Connecticut resident David Rafferty penned a polemic for greenwichtime.com headlined ‘Safety from guns is not tyranny’. Straight away we know we’re not in Kansas anymore. The title tells us that Mr. Rafferty doesn’t consider gun control a form of tyranny. Even a cursory understanding of the American Revolution would yield the opposite conclusion. A closer examination — such as David B. Kopel’s The American Revolution against British Gun Control — spells it out in great detail. And that’s before Mr. Rafferty gets to the meat of the matter . . .
Excuse me sir, may I see your license and registration? Excuse me miss, but could I please see your dog’s registration? Thank you for coming to Tod’s Point, may I see your beach card, please? Does any of this sound familiar? They’re some of the little things we do in our civilized society that may offend supporters of a do-whatever-you-please Libertarian utopia, but that most of us recognize as normal, necessary and not an attack on freedom. Hardly intrusive, hardly limiting.
It’s scarcely credible that Mr. Rafferty is unfamiliar with the Fourth Amendment to the United Stets Constitution, which affirms
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This means that the government cannot stop a citizen and ask for identification without probable cause that a crime has been committed (DUI roadblocks be damned). As you can guess, Mr Rafferty is lobbying for a proposed change in Connecticut law that would allow police to ask open carriers to show cops their carry license (itself an unconstitutional infringement on the Second Amendment) without probable cause. Like this:
It’s nice to know that Greenwich drivers can prove that they passed the basic competency test necessary to pilot a two-ton SUV down the Avenue. Or that your beach pass can help distinguish between rightful taxpaying residents and mooching outsiders stealing our spot in the sand. So why do some Connecticut gun owners who feel the need to tote their lethal firearms around in public, oppose the idea that the police should have the reasonable ability to ask them to prove that they are indeed carrying legally registered weapons? Why is providing a gun license when asked an imposition?
As a friend of mine with certain odd [but legal] sexual proclivities explained, if you don’t understand it it’s not for you. But the right to keep and bear arms is for those of us who do understand it. It is ours to exercise without government infringement, providing we are exercising it lawfully.
In fact, Connecticut police already have a “reasonable ability” to ask an open carrier to provide their license. As long as they have reasonable cause to believe a crime is being committed, they can stop and frisk anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a firearm on display. That’s not good enough for Mr. Rafferty, the Connecticut police and the state’s anti-gun rights politicians.
This does not, as the NRA puts it, “reduce their constitutional right to possess firearms” any more than checking your dog’s license limits your right to own as many poodles and schnauzers as you like. Safety from guns is not tyranny, and please stop trying to “protect my freedoms.” I want the help of the NRA and CCDL the way I want the mafia helping “protect” my business from having an accident.
Urrr, that Rafferty, he hates America. The Second Amendment means freedom and my cold dead hands and don’t tread on me and Grrrr! Well, contrary to decades of misdirection, misinformation and yes, lying, no one is coming for your guns. Instead, gun owners got their open carry laws even though statistically you’re far more likely to shoot your wife or kids or yourself than any bad guy with a gun. So enjoy. You got your peace of mind, now give us ours.
Here’s where we gain insight into Mr. Rafferty’s mindset. First, he equates the NRA and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League with the mafia. Defending gun rights is a protection racket, apparently. Only someone who opposes democracy could make that absurd parallel. Second, he puts his “peace of mind” above the rule of law. Only someone who opposes the rule of law could make that absurd assertion.
More than that, Mr. Rafferty’s suggesting that open carriers are more likely to shoot their “wife or kids” than exercise their gun rights responsibly. It’s an ad hominem attack that completely undermines his “reasoned” argument. Like so many gun control advocates, Mr. Rafferty hides his hatred of gun owners behind a cloak of civility. To the point of putting gun owners in mortal peril.
Stop waving the Second Amendment in my face like it’s inviolable. Even the First Amendment, which is far more important in protecting your liberty and freedom, is open to varying degrees of subjectivity. We all learned in elementary school that even though freedom of speech is the bedrock of our society, you can’t shout “Fire” in a movie theater and not pay a penalty. There are reasonable limits, even to our most cherished freedoms. So in this age of If You See Something, Say Something, if three armed guys walk into a Subway where my family and I are eating, my first thought goes to robbery or worse, and I’m calling the cops. And if open carriers are upset that their rights are being infringed when asked to prove they have licenses, well that’s just too bad for them; it’s my city, too.
Shouting fire in a movie theater is not protected speech because the person is falsely shouting, inciting imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot). In the same way, an open carrier may not brandish his weapon when he or she isn’t facing an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm, or otherwise using his or her firearm unlawfully. Open carriers are simply bearing arms, a lawful activity protected by both the Fourth and the Second Amendment.
Mr. Rafferty’s case for stop and frisk of open carriers doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on — which is why it degenerates into five words: “that’s just too bad for them.” Which is why his conclusion conflates a legal term, “brandishing”, with lawful open carry.
. . . if there’s even a moment of hesitation that brandishing a gun means possible trouble, I want the cops to have the law on their side when they arrive to sort it out.
The cops don’t need to have law on their side. The people need to have law on their side. It’s this fundamental faith in the power of the government, in this case the police, as opposed to individual rights, in this case lawful open carriers, that informs all supporters of gun control. For me and America’s Founding Fathers, that is the very definition of tyranny.