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Guns and Crime

You decide: the gun debate between libertarians and conservatives

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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.

Take, for example, Ben Shapiro’s notorious interview with Piers Morgan, as well as any interview Steven Crowder has done on the subject with SkyNews.

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.)

Conservatives:

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.

Libertarians:

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!


Richie Angel is a Co-Editor in Chief of The New Guards. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. jay

    March 11, 2018 at 10:51 am

    very well written nice to see someone throw facts over emotion

  2. Kathy Deles

    March 11, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Excellent article. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

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Foreign Affairs

Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

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Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

The foreign relations mess stemming from Jamal Khashoggi’s murder continues to grow more chaotic despite Saudi Arabia’s attempt to cover it up with regularly changing stories. The latest attempt at damage control comes from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Fox News’ Bret Baier him, pressing multiple times about Mohammad bin Salman’s role in or knowledge of the operation that led to Khashoggi’s murder. The blame is being placed on the individuals who carried out the operation; as much space is being created between the direct actors and Saudi leadership as possible.

One important note in the interview was when al-Jubier said they do not believe the entire 15-man “kill team” was at the consulate where when Khashoggi was killed there. He admitted he did not know whether Turkey really had a recording of what happened during the incident, nor whether the United States had intelligence that contradicted the Kingdom’s story.

The responses from the foreign minister were in stark contrast to the indignation exuding from the Kingdom for two weeks following the initial report of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

My Take

As I wrote last week, Saudi Arabia gravely underestimated the international response to this incident. They thought they could get rid of a dissident as they have done in the past and the response would be muted. They didn’t take into account his American ties and the desire of the Turks to expose them at every turn.

How is this going to end? It won’t, at least not for a while. Unlike other international news stories of similar magnitude, this one has multiple forces bent on keeping the story going until a satisfactory resolution is reached. It won’t be reached. The White House and the Kingdom will do whatever they can to sweep this under the rug and make people forget.

This stinks, but here’s the sad reality: “Justice” will not be delivered the way it should and the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States will return to the status quo in a few months.

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Foreign Affairs

First charge filed against Russian for interfering with elections

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First charge filed against Russian for interfering with elections

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova is allegedly part of Project Lakhta, a Russian operation intended to sow political division ahead of the midterm elections as well as other elections around the world. She has been charged by the Justice Department for interfering with the United States political system.

Here is the press release from the DOJ:

Russian National Charged with Interfering in U.S. Political System

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/russian-national-charged-interfering-us-political-system“The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case demonstrates that federal law enforcement authorities will work aggressively to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of unlawful foreign influence activities whenever feasible, and that we will not stand by idly while foreign actors obstruct the lawful functions of our government. I want to thank the agents and prosecutors for their determined work on this case.”

According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of “Project Lakhta,” a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering. Project Lakhta includes multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in the United States, members of the European Union, and Ukraine, among others.

My Take

This story will be spun from its surface assertion of Russian interference helping President Trump and other Republicans win in 2016. That assertion is inaccurate as the DOJ release indicates, but it won’t stop mainstream and leftist media from calling this the smoking gun against Trump’s presidency.

What this project allegedly did was push forth divisive messaging that was intended to affect people on both sides of the political aisle. This is important to understand because it wasn’t intended to drive one candidate or another. It was designed to take whatever political position any given person has and amplify their anger towards the opposing side.

Russia knows if they push the far right further to the right and the far left further to the left, our own anger will fuel the division. They are taken advantage of our freedom.

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Guns and Crime

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards charged for leaking financial data on Robert Mueller’s targets

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Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards charged for leaking financial data on Robert Muellers targets

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of leaking financial documents to BuzzFeed. These documents contained information about some of Robert Mueller’s targets in his probe of Russian election meddling, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Maria Butina, and the Russian Embassy.

Natalie Edwards: Treasury FinCEN official charged with leaking financial records in Russia probe

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/natalie-edwards-treasury-fincen-employee-charged-with-leaking-financial-records-in-russia-probe/U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement that Edwards “betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information.”

“SARs, which are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one’s official duties,” Berman said.

My Take

There has never been a presidency that had so many government employees attempting to derail it. For a senior Treasury Department employee to be willing to go to jail to help a leftist media outlet post some stories exemplifies how unhinged President Trump’s opponents can be.

Trust of public employees is extremely important and, anecdotally, at an all-time low. It isn’t just people in the White House. There are clearly an large number of unhinged activists working for the federal government.

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