Friday, April 05, 2013
I've Seen the Bullet and the Damage Done
First, let's try this thought experiment. Imagine that the founders were truly, and not without reason, fearful of a coup d'état by a professional army or by a tyrannical government with army support. To counter that threat to liberty, the founders, we imagine, created a supposedly equally important citizen Militia, which was all the men between 17 and 45, and ensured, through the Second Amendment, that the members of that Militia would never be without modern firearms of their choice. It happens to be true (Federalist #26, #29 and #46) but bear with me. So the supporters of the Second Amendment are, in our thought experiment, merely carrying on the clear intentions of the founders and therefore are patriots and the defenders of liberty. In this light, members of the government, who pass worthless gun banning laws which only effect the law abiding and help create greater freedom or safety not at all, they would be the exactly the people the founders feared, that is, they would be the ones attempting to give a monopoly of force to the government, which action historically always leads to less freedom and ultimately to tyranny. OK, now to the editorial.
President Obama is being shouted down by the gun lobby. He and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. have spent weeks crisscrossing the country, making a forceful case for a package of laws that would reduce gun violence.
They weren't shouted down; they were unpersuasive. This is classic projection. The right generaly politely listens; the left tends to shout people down. The laws the president and vice president hawked would not have reduced gun violence at all but would merely have partially disarmed the law abiding and sane.
At every stop, including one on Wednesday in Denver, he has demanded that Congress require universal background checks, ban assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, and prohibit gun trafficking. He has invoked the bloodshed in Newtown, Conn., and the daily toll that adds up to 30,000 gun deaths a year.
Is gun trafficking something other than the legal sale of guns on the open market? If it's defined as illegal sales, then it is already prohibited. Why include the 18,000 gun suicides per year with the murder and accident statistics? Does any of the proposed laws prevent in any way a suicide? This unjustified mixing tend to inflate the number and make it seem worse than it is? Are they fooling anyone?
But the president has been unable to break through the blockade set up by one of the most powerful and relentless lobbies in Washington. The assault weapons battle has already been lost, and it is increasingly doubtful that there will be enough votes in the Senate to support the expansion of background checks, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s agenda.
Blockade? Relentless? What the NYT editors means is that the president has been unable to convince most of the Democratic Senators up for re-election next year to commit political seppuku by supporting gun control legislation. He's losing! We're losing! Waahh! I've seen six-year-olds take a loss with more grace.
(Sixty votes will be required to break the filibuster promised by the most extreme Republican senators, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah.) Even the gun trafficking provision, which seemed the easiest to pass, is being torn apart by the National Rifle Association, which put forward a substitute version that would eviscerate the prohibition on straw purchases of guns.
Extremist Cruz and Lee are actually the political leaders in our surging attempt to preserve our Second Amendment rights and prevent a Fabian loss of our freedom. They are the good guys here, following in the footsteps of the founders. The anti-trafficking law the Democrats proposed was terrible--unworkable, impenetrable, overbroad and unduly burdensome on the law abiding gun owners. It made felons of the most casual non-criminal human actors around guns. See overview criticism here.
The gun lobby is a combination of forces that includes manufacturers, hunters and hobbyists, political opportunists, and a fanatically active faction that believes guns are needed to fight off the conquest of freedom by the government. That faction is represented by the group Gun Owners of America, which has spent the months since Newtown doing tremendous damage, insisting that expanded background checks will lead to a gun registry that will assist a secret plan by the president to seize every firearm.
First let's remember every citizen has a First Amendment right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. (I would prefer the airing of grievances). So generally people who use their right to lobby for or against pending legislation are OK, but not these guys. They are opportunist or fanatically active. Those aren't so good. Rather than doing unspecified "damage" the various organizations supporting the Second Amendment have prevented the thin end of the wedge and kept true to the desires of the founding fathers. They've done good. And because background checks without record keeping (which the federal firearm license holders must do) are a huge waste of time, it is a reasonable fear that to perfect the purpose of the private background checks a gun registry, government kept records of private sales between citizens, will necessarily follow.
This is the group that said the blood of Newtown was on the hands of lawmakers who create gun-free zones around schools. Its executive director, Larry Pratt, considers the United States government to be largely unconstitutional, and says that gun rights come directly from God. “When we’re talking about firearms,” he said in 2010, “we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life... I guess Larry Pratt is as radical and fanatical as Thomas Jefferson. And if you create a gun free zone but don't provide security and an evil psychopath comes in and shoots about two dozen people you have kept vulnerable, then their blood is on your hands. Gun free zones without replacement security are both pathetic and naive all the while being dangerous to the disarmed within.
And yet this twisted radicalism is playing an outsized role in the current debate. As Jennifer Steinhauer reported in The Times on Thursday, the gun group’s demands helped pressure Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to back out of negotiations on the background-check bill, depriving it of crucial Republican support. The group has helped push the N.R.A. and several members of Congress further to the right, and Republicans say fear of its retribution is preventing a deal.
Yeah, the twisted radicalism of each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Pushing Congress to the right, that is, to supporting the Constitution and defending against tyranny, is a good thing. Which Republicans say fear of retribution is preventing a deal? Name one. It is the Democrats in the Senate who fear an election payback for supporting gun or box magazine bans, not the Republicans. OK, big finish:
Polls show that more than 80 percent of Americans support universal background checks, but where are those Americans in this debate? The best-organized voices that officials have heard are those thwarting common sense on guns, forcing lawmakers to curl up and cower.
Common sense? To ban new magazines but not ban the many millions that already exist is common sense? Hardly. To ban some semi-auto rifles that look mean (or cool) but not the more traditional looking versions which are exactly the same inside is common sense? Not where I live. Do most people want evil and insane people to be unable to buy guns from a federal firearm license holders? Of course. Do most people want to have to ask the government for permission to sell a gun to a trusted neighbor? I think not. Does the editorial board of the NYT want to have to get a license and permission of the government in order to publish and hawk the paper? Of course not, that would violate the First Amendment. Somehow, the Second Amendment must be different.
I left out the last sentence a shameless argumentum ad miseracordiam. I'm getting a little tired of those as I've always preferred logic to bathos.
Labels: New York Times; Whining