John Shields

Q: What Does Plaxico Burress, Senator John Thune and DOMA Have in Common? A: States Rights

Filed By John Shields | August 02, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: 14th Amendment, 2nd Amendment, DOMA, gun control, john thune, plaxico burress, states rights

Fomer New York Giants wide-receiver Plaxico Burress testified before a grand jury in Manhattan last week to explain his rationale for carrying a concealed handgun into a New York City nightclub. You may remember it as the "Sweatpants Shooting," as Burress suffered a self-inflicted wound when his Glock pistol, tucked into the waistband of his sweatpants, slid down his leg. During Burress' fight with his own weapon, he inadvertently hit the trigger - shooting himself in the leg.

In his defense, Burress' attorney, Benjamin Braufman, explained that the handgun was registered in Florida - although that permit had expired. In any case, it is illegal in New York to carry a gun that is not licensed in New York State.

What does this have to do with LGBTQ issues? Plenty. Think 14th amendment, and whether individual states should be forced to recognize the laws passed in other states. Equal protection clause, folks - plain and simple. And Republican John Thune of South Dakota is apparently now on our side - he just doesn't know it. How's that for irony?

To get the ball rolling, here's New York Times columnist Gail Collins' thoughts on the subject:

Plaxico Burress, the former football star, appeared before a grand jury in Manhattan this week to explain how he came to carry a concealed weapon into a nightclub. Burress, you may remember, had cannily tucked his loaded pistol into the waistband of his sweatpants when he went out for a night on the town. The gun started to slip, as objects in waistbands are wont to do. When he grabbed it, he accidentally shot himself in the thigh.

This is what is known as a bad plan.

So the story gives us an excellent entry into the question of whether states should be required to recognize other states' gun carry permits.

With gun rights in mind, you knew some Republican would put two and 14 together, and come up with nothing except a rationale why Burress should have been able to carry a concealed weapon into a Manhattan nightclub. Cue up Republican Senator John Thune of the great state of South Dakota. From his website:

I strongly support the Second Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." I firmly believe the plain language of the Second Amendment guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms. During the 111th Congress I introduced legislation (S. 845) that would allow individuals who have a concealed carry permit the ability to carry a firearm in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This legislation is needed because some states refuse to honor concealed weapons permits from other states.

Oh really, Senator Thune? Then shouldn't each state also be required to follow the 14th amendment?

From an article on the 141st anniversary of the 14th amendment I wrote last month:

The constitutional issues most relevant to DOMA are the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is concerned with the definition section of DOMA and the Full Faith and Credit Clause, which is primarily concerned with the second section of DOMA.

A right to marriage -- at least "marriage" defined as one man and one woman -- overriding the provisions of state law, was found in Loving v. Virginia.

The Wall Street Journal, on its narrow-minded and myopic op-ed pages, zeroed in only on the 2nd amendment. Have any of those folks actually read the U.S. Constitution?

Most observers believe that the Supreme Court will eventually make state and local governments obey the Second Amendment. If it does, New York's discrimination against nonresidents will probably be ruled unconstitutional.

Which brings me to my point. How is it logical to require a state (in this case New York) under the 2nd Amendment to be forced to allow a person with an expired concealed weapon permit from Florida to carry a weapon into a New York City nightclub (for what purpose, by the way?), and yet not require each state to also follow another Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - the 14th Amendment - requiring every state to recognize marriages performed in other states?

Senator Thune, as well your pals in the U.S. Senate, the National Rifle Association and the Republican National Committee, I'm waiting for an answer.

I'm just not going to sit by the phone. As you have no logical case. And you know it.


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Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 2, 2009 7:59 PM

Add Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama to the list of staunch upholders of states rights. Both say that the question of Same Sex Marriage should be left up to the states.

'States rights' has been part of the ideology of the Democrats since it was used it justify secession and slavery over a hundred and forty years ago. The tradition was carried on by Strom Thurmond and George Wallace and they passed the baton to Clinton and Obama. If nothing else you can say that however reactionary their traditions might be, Democrats are inordinately fond of them.

They are really 'shooting themselves in the foot/thigh' on this one, pun intended.

Who carries a gun with both the safety off and a round chambered, always?

Politicians bring up states rights when they do not have the guts too do what is right, or just so they can ignore certain controversial issues, the fact is the Fed's do not give a damn about states rights unless it benefits them. They flex their muscles when needed to get states to follow national guidelines for a number of issues, and threaten to withhold Federal tax dollars.

Thank god the Fed's stepped in on the civil rights issues in the 60's, something that needs to be done now with LGBTQ issues.