What happens when Democrats behave like Republicans

California’s Democratic governor has “directed his staff to collaborate with the legislature and attorney general to draft a bill” to offer cash bounties to citizen legal vigilantes who sue “anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts,” The Hill reported on Sunday, December 12, 2021 (read story here).

It won’t matter whether the Supreme Court extends Second Amendment protection to assault rifles, because private lawsuits aren’t state infringement of constitutional rights; at least, that’s the argument used by Texas Republicans who passed such a law targeting abortions, which are a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade.

Since then, some Democrats have threatened tit-for-tat, suggesting they’ll respond to the GOP’s assault on abortion rights by attacking gun rights in the same way. Gov. Newsom is the first governor to turn those threats into action, but he’s responding to more than just the Texas anti-abortion law, which the Supreme Court has left in place for the time being, despite its obvious affront to courts’ role in protecting constitutional rights. The Texas law was designed to deprive federal courts of jurisdiction by turning enforcement of unconstitutional laws into private civil actions. That shouldn’t last five minutes in a Supreme Court proceeding.

In June, federal judge Roger Benitez, a Bush appointee known for his determined opposition to gun control, overturned a California law banning the manufacture and sale of assault rifles, in a decision that notoriously compared AR-15s to “Swiss army knives.” Gov. Newsom aims to get around that ruling, and reinstate the ban, by using Republican tactics to take Benitez out of the loop.

I’m a lawyer, and to me, the idea of a state recruiting private citizens to sue strangers for exercising their constitutional rights is repulsive. It’s the legal equivalent of a sheriff handing a noose to a lynch mob and encouraging them to hang people who haven’t committed any crime. If constitutional rights can be attacked in this fashion, then nobody has any rights.

Going after gun rights with legal vigilantes is a way to get across to Republicans that “if you come for our rights, we’ll come for yours.” In short, tit-for-tat.

The idea of nuclear war repulses me, too. But I’m not for unilateral nuclear disarmament. Our safety lies in making nuclear-armed adversaries understand that if they come for our cities, we’ll hit theirs. Nobody in their right mind could possibly want that, so this is supposed to only act as a deterrent; but if deterrence fails and they nuke American cities, would you expect our leadership to nuke theirs? Would you? Should we?

Come for our rights, we’ll come for yours. It’s a simple principle, and not a new idea, merely an adaptation of an old one.

The problem is that Republicans aren’t as rational as the dictators in Moscow and Beijing. We’re at a place in this country where Democrats probably will have to pull the trigger on them, so to speak.

But if they nuke assault rifles, is that a bad thing? Certainly not as bad as cities reduced to smoking rubble. We’d miss the cities and the people in them. Most of us won’t miss AR-15s.

Photos: The Republican idiot judge (above right) who equated the lethality of an AR-15 with a Swiss army knife (below).

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  1. Mark Adams #

    There is a second amendment. There is of yet no abortion amendment. If there were no one could sue women getting an abortion in any state. As it is states an tell citizens to get a vaccine and they can tell women they will have an abortion, or cannot.

    Of course the California legislature would have to pass a bill and it may not happen Californians may love guns and current reps and senators may want to stay in office

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    The 2nd Amendment confers on “the people” a right to keep and bear arms as members of a “well regulated militia.” The individual right was created by conservative justices, and hasn’t always existed. Earlier Supreme Courts had no problem with Jim Crow laws that prohibited freed slaves and black people in general from owning guns. Thus, D.C. v. Heller is on no firmer footing than Roe v. Wade. But this article isn’t about interpreting the Constitution or the legal merits of those decisions. It’s about tit-for-tat politics, and using Republicans’ own tactics against them. Trade abortions for guns? That’s a trade I’ll make.