The Concise Oxford English Dictionary I keep by my desk defines “conniption” as “a fit of rage or hysterics.” To illustrate more clearly what a “conniption” means in modern parlance, a picture of Gavin Newsom, the Democrat Governor of California, should accompany the definition. It is he and his anti-Second Amendment colleagues in other deep blue states who are having recurring conniptions over the June 2022 Supreme Court decision commonly known as Bruen.
That decision, which arose factually in New York but applies to the entire country, declared that the Second Amendment means what it says, and that it is to be interpreted according to the historical context in which it was written and ratified in the late 18th Century.
What exactly is it that sends these public officials, who regularly profess devotion to other civil liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, up the wall?
At its core, it’s all about control.
Under the century-old New York “Sullivan Act” law that the six-member Bruen majority struck down last June, local officials had enjoyed virtually absolute control to decide which citizens were deemed worthy to be permitted to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. That power was deemed “arbitrary” by the High Court’s majority and therefore fatally defective as a limitation on an individual’s fundamental right to “keep and bear arms” expressly guaranteed by the Second Amendment against being thus “infringed.”
For decades California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and a handful of other firearms-averse states had permitted officials to exercise similar control over citizens within their jurisdiction.
Bruen swept away such noxious power and established – finally – what should have been obvious to public officials all along; namely, that playing word games, such as forcing a citizen to show “proper cause” and a “special need” before being allowed to exercise a fundamental right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, is not what our Founders intended and is not consistent with any reasoned and historically premised interpretation of the Second Amendment.
In clear defiance of the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, New York’s legislature quickly passed, and Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that did precisely what the Supreme Court just days before had ruled unconstitutional. This left virtually every New Yorker desiring to be able to carry a firearm for self-defense still unable to do so.
Even more irksome to the likes of Newsom and other anti-gun Democrat governors and legislators, is the fact that the language and reasoning in Bruen provide valid arguments with which to successfully challenge other restrictive gun control laws, such as bans on high-capacity magazines and so-called “assault rifles.” Myriad challenges to these gun control laws are pending in courts in California and across the country.
Defending such restrictive laws against these constitutional challenges perfectly reflects Newsom’s well-known disdain for judicial decisions not comporting with his liberal philosophy.
Thankfully, most federal judges have a sounder view of judicial precedent and understand that when the United States Supreme Court speaks – especially when, as in Bruen, it does so clearly and pointedly – political and personal views must take a backseat to the Court’s decisions. Interestingly, even some Democrats in the California legislature appear to understand this.
Last Fall, for example, Newsom and his cohorts in the state legislature attempted to pass legislation similar to New York’s defiant response to Bruen, that would continue to make it virtually impossible for Californians to obtain carry permits. In what must have been a shock to Newsom, a handful of “moderate” Democrat members joined with the GOP minority and defeated the legislation – forcing the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times to blast such turncoats and join the ongoing, anti-Bruen conniption sweeping across blue states.
There also are blue-city sheriffs, such as San Francisco’s Paul Miyamoto, who may not like the Bruen decision but understand their oaths of office require them to follow it, and now are approving carry permits that previously were routinely denied.
Since Bruen, law-abiding citizens, including those in Democrat-controlled states like Maryland, are eagerly lining up by the tens of thousands to obtain formerly unattainable carry permits. These Americans exhibit no conniption, simply a yearning to freely exercise a God-given and constitutionally guaranteed right to self-defense.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.