A useful discussion over at Instapundit (not to imply that Professor Reynolds is in the habit of discussing unuseful stuff) about gun registration and whether Ashcroft is following the law and the Constitution in not going through gun purchase lists looking for terrorists. In a previous post, Glenn mentioned that some of his pro-gun friends consider him “wet” because he believes gun registration to be Constitutional (though under the federal statutes he cites and quotes here, not legal).
This is an issue that continually rankles me (not gun registration, but the inability to distinguish between good ideas, and Constitutional ideas). Almost always, when discussing court decisions, each debater uses, as a center of gravity of the discussion, not what is legal or Constitutional, but what they want the outcome to be. I suspect that this is simply another symptom of the abysmal state of our educational system. Roe v Wade is a classical example of this. Supporters of the decision support it not because there’s a clear basis in the Constitution for it (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg is skeptical on that score), but because they want abortion to be universally legal, and the Constitution be damned. I oppose the decision not because I want abortions made illegal (though I do in fact believe that it should be left up to the states), but because I consider it an abortion of a decision, and one that sets an ugly penumbra of an emanation of a precedent.
I think that gun registration is a very, very bad idea, for reasons that have been discussed in length at many times in many places, but I agree with Glenn–it isn’t per se unconstitutional. It’s unfortunate that we can’t somehow segregate these two discussions from each other, because when they get entangled, as they inevitably do, it makes the issues that much harder to resolve.