Reader Justin Russell writes:
Let me start by stating that I am a Second Amendment absolutist. I don’t believe that the right to keep and bear arms should be infringed for any reason. In fact, unlike most TTAG readers I even believe that most “criminals” or “felons” should be afforded their rights to defend themselves with a firearm after they have served their time or paid their penalty. If the person is too dangerous to have a gun after serving their sentence then frankly that person deserves to no longer breathe.
But I digress. My point is to establish my bonafides as someone who isn’t part of the “I support the Second Amendment, but…” crowd. If one can afford it, they should be able to own rocket launchers, machine guns and silencers or mount lasers on sharks or whatever they believe provides them protection and safety. Or helps in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Likewise I am also a “liberty absolutist.” By that I mean that unless someone is already breaking a natural law that is causing harm or has a real victim then they should be left in peace. This means I don’t support prohibition against certain plants, nor do I support speed limits. In short – I want government out of most aspects of my life.
Unfortunately we live in a country that has strayed far from its roots. This is evident in many respects across various issues. We no longer value letting our neighbors decide how they want to live. We want our federal overlords to blanket enforce their will across the vast landscape of the whole American Empire.
Some say we are on a dangerous precipice. I disagree. I think we tipped over the precipice more than one hundred years ago. Heck probably almost since the founding itself. The ideals and the documents that made this country what it is were ripped to shreds long ago. As early as 1791 President Washington was already leading an army of over 13,000 men to “suppress” people who resented being taxed into oblivion for the whiskey they were producing. The process has never stopped.
Which brings us to guns and the right to keep and bear arms. To have the federal government mandate that every state shall observe every other state’s concealed carry permits is the definition of tyranny…a clear violation of states rights. It’s no different than ordering every state to define “marriage” however the feds say it should be defined. This is the opposite of freedom and liberty.
But wait, you say, I should be able to carry my gun in Times Square and walk down the Vegas Strip while packing! Perhaps, but perhaps the people who live in those locales genuinely do not want you to do so. We can argue whether that’s right or wrong until we’re blue in the face but it doesn’t change the fact that if national reciprocity becomes law, we’re only getting the people in these states agree at the end of the barrel of a federal gun. We won’t have “won” anything. We’ll have only have managed to use the abusive, tyrannical power of the federal government to do our bidding on this particular issue.
That isn’t a win, that’s a loss on all counts and by any measure. And what proponents of national reciprocity fail to understand is that any entity that has the power to enforce the mandate on the other states also has the power to take it away.
Just as we who support the Second Amendment profess, we don’t just merely “like guns” or want them for hunting. We understand that the fundamental nature of owning and bearing arms is (supposedly) to keep government in check (or, in our case, not).
Likewise we can’t look forward in time and know that some future Congress and administration, using the precedent that national reciprocity would create, would use it to enact a national ban on some kind of gun(s), restrict ownership to so many rounds of ammunition or limit magazine capacity. Nation wide.
Further, we can’t know if they would use this legislation as a stepping stone to create a federal database of gun owners or enact a national permitting system. I argue that it can and will come to this. We need only look at history to know our fate.
All that said, I still come back to the fact that any permit is already an infringement on our Second Amendment rights. Isn’t it better to know that New York, New Jersey and California are gun rights hell-holes and just avoid them if one chooses? What about the people who work and live there?
It’s very simple. Vote with your feet and your wallet. Or work within the political framework to change it. Unfortunately, Democracy being what it is, that means that if 50.1% of any group doesn’t see eye-to-eye with you, you lose. So again, either live with it or do what it takes to move to freer pastures.
So be careful what you wish for. Concentration and consolidation of power is never a good thing. While the bill in question here involves guns and seems to further a civil right, many believe it’s something that gun owners should applaud and support. But that’s short-sighted at best and just plain idiotic at worst. Rather than advocate for wielding abusive hammer of federal power, we should be working for changes that result in less concentration and consolidation of power in D.C.
We should be cheering for the Brexits and Catalonias of the world. That means that more people will have more freedom to choose how they want to live and be governed rather than being dictated to by a central bureaucracy hundreds or thousands of miles away. Likewise, at home we should be advocating for the Texits and Calexits. This only contributes to more freedom and political experimentation.
After over 200 years of history, we can see what the Founders who created this nation got right and what they got wrong. We don’t have to be content to live in a left/right, two-party system. What would the possibilities of gun rights, free speech, or human rights be if more places were allowed to live by their own laws and rules?
Would that result in pockets of tyranny that are worse than we see from D.C.? Perhaps. But we might also see pockets of even more freedom and liberty created. Would you move to Texas or Montana or some other jurisdiction that not only respects the absolute right to bear arms, including machine guns and silencers, with no permits or licenses? What if the tax rate was non-existent or extremely low and there were no federal taxes or IRS to worry about? What could that do for your personal? Or for your business’s?
Sadly, because so many of us advocate and support faulty, dangerous initiatives like national reciprocity that only strengthen the the federal government’s power, I fear we will never know.