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Smart Bombs: Resolution: No more, please

You say you want a resolution,

Well, you know.

We all wanna change the world.

You tell me it’s the Constitution,

Well, you know.

We all wanna change the world.

Sorry, just channeling my inner Beatle after reading up on the latest nonbinding resolutions featured at last Monday night’s Spokane City Council meeting. Resolutions allow members to strip the “non” from “partisan,” just in case you couldn’t figure out their political leanings in the first place.

If you’re scoring at home: Jon Snyder, Amber Waldref and Ben Stuckart lean to the left. Steve Salvatori, Mike Allen, Nancy McLaughlin and Mike Fagan lean to the right. We know this partly because of their backgrounds and partly because of the consistent alignment of votes on a variety of topics.

But the best indicator is the nonbinding resolutions they bring forth. This is where they can release pent-up political views that don’t fit discussions about sewers, potholes, libraries, firefighting and other city business they were elected to oversee.

Last year, it was gay marriage. This time it was guns.

Snyder wanted the state Legislature to know the city supports a bill that tightens loopholes on cases involving gun-toting juveniles. Fagan wanted the city to stand up for the Second Amendment. I’d like for the council to back all the amendments and get it over with.

Whereas, a man’s home is his castle; whereas, a wide variety of lodging options are available; whereas, the Public Facilities District could really use the hotel/motel tax dollars; at no time, whether at war or at peace, should a private citizen be compelled to quarter troops in his domicile.

If the Third Amendment was important to the Founding Fathers, it ought to be important to us.

But, seriously, it’s not worth going over how these resolutions fared, because it doesn’t matter. However, Salvatori and Allen were right to abstain from this evening of grandstanding by refusing to vote. If the rules say otherwise, then there’s a council problem that needs attention.

Well-regulated. The “well-regulated militia” section of the Second Amendment has been invoked repeatedly by gun control proponents, but in the last major gun case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court – District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 – the majority opinion authored by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia spells out an individual right to bear arms. Thus, the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns was struck down.

But the rights conferred under the Constitution are not absolute. The First Amendment grants the right to free speech, but you aren’t covered if you yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater. You also cannot libel or slander people with impunity. Similarly, government can place controls on the Second Amendment. Scalia himself noted this limitation, writing in Heller:

“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. [United States v.] Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those ‘in common use at the time’ finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Congress and state legislatures have the latitude to consider a variety of gun control measures without sullying the Constitution, and it’s a Second Amendment champion who says so.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.