Can you imagine if you had to show ‘Good Cause’ to exercise your civil rights?
“Sorry, you haven’t shown Good Cause why we should allow you to worship as you please. After all, it’s just a matter of which fairy-tale you believe in, and you won’t be physically or financially harmed.”
“No, we don’t need a warrant; you haven’t shown Good Cause why we shouldn’t search your home- if you’re guilty that isn’t ‘Good Cause,’ and if you aren’t you will take no harm.”
“Sorry, you haven’t shown Good Cause why you need a speedy trial. After all you are getting three hots and a cot for free, not to mention housing and medical care.”
“Can you prove you’ll get a fairer result from a jury than from a judge? No? Fine, no Good cause, no jury.”
“Sorry, you haven’t demonstrated that you have Good Cause to not answer our questions, and being guilty of a crime isn’t Good Cause because, well, you’re guilty!”
“Sure, you think that forty lashes in the Public square is cruel and unusual, but you haven’t shown Good Cause why we should not. Tie him to the post, people!”
Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Cleary requiring a ‘Good Cause’ to exercise your Civil Rights isn’t acceptable. Yes, there are limitations to some of these rights in the interest of the public good. You can’t shout ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater. You can’t incite a riot. You cannot practice a religion that includes human sacrifice. The police can enter and search your home if there is a reasonable belief that waiting for a warrant will result in serious and lasting harm or death of a victim. Regulation of Civil Rights in the interest of the public good is a long-established principle, but ONLY in those cases where it can be clearly demonstrated that the exercise of that right will cause significant harm.
A number of Supreme Court findings in recent years have established that citizens are allowed to own firearms for ‘all lawful purposes, including self-defense in the home…’ and that the words ‘bear arms’ clearly means the right to keep them near-to-hand against need at all times, except possibly in designated sensitive areas like schools and hospitals. Even this has not been held up for Constitutional scrutiny and may eventually be found to be improper.
What this means is that if open carry is not allowed the state must provide a mechanism to carry concealed, and if they don’t have such a mechanism they must allow open carry. Of course this right is subject to reasonable restriction; your local jurisdiction can restrict ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ The have to let you carry a gun, but they don’t need to let you carry a machine-gun or a bazooka. What constitutes a ‘dangerous or unusual weapon’ is of course up for debate, and is a whole other discussion.
Denying select civil rights to convicted felons, or persons whose diagnosed mental illnesses have been proven to make themselves a danger to themselves or others would appear to meet the test of ‘in the public good.’ That allowing citizens to bear weapons in public has not, and cannot be proven to be ‘in the public good’ because the statistics simply don’t support that conclusion. States that have enacted Universal Carry laws have not seen any change in the use of firearms in crime so far, and unless or until they do and a direct causal link can be established there is no demonstrable public interest in forbidding the practice.
This means that immediately Washington DC’s ‘Good Cause’ requirement for issuing a concealed carry permit is gone, because open carry is forbidden and the combination of these facts means that citizens have no recourse to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. Other Good Cause restrictions nationwide are likely to fall for the same reason. The effect this will have on society as a whole is unknown at this time, but early evidence is that neither positive nor negative changes will result.
I suppose that time will tell.
Michael Tinker Pearce, 4 August 2017
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