Fox News commentator Allen West (a non-lawyer) wrote an article recently saying that since the Supreme Court gay marriage case says this must be applied over the entire country, then clearly it has set a precedent to allow for “conceal and carry” in all states.
This shows a real misunderstanding of the law.
First of all, the gay marriage case had to do with the 14th amendment, which prohibits discrimination against people. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has called corporations “people” it’s not about to call guns, cars, or toasters “people” any time soon.
The analysis used in the gay marriage case is old. Like 50 years old. This same analysis was previously used to give rights to blacks and then later to women. It has just been expanded to include gays and lesbians. It is not a new analysis.
If the gun lobby could use this same analysis to do what the gun lovers want, they would have done it 50 years ago.
The short version: If the government wants to take away the rights of someone, the law must pass the “strict scrutiny” test:
- It must be justified by a compelling governmental interest. While the Courts have never brightly defined how to determine if an interest is compelling, the concept generally refers to something necessary or crucial, as opposed to something merely preferred. Examples include national security, preserving the lives of multiple individuals, and not violating explicit constitutional protections.
- The law or policy must be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest. If the government action encompasses too much (overbroad) or fails to address essential aspects of the compelling interest, then the rule is not considered narrowly tailored.
- The law or policy must be the least restrictive means for achieving that interest. That is, there cannot be a less restrictive way to effectively achieve the compelling government interest. The test will be met even if there is another method that is equally the least restrictive. Some legal scholars consider this “least restrictive means” requirement part of being narrowly tailored, though the Court generally evaluates it separately. [NOTE: I copied this from wikipedia, but it’s correct.]
It is very difficult for laws that discriminate to pass this test. The Supreme Court did not change this test at all, but merely added gays and lesbians to the test (at least as far as marriage goes — other discriminatory laws against gays and lesbians will be challenged under this test soon and should also fail, using this case as precedence).
This test is not used to determine whether everyone has the exact same rights as they travel from state to state — but West (and the people who foolishly believe him) are convincing themselves that they are being discriminated against because they don’t have the same rights as someone in another state.
Under this logic, there would be no more federalism at all. Using that logic, any law passed in any state would have to be enforced in every state.
Does that mean that marijuana would be legal everywhere? Hooray! Oh wait, we’d first have to decide which state laws apply — What if it’s decided that the state laws that prohibit guns from being carried everywhere are the laws that apply over the entire country? Why are these people assuming it’s the law they want that will prevail?
“But but,” the gun lovers scream, “the court said that you have to give gays these rights because it’s based on ‘certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy’ and dadgummit, it’s our personal choice to buy guns without background checks and carry them into churches and shopping malls whenever we want to!” Besides being ridiculous and not at all what the gay marriage case was about, this is also not what the 14th amendment is about.
Seriously, I’m not even going to dignify this by explaining why. If you can’t see why there is a difference between the fundamental right of all adults to get married and the right to own an inanimate object, then you’ve become so brainwashed by your guns and the gun lobby that there is no hope for you.