Thursday, March 4, 2010

Starbucks, With Guns Ablaze

The Jaded Consumer wouldn't want to deceive anyone, so the following should be reviewed carefully before assessing the meaning of the title of this article: nobody got shot. Nobody even pulled a trigger.

On the other hand, there were some folks wearing firearms in Starbucks to test open-carry laws in jurisdictions in which it was theoretically legal to openly carry firearms.

That this inspired a reaction from gun-control enthusiasts should not surprise anyone, but now that Chicago's highly-restrictive (e.g., a total ban) handgun law will be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court in light of Heller, the impact of the tests will likely be a bit bigger than initially obvious. If local government turns out to have overstepped its bounds in regulating the bearing of arms, many jurisdictions' weapons laws may be void until amended into compliance with whatever the Supreme Court might pronounce as the Constitutional limit of firearms regulation. The reasoning adopted in Heller doesn't seem to limit the application of the Second Amendment as a limit only against the federal government, despite the text of the Amendment, but suggests that the right to keep and bear arms is so basic that local governments may also be barred from interfering with the right (whatever the "right" turns out to encompass).

Because the law at issue isn't really "regulation" but an outright ban, it's also possible that the Supreme Court will not address the limits of the power to regulate with any particularity, but form a majority around the simple thesis that a total ban is too far, whatever the limit may be. In that case, we should expect a lot more "testing" behaviors to illuminate the extent of the law.

Since Starbucks has voiced a position to accept customers who obey local law, one should expect it to be viewed as a friendly place for these "tests". Whether this makes you more interested in Starbucks, or less, is entirely up to you.

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