Gun rights advocates should not rely on the Second Amendment.

Today, a local reporter, in discussing proposed gun control laws, said that some people were concerned that such laws would “step on their Second Amendment rights.”  It occurred to me that she should have said the were concerned that gun control laws would impair their ability to protect themselves and their families from assaults and other crimes.  Instead, she focused on the dry, technical, constitutional argument, and the gun rights advocates have no one to blame but themselves.  They constantly focus on the Constitutional provision, to the detriment of their argument on the merits of gun control.

Since at least 1954, 59 years ago, it has been clear that when the people or the government decided they want something, the Constitution is no barrier.  Specifically, when the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. Board of Education, they also handed down a decision in a companion case for the District of Colombia.  In that case, Chief Justice Warren frankly acknowledged that, “The legal problem in the District of Columbia is somewhat different, however. The Fifth Amendment, which is applicable in the District of Columbia, does not contain an equal protection clause as does the Fourteenth Amendment which applies only to the states.”  Bolling v. Sharpe (1954) 347 U.S. 497, 498-99 supplemented sub nom. Brown v. Board of Educ. of Topeka, Kan. (1955) 349 U.S. 294.  But, where there is a will there is a way, and the Court discovered that segregated schools not only violated equal protection, but due process, a completely novel and unjustifiable use of the concept of due process.  The justices simply could not bear to think that the result could be different for the feds than for the state so they simply made up the law to fit the desired outcome.

The legislatures, administrations, and courts have been making the rules to fit the desired outcomes ever since.  There is no doubt they will do so to get around the Second Amendment.  Thus, relying on that amendment to protect the right to bear arms is a losing proposition.  Instead, gun rights advocates have to engage in the much harder work of convincing the public that gun control is a bad idea — that the world is a safer place when private citizens have the option of being armed.

Bookworm has pointed out that advocates should reframe the discussion from one about gun violence and gun control to one about violence and crime generally (and the role that guns play in both the violence and crime, and in the prevention of violence and crime).   To that I would add that advocates should reframe the discussion from one about the Second Amendment to one about the pluses and minuses of gun control.  Assuming the Constitution is no impediment (it’s not) why is gun control such a bad idea?

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  • rick9911

    You’re saying what I’ve thought for years. We no longer have the rule of law. Usually the alternative would be the rule of man but now it is the rule of popular sentiment. Of course. this will change into the rule of man. As Joe Biden said “gird your loins”.

  • Michael Adams

    Don Quixote, as much as I hate to think that basic human rights depend upon the effectiveness of our political propaganda, you are correct.  We need to be much more active in  explaining the value of an armed citizenry to the beneficiaries thereof. People, especially in the urban Northeast, are just petrified about guns. While most of the country just takes guns as normal, the Frightened Few are the ones who may yet win the day, defeating liberty for all of us.

  • Marica

    Michael– just as an aside, I looked at the published maps of gun owners in one small segment of the “urban Northeast” and those dots didn’t look all that petrified to me. What was petrifying was those dots owners’ silence– the fact that it probably came as a complete surprise to learn not only you, but your next door neighbor, owned a gun.
    You’re right– in certain parts of the country everybody owns not just A gun but many guns. Heck, you don’t shoot armadillos with a .270. And you don’t shoot intruders (although there are few) with a .22. Sometimes a screwdriver will do, sometimes you’ve got to get out the power drill. We all know that in the South. Different problems require different versions of the tool. 
    But again, we know that! 
    Likewise, when I talk to non-gun owners, I’m be confronted with different problems. For some, appeals to 2A based on the Amendment’s historical/philosophical underpinnings (what a rich history!) will be most effective. For others, a daughter’s ability to defend herself will matter most. Others enjoy the sport of shooting 20 rounds… boomx20. These are all legitimate reasons to desire to own guns and shoot! And oppose all control.
    My point is– there is no one hook that’s going to haul in every anti-gun person in the country. 
    Haha. Think Globally. Act locally. Take a Liberal Shooting this weekend! One. Person. At. A. Time. Individualize it. Make it fun. 
    This Saturday is Gun Appreciation Day. I know the weather is crappy, but take your grill to the end of your drive and fire it up and holster your gun. Invite your neighbors. Eat well! 

  • JKB

    Agreed, the argument should start with the natural right of self defense.  It exists independent of the Constitution or any other document, for that matter.  We do not condemn animals for defending themselves or their “families”, why do we condemn humans and try to deny them the capability for self defense?  The 2nd amendment simply enumerated the right to an effective self defense using arms against the government’s tendency toward disarmament of the populace even as it claims no obligation to protect any particular citizen.  Well, from violence, they work real hard to protect citizens from the menace of 32 oz soft drinks, deathbed pain killer addiction, etc.  

  • Danny Lemieux

    The line that I like to use is:
    “So, big-city mayors who oppose gun ownership are allowed to have armed protection 24/7, paid for by you, the taxpayer.
    What about the young waitress, walking home through a bad neighborhood late a night after shutting down the diner where she works? Does she get to protect herself, too?
    Or, do you support a society where only self-declared aristocrats get the right to self defense?”

  • Don Quixote

    Michael, I love the “Frightened Few” but the problem is that they are now a majority. 

    Danny, good line.  The problem with that whole argument, though, is that the mayor will tell you that if all the guns were outlawed the mayor wouldn’t need the protection.  The mayor will argue that all guns should be banned so both the mayor and the young waitress can walk home in peace.  The mayor will even argue that what makes the “bad” neighborhood “bad” are the very guns that the major is fighting against.  That the solution is to get rid of bad neighborhoods, not to arm young waitresses who wander through them.  That argument is easy to demolish, of course, but in the meantime it gives the mayor an excuse to keep the armed guard. 

  • lee

    A friend of mine has a very good reason for being an advocate being able to arm one’s self in the name of self-defense: And he is a BIG advocate!
    His story starts at about 8:30 of the Ed Bell Sample Presentation 1 of 3, and continues on 2 of 3. But I suggest watching all three, from start to finish–he’s very good.
    (BTW, he is available for speaking engagements!)

  • lee

    England has essentially gotten rid of most guns. Are their politicians and royalty still guarded with weapons? Oh, wait… didn’t some English doctors suggest banning long kitchen knives because of the prevalance of their use in violent attacks? Hmmm…

  • lee

    The thing about “gun laws” (and many other laws, oh, such as OBAMACARE) is someone gets very excited about a problem, a real problem, and declares that we MUST SOLVE THIS PROBLEM: violent attacks on school children, uninsured people with catastrophic illnesses… And they come up with a tiny peice of gauze–not even adhesive tape, not even a band-aid. Their “solution” doesn’t SOLVE the PROBLEM–and usually creates MORE (unintended consequences.)
    They never even EXAMINE the problem! They do not look into: What is the cause. proximate and root, of the problem? What contributes to the problem? What at least alleviates the problem, if it is not actually “solvable”? Is it ONE problem, or several that contribute to the issue?
    One of the most dangerous sentences coming out a legislator’s mouth is usually, “There ought to be a LAW.”

  • Charles Martel

    Regarding mayors who may try to buy themselves cover by saying that until we eliminate guns they’ll need armed protection, I’d ask a simple question: “There have been strong gun laws on the books for years. Yet they seem to have had no effect on the thugs in bad neighborhoods who pay those laws no attention. Now that you have an even stronger law on the books, can you promise us that you are immediately going to go into those ‘hoods and forcibly take away the guns of the Russian, Latino, Chinese, and black gangs that roam there? If not, why not?”

  • Ymarsakar

    Lee, why would they necessarily need to examine the problem when often times, they are the source of the problem. If Eric Holder had gotten a little bit farther with the ATF and shipping guns to Mexico, there might be a “shooting”, Americans will outlaw guns for.

  • Ymarsakar

    People’s still think that Oakland has gun violence, and that this means the rest of the lawful citizenry should be regulated because some Democrats in California can’t control their mob herd. It’s not because the Constitution is too technical or dry be understood. People in Oakland are shooting each other up because it’s a Democrat fiefdom. People get a little bit mislead in what the nature of the problem is and where it originates. It’s impossible to advocate guns for Oakland without first dealing with the Democrat party and Leftist slave plantations. It’s not that urban dwellers have these rights which may or may not be enforced, but that nobody has any rights on a fiefdom except the aristocrats. Democrat aristocrats, coincidentally. Crime is only a result of Leftist policies, not the cause in itself of societal destabilization. Many societies have survived criminals and organized crime. What they haven’t survived are power mad cliques and coup de tats from terrorist liberation fronts.
    There is a significant segment of the American population that actually believes in and supports the US Constitution, not because it is pragmatic or how normal corrupt child sex slave trading politicians work in reality, but because when one bypasses the US Constitution, the rest of the American population has no duty nor limitation in using revolutionary force to behead the ruling factions. The Left is fine with using verbal and physical violence to get their way, but most sane people prefer to live in a society where agreement and mutual cooperation results in everyone getting a fair share. However, in the case where the sane start realizing that there is no working compromise, there is no feasible deal to be made that benefits both parties because one guy is always intent on conquering the rest, then the sane go head hunting.
    Thus the belief and support of the US Constitution is, in a very fine subtext, telling people that if the ruling elite are simply going to go ahead and do what the Left wants in destroying the US Constitution, there is a chance, and it increases steadily, that much of the American population will begin to agree to start exterminating the ruling Left, for the rulers have become a totalitarian tyranny in name and in essence.
    To believe as most Democrats and cannon fodder in the nation believes, that if we just go along to work along with the LEft or some Demo politicians because their style of corrupt power mad hunger “works”, is to either destroy the US Constitution and make everyone into slaves… or empower certain factions of the US counter culture resistance movement to go hot. As in hot blood spilled over the streets of every city in the nation. I find it curious that the people most against a US Civil War, are doing their damnest to smoke one up out of thin air by exacerbating the “class divide” or merely ignoring the problem at hand. A nation or empire can have many disagreements about policy, politics, or even religion. What it cannot tolerate is one faction seeking to rule over the rest through ritual sacrifice, worship of death cult gods, conquering everybody else, and making everybody except the ruling elite into 2nd class citizens and slaves. I’m not sure what the Left cooked up in their fevered mansions at Ayers and Obama’s political launch parties, but it was certainly a discontinuation of their Leftist terrorist bomb antics for it wasn’t getting them much traction. However, what they think they will do against the rest of us who are far more competent at killing than Ayers aborted self bombing incident that failed to kill a bunch of US military servicemembers and their family, is still pretty unclear and a mystery.
    Some people wondered why I hated the LEft and probably thought it was not in line with what their neighborhood wise heads thought: people still believed the Left was just another political party, i.e. Democrats, and that everything could be worked out in a deal that “benefited everyone” or everything could be worked out by focusing on real politek. They didn’t believe me when I told them the Left wasn’t working towards politics so much as it was working towards evil. And they still refuse to believe it, they still want to talk about making “deals” with those who wish to conquer and enslave the rest of us in the US. I’m not sure who they think they are convincing these days with that kind of propaganda rhetoric. It may have fooled past generations of America for 1 to 2 centuries, but it’s getting somewhat harder to do so now. All the easily gullible are already brainwashed in college and stuck in Democrat 99% vote fiefdoms. So who do they think they are recruiting with such rhetoric to begin with. The time for recruiting people into the Left is over. I do think they are ready to go active, similar to how the Vietcong went active in Tet. Coming out of the shadows. Putting most or everything on the line, win or lose.
    Fighting the Left does not, and has never consisted of “political solutions”, whether they work or not. The Left is not in competition with the rest of us in “Fixing” American “problems”. The US Constitution has and still is, the only restraint on us, killing everybody else that isn’t “us” in this nation. If people who are sympathetic to Democrat political parties easily admit that the Left doesn’t care about the US Constitution, and attempt to get a political deal that doesn’t fix the original nature of the problem, it’s basically a band aid on that big hole in the target’s forehead. It may look good for awhile, but it doesn’t patch up the exil hole or what got ejected out of it.
    If relying on the US Constitution as the reason why we don’t kill “them”, is a losing proposition, then not only is US Civil War inevitable, but most people know it is, even though they aren’t willing to admit it or do anything productive to stop the Left.

  • Mike Devx

    The left has given up on the US Constitution, and in conjuction, they have given up on this nation as having the Rule Of Law.  As seen with Obama, they believe in the Rule Of Man, not Law.
    Are you suggesting that that makes it appropriate for conservatives to give up on the Constitution and on the idea of the Rule Of Law, too?  That we must restrict ourselves solely to arguments based solely on pragmatism, not principle?
    Just explaining your principles is rarely enough to sway someone who is not already convinced.  You *have* to make it concrete (Parables, stories, etc.)  But I wouldn’t abandon the principles.  The Left spends a *lot* of energy hiding those principles from the American people, ensuring that they DON’T think about them.  Reminders are a very good idea.

  • Mike Devx

    I just ran across a good argument, which means it’s one that I liked  :-)
    It was composed of two parts:
    1. The Second Amendment wasn’t written, and passed, so that Americans could be free to hunt deer.
    2. A quote: “If the world is sufficiently dangerous that the police require semi-automatic rifles with large-capacity magazines, then do not the free citizens who are sovereign over the police and who also live in the same dangerous world deserve to similarly protect themselves from it? In fact, are not the citizens — not the police — always the first ones who are forced to face those dangers?”
    In a different post I wondered about whether we civilians ought to be able to arm ourselves up to the level of our military.  This poster’s argument focuses instead – and correctly – on the police.  He states that citizens ought to be free to arm themselves up to the level at which our police are allowed to be armed.  Not the military; the POLICE.  I agree, 100%, completely.

  • Ymarsakar

    One wonders why the police are not allowed nukes. Of course, military personnel are not allowed to own nukes either.