The Second Amendment bars local, state and federal governments from passing any law that seeks to control the keeping or bearing of guns. It bars Rhode Island’s “blue card” provision, which forces citizens to take a written test and pay a fee to purchase a handgun. It bars Texas’ Concealed Handgun License which mandates an approved course, a test and a fee for residents who want to carry a gun. It bars New York’s SAFE Act, which makes it a crime for citizens to load their handgun with more than seven rounds (unless they’re shooting at an approved shooting range). It bars New Jersey’s gun registration laws, which require all citizens to register all guns with the state government. Does supporting the Second Amendment, which bars gun control, make me an insurrectionist? Well one thing is for sure . . .
If I was, I’d be an armed insurrectionist. Just like the idea of a felon being able to legally purchase a gun, the idea of a citizen having a gun to overthrow the government makes a lot of people very, very nervous. Including, of course, the government. As well it should.
In my first gun control debate with Juan Pacheco I steered the “discussion” into three basic areas: the natural and civil right of self-defense, the deterrent effect of firearms on criminals, and private gun ownership as a check on government tyranny. For the first two topics, Juan trotted-out the peace, love, there’s got to be a better way argument. Which isn’t really an argument so much as an emotional appeal. Thanks to Juan’s passion and street cred, his words hit home.
When it came to government tyranny, Juan was lost. The “Former Gang Banger and Youth Violence Prevention Specialist” is from El Salvador, where rival drug gangs and a brutal government impose terror and tyranny on the people through force of arms. Juan couldn’t tell the audience that “Americans don’t need guns to defend themselves against government tyranny, and even if they had them they wouldn’t be able to do anything against government controlled military might.” Because he knew it wasn’t true.
Which put him in a bit of a rhetorical blind, especially as Juan’s not blind to the current trend of government over-reach, including police militarization. “We need to do the little things now to stop the tyranny from happening,” he asserted. I agreed with him on that point, but also pointed out that by the time most citizens would realize there’s a government tyranny that needs fighting it’s too late to tool-up. Their right to keep and bear arms is, effectively, gone.
A friend of a friend works at a university in Rhode Island. She’s got a stalker: a former student who failed to graduate. The stalker’s showed up at graduation every year for the last ten years. This year the stalker student confronted the teacher and threatened her. “You’ll be sorry,” she promised. She left phone messages describing guns. The teacher went to the police. The paperwork has been filed. Now the teacher wants a gun.
To acquire a handgun in the Ocean State, the teacher must first obtain an official firearms educational booklet, study it and take a test. If she passes, three working days later or so, the State will send her a card that gives her the legal right to buy a handgun. After paying for the gun, she has to wait seven days before she can take possession. She can keep it at home and work—well she could if the university didn’t ban guns on campus—but she can’t carry the gun without a concealed handgun license.
If she applies for a carry permit from the Providence police, she must complete approved instruction, pass a shooting test, submit her fingerprints, pass a criminal background check, provide three notarized personal references (who have to be personally interviewed), write-up an explanation of her need and pay $250. It took me five months to get my license from a city that is “shall issue” (the City must prove why I shouldn’t have a license).
If the stalked teacher applies to the Rhode Island Attorney General for a concealed weapons permit, she must go through all of the above. It’s a faster process (approximately one month) and costs less ($40). But the State-issued carry permit/concealed handgun license process is “may issue.” The odds of denial are higher at the state level—depending on the Attorney General’s political perspective.
It would take the teacher a minimum of 43 days to exercise her natural, civil and Constitutionally protected (both State and federal) right to keep and bear arms. It could take as many as 120 days. Or more. Not to mention the time and money spent pursuing the goal. Or the fact that she may not succeed. (If she lived in New Jersey it simply wouldn’t happen.) By that time, she may well be dead.
What’s true on the local level is also true on the national level. By the time it dawned on El Salvador’s population that they needed a gun to protect themselves against murderous drug thugs and government troops, it was too late. They couldn’t get one. Oh sure, they can get a gun on the black market, just like the teacher above. Good luck with that. And the aftermath should they use it.
Like every other gun guy who believes the Second Amendment prohibits ANY gun control laws, I’ve got nothing against laws that punish gun owners for criminal acts. If a person uses a firearm to intimidate or murder someone they should face appropriate penalties. If they poach on posted private land they should face the legal consequences. I’m OK with laws against discharging a firearm in built-up areas.
Actions have consequences. Nothing wrong with that. All the pre-crime laws? The purchasing prohibitions and shooting tests and licensing fees and city, state and federal permissions and paperwork? It all has to go. These laws are all ineffective and unconstitutional. They are a cancer on our freedom. Our right to keep and bear arms.
What are the odds of rolling back government regulations on gun purchase and ownership? Not as bad as you might think. Several states have reverted to Constitutional carry (no permit required) in the last decade. The federal assault weapons ban expired. Illinois, the last holdout against legal concealed carry (in theory), is creating a system to “allow” residents to bear arms.
A return to Constitutional principles is possible. Here’s another interesting sign from Tyler Cowan’s article More Freedom on the Airplane, if Nowhere Else:
We don’t really know the total regulatory burden in our economy today, in part because there are too many rules and side effects to add up all the costs. Nonetheless, we are continually increasing the obstacles to doing business. America has lost the robust productivity growth of much of the postwar era, and the share of start-ups in the economy has been falling each decade since the 1980s. Although overregulation is hardly the only culprit, it is very likely contributing to the problem.
The point isn’t that we should eliminate all regulation or give up on clean air and water. In fact, we may need tougher guidelines — albeit simpler ones — to govern what is permissible for activities like financial risk-taking or burning coal. Still, a paring back of regulation in many areas, based on clearer priorities, seems in order.
This from The New York Times. While the pro-gun control newspaper would never make the connection between a regulation roll-back and the removal of gun control laws, I do. Anything that shrinks to size and power of government in our lives is a good thing for The People of the Gun.
Meanwhile, I declare that I am not an armed insurrectionist. I do not want to violently overthrow the United States government. But I believe that our right to keep and bear arms keeps Americans from having to do so and gives us the means should it become necessary. Which it isn’t. Yet. And hopefully never will be.