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Monthly Archives: November 2019

IDs, Travel, Guns, and Other Vaguely Constitutional Issues

I am going to start with some opinions about the U.S. Constitution (the document, not the ship) that are based on mostly high school history from the mid-1980s and an additional 40+ years of following news and opinion on various sides.

First, I believe that the 14th, 19th, and 26th amendments together create an implication that all U.S. Citizens over the age of 18 have an inherent right to vote in at least U.S. Federal elections – that is elections for Presidential Electors, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and, because of the 17th amendment, members of the U.S. Senate.

Second, I believe that the 1st amendment’s clause on free assembly creates an implication that all persons in the United States have a right to freely travel. And, that right has been naturally extended as travel technologies have improved.

Third, I am no longer convinced that the 2nd amendment creates an unfettered right for any U.S. Citizen to possess any kind of firearm. However, I still believe that it does set a high bar on the restrictions that can be placed on firearm ownership and possession – a bar that is at least as high as the bar that can be placed on voting and travel.

This leads me to the meat of what I want to write about, and that is a form of hypocrisy from (big surprise) the right wing/conservative elements of the U.S. political spectrum. Many or most of these politicians, political commentators, etc. strongly advocate for few if any restrictions for owning guns. They will even oppose ideas such as requiring insurance or training-based licensing for gun ownership such as what is required for operating a motor vehicle (freedom of travel). And, when it was suggested that people on the “No Fly” list be prevented from buying guns, suddenly they were all up in arms about due process, but had said nothing about due process when these same people were denied freedom of travel (or at least air travel) without any due process.

And that now leads me to RealID and voter ID and gun control. At the moment, we are dealing with a strong push to get every state’s drivers license and and alternate ID compliant with the federal RealID standards. These standards are at best inconvenient for people to meet – often requiring them find their birth certificate, marriage certificate, multiple proofs of residency, social security card or other document to prove that, as well as some pre-existing photo ID.

Then, because there is a looming deadline, the facilities are becoming backed up. I’ve seen first hand or newspaper reports that both California and Illinois are already seeing longer than usual delays because of this, and New Mexico which has had a compliant ID longer, may also soon be hit with some.

And, it is well shown that similar issues exist in places where voting requires a similar ID. (I won’t digress into the arguments, well shown elsewhere, that requiring ID for voting implicitly if not explicitly targets minority, poor, young, and to a lesser extent, urban, voters – making it advantageous to conservatives and doing little if anything to combat voting fraud).

I will argue that if anyone were to propose that someone must posses and show a RealID compliant ID to purchase a firearm, that the same voices that complained about the No Fly list would be just as vocal about how that is unfairly targeting potential gun owners.

But, what I see from this is that these voices see the rights to firearm ownership that are, or possibly are, implied from the 2nd amendment are much more important to them than the rights travel and vote that are implied from the 1st, 14th, 19th, and 26th amendments.

In my opinion none of the rights protected from government restriction by the constitution, except perhaps the freedoms of speech and the press, are more important than any other right.