Guns in Courthouses. Next: Airplanes!

It took me a little while this morning to calm down after reading the news that a lunk-headed judge in Jefferson County, PA has ruled that state law requires that private citizens can take firearms into county courthouses.

The good news is that this was decided as a matter of Pennsylvania law, rather than as a matter of federal law. Imagine: Is there a Second Amendment right to carry in court? We can fix this problem in Harrisburg by changing the language of a state law that makes it a crime to carry a firearm in a "court facility." Simply change the language of the law to make it clear that "court facility" includes everything inside the front door of the courthouse. Problem solved. Guns go home.

Easier said than done, of course. The NRA will be out in force, just as it was recently in Arizona in support of a bill to make it legal to take guns into bars. (Ed Helms at Comedy Central recently did a brilliant parody of this.) The bill failed to pass, but only narrowly.

One of the many ironies here is that the people fighting for the "right" to defend themselves with revolvers on the witness stand like to cite "democracy" and "our rights" as bedrock principles that motivate them. One of the plaintiffs in the Jefferson County case gave this quote: "Listen, I'm a Korean War veteran. This is what the hell I was over there for," Switzer, 72, said yesterday. "Whenever you have a bunch of bureaucrats trying to take away your freedom, that's when you take action."

The whole point of democracy, though, is that we *don't* use guns to settle disputes. That's what we have courts, and lawyers, and the democratic system of government to ensure. When people disagree, we resolve disputes at the ballot box, and with judges and juries. Bringing guns into places where we resolve disputes is exactly what we fought wars to ensure would *not* happen. I'm not great fan of the war in Iraq, but if you take the President at his word, the reason that we're over there is to ensure that justice flows from votes, not from a gun barrel. People win disputes, people lose disputes. Reason and justice, not raw, naked power. No one dies.

UPDATE: For inquiring minds, the citation for the Pennsylvania statute in question is 18 Pa. C.S.A. Sec. 913. (C.S.A. stands for Consolidated Statutes Annotated)


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