Second Amendment: Obama 'Highly Conservative' in NYT's Eyes?

I have said consistently that I believe the Second Amendment is an individual right. -- Barack Obama, June 26, 2008

In some ways, the Supreme Court term that just ended seems muddled: disturbing, highly conservative rulings on subjects like voting rights and gun control . . . In another sharp break with its traditions, the court struck down parts of the District of Columbia’s gun-control law. After seven decades of holding that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is tied to raising a militia, the court reversed itself and ruled that it confers on individuals the right to keep guns in their homes for personal use. The decision will no doubt add significantly to the number of Americans killed by gun violence. -- NYT editorial, A Supreme Court on the Brink, July 3, 2008 [emphasis added]
How far left is the editorial board of the New York Times?  Far enough that, when it comes to the Second Amendment, Barack Obama would seemingly qualify as "highly conservative" in its eyes.  

The gist of the Grey Lady's editorial of today is to warn voters that the Supreme Court is just a vote away from a conservative majority. The paper instructs voters to keep that grim prospect "firmly in mind when they go to the polls in November."  In the course of its scare-mongering, the editorial liberally sprinkles terms sure to send a shiver down lefty spines: "highly conservative," "a far-right majority," "cold-hearted," "dedicated members of the conservative movement," "the conservative bloc," "far-right bloc," 'one more conservative appointment would . .  push [the Court] even further in a dangerous direction."

As evidence of the dangerous, far-right tendencies of the current Court that would only be exacerbated by one more conservative appointment, the Times cites the recent Heller decision, overturning the Washington, DC gun ban and determining that the Second Amendment did indeed recognize an individual right to keep and bear arms.  As noted in the introductory paragraphs above, the Times condemns the Court's enunciation of an individual right as a "highly conservative . . . break with its traditions."

But wait a second.  As you'll also note above, Barack Obama claims that he, too, "believe[s] the Second Amendment is an individual right."  Naturally, Obama being Obama, he triangulates his position by adding that he also believes in "sensible" gun control laws.  But Obama has also disowned his campaign's earlier statement that he believed the DC law undone in Heller was constitutional.

So it looks like, as far as the Times is concerned, Obama is just one more dangerous conservative.  For that matter, as long as we're identifying the Times' villians of the far right, let's not forgot a couple of Harvard professors that most people had heretofore imagined were generally left-of-center: Alan Dershowitz and Larry Tribe. For they too—far-right ideologues that they apparently are—also recognize an individual right to bear arms, as per this Larry Elder column:
Even some noted liberal professors admit the obvious. Harvard's Laurence Tribe says, "The 14th Amendment, which makes parts of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, reflected a broad agreement that bearing arms was a 'privilege' of each citizen." Fellow Harvard liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz agrees, and scolds fellow liberals for twisting the words of the Second Amendment in a way that could come back to haunt them. "Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming that it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a safety hazard," said Dershowitz, "don't see the danger of the big picture." He added, "They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like."  
All of which raises the question: who would it take to qualify as a true liberal in the Times' eyes?

Bonus Question: The editorial flatly states that the Heller decision "will no doubt add significantly to the number of Americans killed by gun violence," but adduces no evidence in support of its claim.  I've seen a number of studies, such as this one, asserting that concealed carry laws result in a reduction in violent crime.  What facts is the Times relying on?
 
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.