One of the mixed blessings of being involved with an issue – the human right to self-defense – as long as I have is that every couple of years, I’m treated to the spectacle of a whole new generation of gun-grabbers excitedly making arguments that they just know are going to send the Real Americans scurrying for mama…
…not realizing that they are probably the fourth or fifth generation of gun grabbers I’ve heard use the argument since I started.
“Put a 1000% tax on bullets? You mean like Patrick Moynihan proposed in the seventies the National Coalition to Ban Handguns talked about in the eighties, and Chris Rock in the nineties? No, ma’am, that one’s new to me. Does that also mean that the First Amendment protects speech, but that the government can regulate newsprint, or that it protects freedom to worship, but the government can censor the Bible, the Torah and the Quran? That the Fourth Amendment says we can be secure in our papers and possessions, but that we need to give the cops a master key to our front door because it’s not made of paper?”
That one’s been pretty beaten down again; it’ll be another generation – 3-5 years, in gun-grabber terms (Heather Martens notwithstanding, although she makes the same “arguments” every generation anyway) before we hear that one.
The other one that pops up every time a new wave of naive proto-statists takes the stage is “the founders never envisioned assault rifles”. Which might be true – but while everyone from Leonardo DaVinci to James Puckle had designed firearms that were conceptually similar to “assault weapons” by 1789, the founders hadn’t the faintest inkling of lithography, radio, television, the Internet, chat rooms, Craig’s List, megachurches, the supercomputer, the NSA, electronic surveillance, photo-cops, photography itself, the electric chair, standing municipal police forces, cradle-to-grave social welfare, the Internal Revenue Service and do you still really want to go there, Ms. “Progressive?”
The point, of course, is one that I also sometimes get so far down in the weeds of the minutiae of the subject that I miss it; the Founders, in their much-greater-wisdom-than-today’s-brand-of-bobbleheads, wrote the Constitution not to guarantee things, but to guarantee broad, unalienable rights.
Charles C. W. Cooke had the reminder I needed:
Because, our contemporary rhetorical habits notwithstanding, the right to keep and bear arms is not so much a right in and of itself as an auxiliary mechanism that protects the real unalienable right underneath: that of self-defense. By placing a prohibition on strict gun control into the Constitution, the Founders did not accidentally insert a matter of quotidian rulemaking into a statement of foundational law; rather, they sought to secure a fundamental liberty whose explicit recognition was the price of the state’s construction. To understand this, I’d venture, is to understand immediately why the people of these United States remain so doggedly attached to their weapons. At bottom, the salient question during any gun-control debate is less “Do you think people should be allowed to have rifles?” and more “Do you think you should be permitted to take care of your own security?”
And to a large – and, at its logical conclusion, disgusting – part of our population, the answer is “isn’t the state’s security more important?”
Which is what we’re fighting, here.
Read Cooke’s entire article. It’s a good primer for the battles we’ll face in the coming year.