To paraphrase George Taylor, “They finally really did it!” Yup. Newsweek magazine finally put their civilian disarmament cards on the table, telling [both of] its readers that the magazine’s owners and editors reject Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Oh wait. Notice the word “any” in red? Kurt Eichenwald’s article argues that you don’t have the right to bear any arms. Specifically, any arms equipped with . . . go on, guess! Or read on . . .
Eichenwald’s article warms-up to the task with the usual anti-gun agitprop prevarication. Like this . . .
Let’s start with an undeniable truth: In the United States, the people have the right to keep and bear arms. And let’s then acknowledge that the childish interpretation of that constitutional amendment—that Americans have the right to whatever accessory they can put on, in or over a gun for the sole purpose of making it more deadly—is a dangerous falsehood.
Childish. Right out of the box Newsweek adopts the elitist statist tone typical of the anti-gun breed. But what’s this? Eichenwald’s railing against rails? Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, but not to put a red dot on their AR? Hogue grips on their Smith & Wesson .44 mag? That’s crazy talk!
Therein lies the chasm between those seeking constitutionally impossible forms of gun control and their political opponents, who view every proposal regulating weaponry as the first step toward dictatorship. Caught in the middle are the majority of Americans who think people should be allowed to keep guns but seesaw over tougher laws regarding those weapons.
Ah, the old “middle way, there is” pseudo-Yoda shtick. A compromise between “absolutists” and gun control advocates: “a gun control policy based on balancing rights and responsibilities.” In fact, most Americans support the Second Amendment, whose words “shall not be infringed” leave little ground for this mythological middle way. At least Eichenwald admits there is such a thing as “constitutionally impossible” gun control.
Speaking of the Constitution, Eichenwald then bolts down the usual anti-gun path: the Second Amendment’s prefatory militia clause means that the right to keep and bear arms is not an individual right. (Hence the cover.) Forgetting to mention that all the rights protected against government intrusion in the Bill of Rights are individual rights. Or the historical records indicating that the Founding Fathers considered it such. And the rest.
And then Eichenwald heads down the other usual anti-gun path: no Constitutionally protected right is absolute!
As every first-year law school student knows, constitutional rights are not absolute. Newspapers stay in business thanks to the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, but they cannot lawfully print child pornography. And citizens have no right to incite imminent violence. Similar restrictions apply to other constitutional rights—most have parameters designed to protect society.
Scalia clearly stated in Heller that the right to bear arms had boundaries. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” he wrote. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” For example, he cited laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or that forbid them in places such as schools and government buildings, or impose conditions on their sale. He also wrote that his decision did not overrule the holding in the 1939 Miller ruling that the sorts of weapons protected are those in common use at the time, and that the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons” was still permissible.
In other words, even one of the modern era’s most conservative justices says gun enthusiasts are wrong when they claim that any limitation on firearms is unconstitutional. Government can place restrictions on firearms with the intent of protecting society.
Good for Justice Scalia! Note: that’s his opinion. Also note: the 1939 Miller ruling was a travesty; Miller and his attorney weren’t even present at the Court to make a counter-argument. And don’t forget: the Supreme Court also upheld racial segregation. Basically, bollocks.
The [individual] “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” means that the “right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” What you do with those arms is subject to government regulation. You can’t use arms to intimidate fellow citizens or extort money or services. You can’t use arms to murder fellow citizens. You can’t use them to incite panic – just as you can’t use your free speech to shout “fire” in a crowded movie house (unless there’s a fire) without legal repercussions.
Keep and bear people, keep and bear. Next up: the money shot! After declaring his antipathy to open carry (“How can anyone tell whether these nincompoops parading around with their guns on display are merely acting like a 4-year-old proudly showing everyone his penis or constitute a deadly menace?”), Eichenwald reveals that he would ban American gun owners from owning “high-capacity magazines,” silencers and you know, deadly stuff.
Firearms enthusiasts claim these devices are needed because a panicky homeowner, facing armed criminals, would be more likely to miss his target and thus need the extra bullets. Which, of course, is the exact argument againsthaving lots of armed people sitting in a movie theater or at a school ready to fire at a mass shooter: In an emergency, those would-be Rambos are more likely to miss the target and put innocent lives in danger. Rather than wasting money on larger magazines, perhaps gun owners need more target practice . . .
The same logic applies to other gun accessories that infringe too greatly on the government’s ability to keep citizens safe. Silencers, for example. While they are subject to minimal federal regulation and already banned in 10 states, they are easily obtained and big sellers. There is no reason anyone outside of law enforcement or the military needs one except to kill people without attracting attention. Guns and accessories designed for no rational purpose other than to break the law—such as the weapons that can be made by a 3-D printer with material that won’t set off metal detectors—should be forbidden.
Not surprisingly, Eichenwald has declared himself the ultimate arbiter of what firearm “accessories” are cool and which ones are eminently infringeable, all in the name of POPS (Protecting Overall Public Safety). Yes, well, after a bit of anti-NRA bile – “the NRA has been working for years to make sure lunatics and felons can obtain guns as easily as possible” – Eichenwald’s finally ready to present his master stroke: a Grand Compromise on Guns!
In this great compromise, that is all the gun controllers get: a ban on high-capacity magazines and other slaughter accessories, universal background checks and a ban on the public display of weapons. That brings us to what gun enthusiasts should receive in the bargain.
In exchange for banning high-cap mags, slaughter accessories (?) and open carry, Eichenwald’s offering “gun extremists” nationwide shall-issue licensing and protection from bans on “cop killer bullets” (hollow point ammunition), “assault rifles” and “flash suppressors” and such. Sold?
There it is: a series of reasonable proposals with something to hate for everyone. But extremists on both sides will never get what they want—all guns everywhere or no guns anywhere. It is up to the rational middle—the vast majority of Americans—to tell the fanatics that the grown-ups are taking over.
Eichenwald finishes on the same note as he started: condescending derision. As a negotiator he makes a fine Trojan horse, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, look at that cover again and tell me this is the man you want to entrust with your gun rights. [h/t DrVino]