Two sentences in a Newsday story suggest that Rudy Giuliani would be wise to brush up his familiarity with gun law and clarify his views…
“As far as I am concerned, you can have a concealed weapon,” he said. “The Constitution of the United States in the Second Amendment gives you an individual right to bear arms; that individual right is as strong as your individual right to free speech, free assembly, being safe against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Outside the event, Giuliani said his test came from a recent federal court ruling overturning a tough District of Columbia gun ban, which set what he considered “reasonable” limits on gun ownership. He said he believes that individual states should decide who can carry weapons.
I’m a fan of the former mayor, but even I have to say this viewpoint is almost Kerryesque in its seeming contradiction – you have a Constitutional right to a weapon, but the states can decide whether you can carry it or not.
Illinois and Wisconsin have bans on concealed carry. Other states, including New York, for example, have restrictions that make it difficult to obtain a concealed carry permit.
And as a former District of Columbia resident, I’m bothered by Rudy calling the D.C. gun ban ”reasonable.”* It only fits that definition if you think a reasonable government policy is to make sure the only people with guns in the city are violent criminals.
* UPDATE: The Rudy campaign notes that Rudy was saying the decision striking down D.C.’s gun ban was reasonable, not the gun ban itself. Thank you, Newsday, for writing so unclearly that it made Rudy’s opinion seem the opposite of what it was.
The campaign sends on this clairification, a transcription of his comments to the reporter.
GIULIANI: But if you go back and read that opinion you will see that he gives two illustrations of what could be reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms. And he says reasonable restrictions on the right to be arms, and he doesn’t say these are exclusive, but he uses them as examples, would be if you have a history of mental illness or if you have a history, I don’t remember if he says committing crimes or committing felonies. I was talking about the Constitutional right.
REPORTER: So who should regulate the carrying of concealed weapons?
GIULIANI: State by state. And some states are gonna be more stringent than others, you have to live with that, but every state has to comply with the Constitution. I don’t get to determine that, courts get to determine that. I was making reference to the decision, not to what the law of New York should be or what the law of, I guess, we were in Vermont or New Hampshire at the time, we were in Vermont at the time. And maybe the laws of Vermont and New Hampshire are different, I don’t know.
REPORTER: But to be clear, if a person meets those two tests, do you believe that they should be allowed to carry a handgun in a concealed fashion?
GIULIANI: No, that isn’t to be clear, that’s to be unclear. To be clear is those are the two Constitutional criteria that [Judge Silverman] announced as reasonable things you can impose on the right to bear arms. Now states can get to impose other things on it. And some states are gonna be stricter than others. But then they have to get tested by the Supreme Court and determine did they go too far or did they didn’t. I have always been very much in favor of states making that decision.
That is a clearer position than the original article makes it sound. A state would, presumably, not be able to outright ban concealed carry; their restrictions, based on mental health, criminal record, etc., would have to meet a judicial review to ensure they didn’t amount to a de facto ban on gun ownership or concealed carry.