Law & the Courts

The Corner

Frum Control

David Frum offers up the following paragraph in one of two monomaniacal posts lamenting America’s Second Amendment:

We’ll learn more about when the Alexandria murderer decided on his crime, and whether his weapon was legally acquired. The commonwealth of Virginia certainly did its utmost to ease his way, however, by conferring the legal right to move about with an openly brandished rifle. (The City of Alexandria, though, where the shooting took place, bars the open carry of assault weapons.)

This is a truly amazing complaint. If I’ve got it right, the problem here is that the shooter would have been allowed to move around parts of the state he wasn’t in while openly carrying a rifle? Or, put another way, while the shooter was legally prohibited from carrying his weapon in full view in the place he actually committed his crime, he wouldn’t have been breaking the law had he been elsewhere — and that’s bad. Moreover, because he would have been allowed to carry his rifle in plain sight in a place he wasn’t, his “way” to the place he actually was was somehow “eased,” the pernicious state of Virginia having ”conferred” upon him an unrelated right.


And what point does Frum think he’s making? As Frum himself concedes, “the City of Alexandria, though, where the shooting took place, bars the open carry of assault weapons.” And yet — surprise! — the shooter did it anyway. In addition, he broke a host of city rules, and he broke the most serious law of all when he fired his weapon repeatedly at a group of human beings. I honestly cannot fathom what must go on in somebody’s mind for them to look at an incident such as this one and conclude that the state helped the perpetrator along by not passing laws he broke in a place he didn’t go. Does he think the shooter was on a Frodo-esque pilgrimage?

(While we’re correcting mistakes, it should be pointed out that nobody in America enjoys the right to “brandish” a rifle. In the law, the word “brandish” means something discrete. It is not another word for “carry.”)

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