11/12/2013

Question: if a two cent tax on newspapers and requiring an ultrasound before abortions are deemed unconstitutional infringements on rights, what about everything required for guns?

In 1936, the Supreme Court struck down a two percent tax on newspapers as "unconstitutional under the due process of law clause because it abridges the freedom of the press" (Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc.).
For abortions, requiring an ultrasound before an abortion is deemed to impose to great of a burden on those seeking an abortion.  The Supreme Court just turned down an appeal from the state of Oklahoma on this issue.
The rejected Ultrasound Act stipulated that at least one hour before an abortion physicians must 1). perform an ultrasound 2). explain what it depicts 3). show the pregnant woman 4). provide a medical description “which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity...the presence of external members and internal organs….”
Interestingly, ultrasounds are generally promoted as being simple for women.  During the "first trimester fetal ultrasound typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes" and during the "second trimester ultrasound, completed between 18 and 22 weeks, is usually the longest procedure, lasting 30 to 45 minutes."  The typical cost of an ultrasound is "around $200."

So, are a woman's reproductive rights greater than a woman's right to her own life?


Yet, in Washington, DC it takes 5 hours of training to get a license and register a gun.  One must also take a 20-question exam on DC's firearms laws and regulations.  You must also give your fingerprints and submit a pre-owned firearm for ballistics testing at the office.  Additional cost include having to take the forms in in person.  The total dollar cost is over $500.


Alito in Chicago v. McDonald: "In sum, it is clear that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty."  Scalia in Heller also referred to these rights as "fundamental."


Bottom line: How can a 20 minute test that costs $200 be deemed of as imposing an undue burden on a right, but a 5 hour training requirement and many hours of filing out forms and delivering them plus over $500 in fees not be considered such a burden?  How can a 2 percent tax on newspaper be deemed abridging the First amendment but what could easily be over a 100 percent tax on a gun be viewed as OK?


The court in Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc. struck down the newspaper tax because it was reducing circulation of what it deemed to be a "fundamental right" ("it is seen to be a deliberate and calculated device in the guise of a tax to limit the circulation of information to which the public is entitled in virtue of the constitutional guaranties").  The tax on gun and ammunition purchases would seem to have the exact same effect on guns.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Raymond Andrews said...

In every version of the Ultrasound Act that I've seen, it calls for a transvaginal ultrasound which means the probe would be inserted into the vagina to perform the procedure. This is infinitely more intrusive than a regular ultrasound. Now, I am against abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest, or life of the mother but a coerced medical procedure is still a coerced medical procedure.
You are arguing from the wrong point of view. You can't compare $200 dollars for a procedure a woman DOESN'T want to a $500 cost leading to something the buyer DOES want. With that being said, I believe the $500 is an undue burden for a right guaranteed by the Constitution. If I were going to compare the $500 to something it would be the cost of driving a car. (Just the driving not the expense of ownership.) In Louisiana, you can get your driver's license for about $25 after taking a 20 minute written test and a short driving test. Al of that can be done with no training requirement. So, with no training you are giving a person the right to operate a machine that kills just over 10,000 more people a year than guns. And there is no right to transportation guaranteed in the Constitution.

11/13/2013 3:34 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

"You can't compare $200 dollars for a procedure a woman DOESN'T want to a $500 cost leading to something the buyer DOES want." Sorry, Raymond, but this is simply incorrect. People don't want to go through the $500 costs of registering and licensing a handgun any more than they want to go through the ultrasound. They do want to get a handgun. But those who want an abortion want to get the abortion. No difference.

As to the benefits of training for guns, there are also costs of formal training. Raising the cost of having gun ownership means that poor people, the ones most likely to face violent crime, will be the ones who are disarmed.

11/13/2013 10:43 PM  
Blogger Raymond Andrews said...

I didn't say people wanted to spend the $500. I said they want the end result. I do not agree with, support, or endorse charging people such an exorbitant amount to exercise a Constitutional right. I am also anti-abortion but I don't think forcing women to undergo and pay for an invasive procedure before it can be accomplished is the right way to go. Those are the kinds of legislation that makes people REALLY dislike those of us who are Conservative. I believe the Ultrasound Act was used as your analogy because it is also a hot button issue and will elicit a strong emotional reaction.
There are many people that I would not want to own guns until they have some kind of training or experience with them I met several of those people when I was training Army nurses (males and females) how to operate and accurately fire the M9 pistol. With that being said, I would never want to see legislation passed to force it because that is a slippery slope.

11/14/2013 11:17 AM  
Blogger OliverTabuger said...

Another 1A tax case is Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co., v. Minnesota Comm’r of Revenue. which held a tax singling out the press to be unconstitutional.

Also, look at Sonzinsky v. United States, decided in 1937, which upheld the NFA tax.

11/14/2013 9:32 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Again, Raymond the two cases are exactly the same.

You don't want to pay $200 or $500. People don't want to spend their time on these regulations in either case.

In both cases there is a perceived benefit: getting the abortion or buying the gun.

If people don't want to own a gun until they get formal training or any training, that is perfectly fine. I assume that there might be a few women who have ultrasounds before they make their decision to have an abortion. What is clear is that the regulations that mandate training significantly reduce the number of people buying guns and my guess is that they have a lot bigger effect on gun ownership than the regulations on abortions.

11/14/2013 10:11 PM  

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