By John D. Dingell III
The American Civil Liberties Union is now claiming that Americans are promoting government repression by exercising their gun rights.
The ACLU has never recognized firearms ownership and their use as a fundamental right. In a March position statement, they let it be known that there are few if any restrictions on gun ownership that they view as violations Second Amendment freedoms. Also, arming teachers is somehow racist. Or something.
Proposals to arm teachers and install metal detectors in schools also raise significant civil liberties implications. Introducing more guns to schools will not make them safer and may especially endanger children of color, who already bear the brunt of teachers and administrators’ racial biases. The solution to gun violence is not more guns, but less.
The ACLU has conspicuously ignored self defense as a right for decades when it involves the use of firearms. This glaring omission gets embarrassing public attention every time people exercising ACLU-approved rights are attacked or killed.
While the ACLU touts itself as a protector of all civil liberties, the core funders of the ACLU strongly support restrictive gun control laws. The ACLU has been attempting to straddle the fence on gun controls for a long time and their internal discomfort has risen sharply since the left’s manufactured response to the Parkland shooting.
It took months, but the ACLU now seem to have found the specious argument yet to explain away their blatant hypocrisy: gun control actually enhances freedom.
Jay Stanley make the case in A Pro-Liberty Case for Gun Restrictions
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, for example, reacted to the May mass school shooting in Santa Fe by callingfor the state’s intelligence fusion centers to engage in automated monitoring of residents’ social media accounts to try to detect incipient attacks. Mass monitoring of Americans’ public social media conversations is the digital equivalent of putting a secret policeman in every coffee shop to listen in on public conversations and report suspicions to the authorities. That is a deeply un-American approach to law enforcement that is highly unlikely to be effective and, at the same time, highly likely to significantly chill our free-wheeling public life.
Gov. Abbott also encouraged state residents to install an app on their phones for reporting tips of suspicious behavior — just the kind of thing that is likely to push people into over-reporting non-conforming behavior to the authorities. Every high school and community in America has people who are alienated and angry or are seen as such by those around them. I worry that if mass shooting events continue, the threshold for suspicion will become much lower and that ever-greater numbers of people will be reported based on ever-slighter suspicions, and based on biases of various kinds, and we’re going to have a lot more law enforcement officers intruding into our lives a lot more based on a lot less. After Parkland, there was a wave of reporting to police of behavior that people found suspicious in those around them.
As we as a society consider the issue of gun violence, these implications for American freedom also need to become part of the conversation. In particular, those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they’re willing to trade for those rights.
This ACLU screed still fails the hypocrisy test. They have never, ever blamed people exercising other ACLU-approved rights for any adverse reactions to those freedoms, even when mayhem and disorder ensued. Quite the opposite, the ACLU has always attacked the reactions. It’s what they do.
Ultimately, the ACLU will come to regret this deceit. They will have to develop ever more convoluted arguments as other rights of which they do approve are used by criminals and bad actors to victimize the public.