This past weekend, I spent part of my quality time practicing at a local gun range. Of course, in doing so, I exercised my Second Amendment right to self-defense. As I was shooting, I was reminded of some recent remarks by the ersatz Police Superintendant of Chicago, Garry McCarthy. Last year, I wrote on these pages about Superintendant McCarthy. ( http://touchstonemag.com/merecomments/2012/03/chicago-chapter-of-cair-admires-chicago-police-superintendant/ ). However, during his relatively short term as Chicago Police Superintendant, he has made some bizarre observations. For instance, speaking at Father Michael Pfleger’s St. Sabina’s Parish in Chicago, he blamed the street violence and ubiquity of illegal guns in African-American and Hispanic communities to “government-sponsored racism” akin to “slavery, segregation, black codes [and] Jim Crow.” He also blamed Sarah Palin as well. (No, I am not making that up!) Of course, “government-sponsored racism” did begin with slavery and Jim Crow, but there is a bit of a logical leap from those policies to the availability of illegal guns in Chicago, and children murdering children.
Then Superintendant McCarthy, appearing recently on a Chicago Sunday morning talk show, stated that lawful firearm owners are agents of “political corruption.” (Who would have known? I wonder whether he thinks there are other agents of political corruption operating in Chicago.) He made this assertion because firearm owners who lobby their elected representatives or who donate money to political campaigns are engaged in “corruption.” Of course, there is a minor detail that the First Amendment affirms the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This is particularly important when citizens seek a redress of their constitutionally-protected rights. Then to compound his constitutional ignorance, he said that judges and legislators should rely upon public opinion when interpreting our nation’s Constitution. This, of course, is serious foolishness, as there have been periods of our nation’s history when, for example, public opinion polls would oppose non-landowners, former slaves, or women’s rights to vote. Or that the forced relocation and genocide of Native Americans would be an appropriate government policy. Or that a poll last year found just over one-half of Americans (51%) of Americans believe that the government is more of a threat to individual rights than a protector of them. Of course, there would be many other possible examples.
Then, Superintendant McCarthy, after dispensing with the First Amendment, went on to target the Second Amendment. His opinion was that the Second Amendment limited citizens to owning smooth-bore muskets (presumably he considers only muskets that front-load the wadding, bullet, and powder by ramrod as constitutional, but I am making that inference). Of course, if Superintendant McCarthy freezes constitutional protections to the technology of our nation’s early history, then would freedom of speech be limited to newspapers, pamphlets and handbills published on hand-press devices? And 18th century notions of what constitutes “cruel and unusual” punishments might not include prisons with Nautilus gym equipment, HD Sony Bravia 46” televisions, big law libraries, and movie nights. (By the way, did you know that the Federal Prison Camp at Leavenworth, Kansas, has an organic and self-sustaining farm as part of the prison’s Therapy and Mentoring Horticulture Program? But I digress.) Or perhaps, under Superintendant McCarthy’s view, abortions could only be constitutional if performed on late 18th century medical instruments? In addition, Superintendant McCarthy said that the Second Amendment also supports mandatory liability insurance for firearm owners, and the mandatory application of GPS tracking devices to civilian-owned firearms. (I wonder why the Founders did not expressly include that in the Second Amendment. Superintendant McCarthy did not explain.)
As you can imagine, Superintendant McCarthy is not a formally educated man. But he might enjoy taking the free online Constitution 101 course from Hillsdale College before he makes his next public presentation.