December 28, 2012
"Assault weapon" ban advocates miss the point of the Second Amendment
The anti-gun zealots continue their assault on the Bill of Rights with renewed vigor; California's execrable Sen. Diane Feinstein leading the charge, releasing the outlines of her new weapons ban, expanded to cover most pistols and requiring all gun owners to be fingerprinted and entered into a massive government database.
Perhaps nothing sets a Second Amendment Civil Libertarian's teeth on edge like the pronouncements of various politicians that, "no one's talking about interfering with your right to own hunting rifles or other weapons with legitimate sporting purposes," followed up with the non-sensical (and profoundly un-American question, "Why does anyone need a large-capacity magazine? Why does anyone need an assault weapon? Why does anyone need a military-grade rifle?"
National Review's Kevin Williamson penned an article (posted today) that reminds us what the Second Amendment is really about:
The Second Amendment is not about Bambi and burglars — whatever a well-regulated militia is, it is not a hunting party or a sport-clays club. It is remarkable to me that any educated person ... believes that the second item on the Bill of Rights is a constitutional guarantee of enjoying a recreational activity.
There is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment for military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear. The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court justice Joseph Story — who was, it bears noting, appointed to the Court by the guy who wrote the Constitution:
The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers.
It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.
The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.
“Usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers” — not Bambi, not burglars. While your granddad’s .30-06 is a good deal more powerful than the .223 rifles that give blue-state types the howling fantods, that is not what we have a constitutional provision to protect.
The right to keep and bear arms is a civil right. If you doubt that, consider the history of arms control in England, where members of the Catholic minority (and non-Protestants generally) were prohibited from bearing arms as part of the campaign of general political oppression against them. The Act of Disenfranchisement was still in effect when our Constitution was being written, a fact that surely was on the mind of such Founding Fathers as Daniel Carroll, to say nothing of his brother, Archbishop John Carroll.
The Second Amendment speaks to the nature of the relationship between citizen and state. [Anti-gun zealots] may think that such a notion is an antiquated relic of the 18th century, but then [they] should be arguing for wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment rather than presenting — what’s the word? — disingenuous arguments about what it means and the purpose behind it.
Power corrupts. Madison knew that, and the other Founders did, too, which is why we have a Second Amendment.
None of what Williamson wrote should come as a surprise to any American well-versed in our own history and the contemporaneous writings of the Republic's founders, but it can't hurt to repeat Justice Story's point one more time: "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."
And, though it may be unpopular with supporters of the all-powerful, You'll-Do-As-We-Decree-Because-We-Know-Better-Than-You Nanny State, Williamson's answer to the anti-gun zealot's question gets to the very core of the Second Amendment's meaning and purpose: “Why would anybody need a gun like that? [B]ecause we are not serfs. We are a free people living under a republic of our own construction. We may consent to be governed, but we will not be ruled."
Now that's speaking truth to power.
Posted by Mike Lief at December 28, 2012 12:21 PM
Who REALLY NEEDS an Escalade? There oughta be a law . . .
Posted by: The Little Coach at December 29, 2012 08:56 AM