In praise of the Second Amendment
The 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller ended the long debate over the meaning of the Second Amendment. The court declared the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right, based on the inherent right of self-defense.
Along with the Heller decision came the dramatic rise in concealed carry permits in states with a “shall issue” law. A shall issue law requires the state to issue the permit to carry a concealed weapon with some minimal requirements such as a gun safety course, barring something serious on your record. In Nevada more than 56,000 concealed carry permits have been issued.
Nevada is also an open carry state. Political rallies often feature citizens openly carrying pistols and rifles. Sometimes a congressman or state representatives is there, without an entourage of heavily armed bodyguards, but rather feeling secure in the presence of an armed citizenry. That is what a Republic should look like!
The latest studies confirm that contrary to opponents’ predictions, crime is lower in states that allow shall issue concealed carry. The new police chief of chaotic Detroit recently said he believes that an armed citizenry is important for public safety, and that crime has dropped by 7 percent even without a well functioning police presence because citizens can legally pack heat to defend their homes.
Contrast this with the increase in unjustified violence committed by the police. SWAT teams are now present in almost every jurisdiction. While so far minimally used in Northern and rural Nevada, in many places SWAT teams are used for too many routine procedures, such as serving drug warrants and even enforcing code violations. SWAT team raids often lead to escalated violence and the deaths of innocent civilians.
The militarization of the police is extremely worrisome. Police departments often accept military surplus gear from the Department of Defense including armed personnel carriers and other heavy equipment. Shootings of family pets by heavily armed police and the gratuitous use of Tazers and mace is commonplace. This militarization of the police has inspired a rare Third Amendment lawsuit in Henderson. Police commandeered a home for a stakeout, disrupting the family. Is the Third Amendment about more than simply quartering British soldiers? The quartered troops enforced the king’s general warrants. Is that similar to the militarized police we have today?
Las Vegas citizens are in a state of fear of their police. Las Vegas Metro has a very poor civil rights record. Las Vegas is the only entity in Nevada that requires gun registration. But while citizens are required to register their guns, the Las Vegas Metro police are often accused of using their weapons without justification. The number of police shootings and other misconduct is higher in Las Vegas than in any other jurisdictions except Houston and Chicago, according to this Wikipedia entry, http://tinyurl.com/mr3xmdt.
Recently, Jesus Arevalo became the first Las Vegas police officer to be fired for killing an unarmed man. The victim was a Gulf War veteran with PTSD who did not obey a police order fast enough. Today’s activists no longer rely on the outdated tactic of “Civilian Review Boards” to check the police. Increasingly, social media sites like Nevada Cop Block, http://nvcopblock.org, monitor the police. Citizens use cell phone cameras to record police stops and arrests. Police sometimes harass those who record them, but interference with the public’s right to record their actions has been rebuffed in the courts. Libertarians are unlike law-and-order conservatives in that we do not believe that a badge and a uniform confer special privileges. We need to curb police abuse with powerful new social media technologies.