In any given debate on the 2nd Amendment between the Right and Left, the unfortunate truth is that those arguing in favor of drastically heightened or “comprehensive” gun control tend not to know their history or anything about guns generally, and they find it difficult to articulate why a blanket ban on all guns wouldn’t be more productive than simply outlawing certain rifles.
But for a much more nuanced discussion of the unalienable right to keep and bear arms, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’ve never heard a debate between dissenting Right-wing voices. Typically, this will materialize between a libertarian (arguing for as little government as possible) and a conservative (defending natural rights while attempting to maximize freedom through limited yet necessary order).
For purposes of this breakdown, my goal is to simply and briefly present the case for each of these two camps, not to argue in favor of one or another. Again, when two parties hold such similar worldviews, any disagreements will depend on greater levels of nuance than simply “you can’t own a gun” vs. “you can own all the guns.” As such, this might not be the best introduction to the topic, nor would it be very productive to share with your Left-leaning friends. But if you’re a libertarian or a conservative and wish to iron out where you stand on the 2nd Amendment and the appropriate regulation of firearms, then I hope you’ll find this discussion profitable.
(For more background on the 2nd Amendment generally, listen to this episode of The New Guards Podcast wherein I describe the Founders’ views on the right to bear arms.)
Like any right, the right to keep and bear arms must be respected and upheld, but that doesn’t mean it’s absolute. In general, the appropriate standard for small, justifiable restrictions on rights is the maximization of freedom through the proper response to public safety issues.
For instance, free speech doesn’t apply to those who demonstrate a clear and present danger, specifically one involving a call to action that involves intent, likelihood, and imminence. Religious freedom does not protect female genital mutilation, suicide bombings, or human sacrifice. Regarding taxation in general, citizens are required to “cede to [the government] some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”
The 2nd Amendment is no different, and early lawmakers and Founding Fathers understood this. William Blackstone and James Wilson both supported 14th-Century English precedent which asserted, “Riding or Going Arm’d with dangerous and unusual Weapons to the Terror of the People, is an Offence at Common Law, and Prohibited by Statute” — or, as Wilson specifically noted, “[carrying] dangerous and unusual weapons, in such a manner, as will naturally diffuse a terrour among the people.”
This standard was upheld in Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller, along with 1939’s United States v. Miller precedent, that “the traditional militia was formed from a pool of men bringing arms ‘in common use at the time’ for lawful purposes like self-defense.”
In other words, the 2nd Amendment may be curbed in small ways to ensure the public safety, to avoid diffusing terror among the people, and to limit its protection to weapons in common usage. Herein we find the justification for banning nukes, tanks, RPGs, grenades, and fully automatic weapons like AK-47s and M-16s, which present more of a hazard to public safety than a reasonable check against tyranny.
Another check in favor of public safety is federal background checks, which is a small grievance compared with the extreme risk posed by granting violent felons unlimited access to firearms.
Finally, while the undeniable purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to secure the right of the people in order to stand up against a tyrannical government, this can be done without the aid of such extreme measures. If the War on Terror, Vietnam, and most importantly the Revolutionary War have taught us anything, it’s not to count out the little guy.
Not all libertarians are anarchists. #NotAllLibertarians. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable restrictions such as those mentioned for free speech, religious liberty, and minimal taxation.
But the phrase “dangerous and unusual” is entirely subjective. Arguably, all firearms are dangerous, and depending on experience, training, and even video game history, a gun that is unusual to some might be perfectly normal to others.
Furthermore, the “common use” test is so slippery that could readily increase dangers to the American public and needlessly restrict natural rights. A gun should not be banned simply because it is has fallen out of style or is ahead of its time, any more than free speech should no longer apply to MySpace, telegrams, and rotary phones. Who deems a commodity “common”? And what of gun collectors, whose trade relies precisely on obtaining that which is not common? Are they no longer entitled to keep their uncommon arms?
Nuclear weapons have nothing to do with this conversation. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is for the people to adequately defend itself against a tyrannical government. There is no instance in which the people could use nukes against the government without incurring devastating casualties among civilians.
Fully automatic weapons and explosives are a different story. The Founders knew of and sanctioned early automatic weapons such as the Belton flintlock, Puckle gun, and Girandoni air rifle. In 2013, Ben Shapiro erroneously claimed that the 2nd Amendment didn’t extend to owning cannons, but James Madison recognized this very provision in 1812.
Modern semi-automatic rifles are undeniably protected under the 2nd Amendment despite being far more advanced than muskets. Wouldn’t it then stand to reason that an AR-15 is to a musket as an M-16 is to a Belton flintlock or as an RPG is to a cannon?
There is no public safety without the ability to confidently stand against a tyrannical government. Such an occasion is unlikely, but should it become necessary, that’s not the kind of thing to leave to chance. The American people must be suitably armed.
Bring it back in:
This is a compelling debate that I don’t quite know how to settle, and it’s not my intention to do so now. And in all honesty, given that millions of Americans and half the Supreme Court want a total gun confiscation anyway, this is pretty much just a hypothetical exercise in debate rather than a serious referendum on realistic policy.
At the very least, it’s a good space to practice consistency in your constitutional argumentation, so enjoy the practice!
Video: The Racist roots of Liberty control – Who doesn’t like certain people getting rights?
In honour of #NationalWalkoutDay let’s look at those who really don’t like certain people getting rights – specifically the common sense human right of self-preservation.
This is NationalWalkoutDay [Who would have thought that kids would want to skip school?] With one of the most important human rights in the spotlight, it would be a good idea to examine the reasons why this has been suppressed in the past. To begin, consider Hillary Clinton’s statement smearing most of the country:
So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards. “You don’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.”
So who really is opposed to the certain people getting their common sense human rights? The following video from Colion Noir details that Liberty (gun) control has it’s roots in racism:
Gun Control’s Racist History
Interestingly enough, the same people who claim to care about ‘the children’ but whole heartily support Planned Parenthood are the same folks who want to deprive the people of their basic human rights. Who would have thought that was the case?
In Lieu of what is Right – An Interview with Dr. Ken Wright
One of the most vapid and reliably anti-Constitutionalist members of Congress is known to anyone who takes to Twitter, Ted Lieu, of the California 33rd Congressional District, suddenly has a staunch conservative to square off against. I got to sit down for about an hour over the phone with Dr. Ken Wright, who was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done this year (and after Erin Cruz, Austin Petersen, Shane Hazel, and Hunter Hill, that is saying something).
Dr. Wright is a renowned pediatric ophthalmologist who is invited to teach all over the world. For that reason (sorry doc) I thought he might have the demeanor of a college professor. Analytical without a lot of passion. I was right about the analytical part. I was dead wrong about the lack of passion. This is a man who in no way needs to run for Congress, but instead sees it as a public service that he is willing to take on to make the world better for his family and for all of ours as well. It’s probably worth noting that one of the most respected and freedom-oriented members of the Senate, Dr. Rand Paul, is also an ophthalmologist. I also have an acquaintance here in my home town who is a Constitutionalist and an ophthalmologist. There seems to be a pattern here.
I found Dr. Wright to be authentic, passionate about Constitutional freedoms, and a man who will not be bullied by anyone. He supports much of what President Trump is trying to do, however I have no trouble believing he would stand up to the President should he go off the rails. The people of the California 33rd would do well to put a man of such integrity into office, and with him get rid of one of the most staunchly anti-freedom members of the US House of Representatives, Ted Lieu.
BW: What specific experience and education make you feel makes you the most qualified to be a Congressman?
KW: With the present state of our representatives I think as long as you have a pulse you could do a better job. They’re bought. The special interest lobbyists are running the show. Any good, ethical citizen could do a better job and do what is right for the people.
**I needed to take a moment to stop laughing at this answer. It was funny because it’s true.**
I’m a pediatric ophthalmologist. I know people all over the world since I travel for teaching in my field. I was awarded a service medal from the President of Panama after Noriega was ousted due to the work I was doing there. I’m a doctor, and doctors use data and facts to make decisions. We don’t put a Band-Aid on an infection and expect it to go away. Dems in inner cities have made people dependent for more than 50 years with no way out and they end up in gangs or living on welfare. Let’s get factories into the inner-cities. Let’s get them jobs instead of food stamps and a few bucks. I want to actually solve problems instead of creating a never-ending cycle of dependency.
BW: What specific issues will be your main focus if elected?
KW: Immigration is a huge problem right now. President Trump gave Congress the job to put together a real plan for DACA and they’ve done nothing. We need a clear policy regarding immigration. To my mind we need to secure the border. Without that we have open borders. We need a wall for at least part of the southern border. It worked in Israel. Then you can think about what to do with 13 million illegals.
Whether they were invited by the government or not, many illegals came here because we wanted people to come here; we wanted them to do certain jobs like pick crops or be a housekeeper, and it would be wrong to send them all home after so many years. That said, criminals with so much as a DUI have to go. This is my problem with sanctuary cities; they allow criminal illegals to roam free and harm our citizens. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem, but rather an American problem.
The largely law abiding that we choose to let stay can get in line behind everyone else and perhaps pay some fines and do some service, but they shouldn’t be able to get to the head of the line like so many Democrats want, and they certainly shouldn’t be given blanket amnesty.
Healthcare is a big issue, mostly because the Democrats have made it that way with Obamacare. Despite what the Democrats say, there were never bodies lying in the street before Obamacare. No one is turned away from any emergency room. Everyone can get care. Not everyone needs health insurance. If you’re a 20 year old on your first job and in good health, perhaps you don’t need to spend money on health insurance, and it’s wrong for the government to force you to subsidize health insurance for others. We need to repeal McCarron-Ferguson Act which exempts insurance companies from most federal regulation including anti-trust laws. That would allow real free-market competition back.
BW: What failures do you feel have been made on the part of Ted Lieu?
**Note: I asked Dr. Wright to please try to keep this to a top 5 list… I know I could write an article just on this question**
KW: When the Syrian war was really going on he wanted to bring 200K refugees from Iraq and Syria and voted against the SAFE Act. That’s dangerous for America.
He doesn’t protect America first. He wants open borders. He’s for sanctuary cities. He votes against Kate’s Law every time it comes up. He has sponsored legislation for no-money bail, saying bail is unfair to the poor, yet judges can take that into consideration. He wants to take the discretion away from the judges.
He’s a hypocrite. On his web site the number one issue he talks about is climate change. And yet, when he was a state senator he accepted $13K from real estate developers who wanted to build a new stadium, and then he co-sponsors a bill to exempt the real estate developers from environmental regulations. He’s a career politician and has never had a real job in his life. I’ve had a real job. I’ve run a business and put people to work.
BW: What political challenges do you face and how do you plan to overcome them?
Well, District 33 is only 24% Republicans, which has discouraged the GOP and the GOP wasn’t even going to run someone in 2016. However, there’s almost 30% here with no party preference. I was able to take 37% in 2016 and I didn’t have a real organization. I have a whole organization this time and I think winning this district is doable.
BW: With the current debate over gun-control, what are your thoughts?
KW: Well this isn’t an easy issue. I think we all, or at least most, agree a civilian doesn’t need to own a surface-to-air missile. At the same time, the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, it’s about being able to resist a tyrannical government. We need to find a balance. I think for certain weapons perhaps some form of mental evaluation might be in order. The problem is the Democrats always want to take it too far. Instead of making things simple and wanting to implement legislation that might actually save lives they are intent on disarming the population.
BW: There has been a lot of debate over President Trump’s tariffs. How do you feel about them.
KW: Great question. Would you agree that it is equally wrong for one to hire someone to commit murder as it is to commit murder yourself?
KW: Well by the same token, if it’s wrong for us to use slave labor to make our products, it’s equally wrong for us to allow China and other countries to use slave labor without any kind of penalty. The Chinese have a miles long factory where people were crammed into tiny rooms to live and work. It was so miserable that people were jumping to their deaths. Know what the Chinese government did? They put up nets outside the building so that people couldn’t even kill themselves to get away. It’s that miserable and yet we are profiting from it in the form of cheaper goods. You’ll notice that the President isn’t imposing these tariffs on Europe or Canada or other nations that play by the rule of civilized behavior.
BW: I’m personally very much against tariffs, but I have to admit that I never thought about it that way.
KW: Most people don’t.
BW: I ask this of all California candidates since your state pretty much has been the leader on this issue: What about legalization of Marijuana?
The half-life of marijuana is 3-4 days. If you smoke 2 or 3 times a week then the half life becomes about 2-3 weeks. Alcohol is metabolized much faster. I think it should be available but through a pharmacy, and not in smoking form. Physicians were encouraged to give more opioids for pain management and they found it to be profitable. This has led toward a lax attitude toward drugs. Marijuana should be available to those who need it, but we can’t be so careless with how it’s used.
BW: What do you want the people of the California 33rd to know about you?
KW: Both Republicans and Democrats need to realize that we are Americans first. Vote for someone who has the moral fiber to do what is right. Don’t vote for someone just because they might be at your end of the ideological spectrum.
You can learn more about Dr. Ken Wright by clicking here.
Cheap lives & Cheap Virtue: Help the Leftists show they are completely vulnerable to crime.
What better way for everyone to come together than helping them show they are disarmed, keeping the rest of us safe and secure.
Many have seen the video of a Virginia congressional Democratic candidate creating herself a sweet sawed-off AR-15 [resulting in a visit from the ATF ] with nothing more than a Workmate, angle grinder, and her husband’s $1000 firearm. Problem is, not everyone has the means to show their character (or lack thereof), destroying a vital piece of safety equipment in a useless gesture of virtue signaling. This isn’t the same as eating cheap, easy to get Tide pods, these are expensive firearms that take a lot of effort to acquire.
Leftists could destroy other crucial security items to show their desire to be incapable of helping themselves. Instead of obliterating safety items such as guns, they could wreck fire extinguishers or shred first aid kits. But still, this might not be enough to demonstrate their vicissitudes of virtuous victimhood. After all, doing anything to prove their impotence would be contrary to the effort.
We on the Conservatarian, Pro-Liberty side can help the Leftists demonstrate their virtue in dependency.
This is where we on the Pro-Liberty side of the aisle can step in to help them out. We can offer the means for their ‘virtual’ salvation in showing their gun-free status, being unable to defend themselves.
There is no real reason that the virtuous Leftist need to go through the cost or effort to buy a gun just to destroy it for demonstrating they are helpless. Publicly announcing this fact will have a have the same effect for very little cost – in terms of money for at least the moment – medical bills or funeral expenses from being a crime victim could be another story.
This is where we tell them: “Here’s your sign”
Rather than helping themselves, Leftists can publicly proclaim they cannot. We can give them a sign announcing their gun free status as defenseless, each will be sized to suit the circumstances in which it will be displayed. For the domiciles of these potential crime victims a two-faced sign of the 3 by 8-meter variety so every miscreant in the area knows who to target. The back-end of a Prius would need to sport a small but still prominent disarmed declaration – some carjackers may be suffering from bad eyesight. No need to discriminate against those folks after all. A Gun-free button would serve the same function on a personal level. Of course, many a school, church or other establishment have been already proudly displaying their status as a ‘Gun-free’ zone, so they are way ahead of us in this effort.
A win-win-win for everybody.
Leftists could show the illegal element who to victimize. We on the Conservatarian, Pro-Liberty side can be secure from these reprobates. While the ‘job’ of the criminals would be that much easier knowing who cannot defend themselves. This should be something everyone can support especially the potential virtuous victims of the nation’s Socialist Left.