the right to bear arms)?

The intent here, by the way, is not to argue that a federal concealed carry reciprocity law is necessarily something gun rights advocates should pursue. The dangers of such a course cannot be easily discounted. That, though, is a debate for another day.

The point is that Boxer is generally an enthusiastic backer of federal government über alles, particularly when draconian federal gun laws are proposed. When federal law would interfere with states' oppressive gun laws, however, she suddenly turns into an Anti-Federalist for a day. Let's hope that the cognitive dissonance is physically painful.

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