Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gun Control - How the Second Amendment Was Assaulted

America can thank Robert A Levy for initiating an assault on the Second Amendment in 2002 that led to the Supreme Court decision in 2008 which has created a society spinning out of control. Born in 1941 to parents who owned a small hardware store, Levy is a great example of how a person can succeed in America no matter what their origins. 

He had made a fortune as founder and CEO of CDA Investment Technologies. At 50 he retired to study law. Within 6 years of graduating he was a Senior Fellow in Constitution Studies of the Cato Institute and a Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law.

He wrote for top US publications and appeared on radio and TV. He co-authored a book The Dirty Dozen about how 12 Supreme Court Judges eroded personal freedom and expanded Government control. The book wasn’t a best seller but it was well-reviewed. I guess the man was looking to make a name for himself. 

He planned an assault on the Second Amendment, aiming to base his strategy on that of Marshall Thurgood, who successfully led the campaign that ended school segregation. Using gun control? The logic is hard to follow.  He didn’t even care about guns, he didn’t own one. It was purely an academic issue for him. And he had the money to personally finance his campaign.

He began looking for potential plaintiffs and found 6 people whose lives were either constantly under threat or who had been saved by pulling out a gun. One of them, a licensed police officer, Dick Heller, wanted to carry at home but his application for a handgun permit had been denied. He had approached the NRA about a lawsuit but they refused. 

Well, Levy took him on. In 2003 Levy’s 6 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia for the right to own and use guns for personal safety. The Judge dismissed the suit but the Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal for Heller. The defendant (District of Columbia) requested a refused but it was refused so they took it to the Supreme Court.  

Sadly, the Supreme Court, which took 38 days to reach its momentous decision, acknowledged  it had not conducted an in depth historical analysis of the full scope of the Second Amendment to support its judgement. It’s impossible not to wonder why, and who was in whose pocket. The year was 2008. By then the NRA had its talons firmly embedded into America’s political system. 

Justice John Paul Stevens argued for sanity in the Supreme Court, saying the court's interpretation was unconvincing, that it overturned longstanding precedent and that it had created an upheaval of the law. And wasn’t that the truth. I wonder whether, throughout all this, Levy ever wondered about what he was doing as he came more into contact with the reality of the world of guns. 

Whether it really was just his money that financed his campaign. Maybe the NRA’s decision to not back Heller was part of a strategy. Maybe they knew a case brought by them would fail, but one brought by a noted academic in human rights would have a better chance. Who knows how Levy and Heller came together, and what was going on behind the scenes.

At the start of Levy’s law career it seems he did care about personal freedom, and perhaps, given his background and how hard he had worked to create a different life for himself, it was a personal mission. But it’s a fact that guns were never important to him and when he chose them to create a campaign he made a political choice and crossed the line of integrity. Now America suffers the consequences.

Here’s the sad thing about Levy and the difference between him and Marshall Thurgood. Thurgood’s mission was profound and made the world a better place. Levy contributed to making the world a worse place, and his motivation is questionable at best. In the wake of his grand campaign he has left a sea of troubles.

Now America has a stark choice, getting starker by the day. Sit back and complain or get informed about the NRA and the details of its political clout. And vote its puppets out of office.Thank God for Barack Obama, able and willing to lead the way.