Thursday, March 26, 2009

Inside the Mind of Representative Wu

I regularly write my representative (David Wu) on issues before the Congress. I recently wrote Representative Wu about my concerned with certain provisions in H.R. 146, the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009. Gun Owners of America and other groups had put out alerts about some of these provisions. I received a form letter response from Representative Wu, but the contents of that response are disturbing in many ways. It offers a glimpse into the mind of an individual with clearly anti-Second leanings trying to retain office in a district with some strong bastions of Second Amendment support. What follows are some excerpts from his form letter, and my thoughts on each portion:

“H.R. 146 has been passed in both the House and the Senate. The Senate passed it with amendments, so the House will take up the amended bill again, most likely next week. Thus far, H.R. 146 does not repeal the current requirement that citizens carrying firearms or ammunition into National Parks carry a concealed weapons permit. I intend to vote for H.R. 146 without changing that requirement.”

The form letter was obviously written before the recent injunction on the new regulations. At this point, the letter is fairly non-committal, but what follows later in the letter takes a left hand turn into the Twilight Zone.

“I hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. At the same time, I also support taking a moderate, common-sense view of guns versus public safety. The most recent Supreme Court's ruling in Heller v. the District of Columbia supports this reasonable approach. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld previous findings by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which ruled in a 2-1 decision that provisions of the D.C. Code that prohibit persons from keeping handguns in their homes are unconstitutional in that they infringe upon the individual right to keep and bear arms. It is important to note that the Supreme Court limited their consideration and ruling to the question of whether the D.C. ban violated the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes.”

First Representative Wu tries to play the “sportsman” card. I honestly don’t know if the representative hunts or fishes in real life, but I do know that the Second Amendment is not there to protect duck hunting. It is there to ensure that America is an armed populace, and as an armed populace it can resist the forces of tyranny be they external or internal, civilian or military. Any cursory reading of the Framers papers (including The Federalist) backs that fact up. By playing the “sportsman” card, it implies that Representative Wu has trouble with the Second Amendment as anything more than a protection for hunters.

Next he mentions the Heller ruling. I covered the Heller decision in detail when it was first released and have read through it more than a few times. From these first few sentences it is clear that Representative Wu is taking a very narrow view of the decision in his political thought. This implication is resoundingly confirmed in the closing two paragraphs.

“Further, the Court confirmed the right of local legislative bodies to create regulatory gun laws and that while an individual right to gun ownership does exist under the Second Amendment, that right is not unlimited. The Court wrote, "[The Second Amendment right is] not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.[The Court's] opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." The Heller decision allows the government to regulate gun ownership without hindering the right to gun ownership.

“I support the Second Amendment to the Constitution, and as a sportsman and hunter, I have voted to protect the rights of gun owners. However, the Heller decision underscored the importance of the government's responsibility to regulate gun ownership. This decision is a balanced approach that reflects my long-held position on the matter. As Congress considers any legislation to regulate firearms, I will keep your views in mind.”

It seems as if Representative Wu views the Heller decision as a call for additional gun control. He also ignores much of the internal text of the decision, especially as it relates to bearing arms for personal defense which is discussed at length in the decision and directly relates to the ability of people to carry firearms on public lands.

Furthermore, Section III of the Heller decision (which Representative Wu quotes liberally from) is merely a non-exhaustive laundry list of what the Court was not ruling on because they were not points of law in contention in this case. The conclusion of the Court was this ruling didn’t automatically cast those provisions into doubt, but quite frankly they don’t have a lot of bearing on the issue I’d written Representative Wu about. I also don’t believe the Heller case at any point “underscored the importance of the government's responsibility to regulate gun ownership,” it merely indicated certain regulations were not impacted by the Heller decision. This represents very selective interpretation of the decision and the sort of mental gymnastics opponents of the Second Amendment use to validate their wrong-headed assertions.

Given growing Democratic opposition to the proposed “assault weapon ban” in Congress, I intend to test Representative Wu’s support of the Second Amendment and comprehension of the Heller decision by asking him to join Representative Ross and denounce calls for a new ban. I’m sure the response will be illuminating.

Until next time!!!

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