Or… Giving Away The Rights They Don’t Think Matter

Yesterday, protestors marched all over the world to protest gun violence and demand more gun control be imposed on America’s citizens. These marches, led by the young, captured national headlines (including the supposedly conservative New York Post, which has gone all-in on demands for more gun restrictions and has curated its news pages towards that agenda). Many are making hay over the fact that these protests are international, as if the citizens of other countries have any sort of moral suasion when it comes the rights of Americans. But, the most galling aspect of these protests is the sudden presumption of deep wisdom on the part of some high school and college students.

The poster child for all this is David Hogg, a student at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school where a recent mass shooting took place. Mr. Hogg has become a vocal activist against gun rights, and has captured the media’s attention with his earnest fervor. For the Left, he’s an icon to rally behind. For the Right, he’s a target of derision. The marketplace of ideas will ultimately decide which view carries the day.

It is amusing to me, amongst all the supposedly profound chatter, that Mr. Hogg has voiced protestations against a different sort of rights violation, even as he forcefully demands the violation of the gun rights of tens of millions of Americans. In response to his school’s planned requirement that students only carry clear backpacks, he complained of a violation of First Amendment rights.

The Right immediately leapt on this hypocrisy, of course, but hypocrisy is a staple of modern life. Many aren’t bothered by hypocritical or logically/intellectually inconsistent positions when it comes to individual rights, because they don’t see individual rights as a package deal. As is true of a too-common view of the Constitution itself, rights matter when they matter, and don’t matter when they get in the way of a goal. Thus, we can reconcile Mr. Hogg’s esteem for free speech and privacy with his antipathy for the right to bear arms, whether it be in self-defense or in resistance to tyranny (Mr. Hogg should pay more attention to that tyranny bit – his rhetoric and his body language are starting to stink of totalitarianism).

But, young Mr. Hogg and his anti-gun brethren should not surprise us. Indeed, it is keeping with the long history of politics that young people earnestly crave the power to forcibly impose their will on others. Of course, they never think of it that way, preferring instead to couch their authoritarian desires in high language that elevates the masses over what they perceive as elites, outsiders, and those whose beliefs do not conform to their “mainstream.” Thus, the deep opposition to dissent on college campuses. Thus the oft-quoted adage “If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35, you have no brain,” that speaks to the lag between emotional and intellectual growth. Thus, the roots of the Bolshevik revolution among Russian students.

It’s also amusing to consider that the opinion of the young on this matter is held in such high esteem, when society does not grant these same young people the rights and privileges of adulthood in so many other matters of far less impact on the rights of others.

Even if theirs is the majority opinion, however, the Constitution exists to protect against majority opinions that run afoul of individual rights. America is a Republic, where majority opinion is counterweighed by restrictions on what government is permitted to do unto its citizens. Restrictions emplaced by the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, and the Constitution’s language is quite clear when it comes to gun rights, attempts at obfuscation and historical revisionism notwithstanding.

Lets consider, however, the possibility the Constitution’s drafters got it wrong on guns. They were smart enough to recognize that nothing they wrote should be set in stone. So, there’s a mechanism in place to make changes.

So, if you’re among those who thinks guns in private citizens’ hands is a bad thing, here’s what you gotta do:

1 – Convince 2/3 of each house of Congress to vote for an amendment to repeal the Second Amendment. If you can’t do so with the current group, elect enough anti-gun legislators to get that supermajority.

2 – Convince the legislatures of 38 states to vote in favor of your repeal amendment. If you can’t do so with the current group, elect enough anti-gun legislators to get that supermajority.

3 – Congratulations, you’ve repealed 2A. Now, convince the tens of millions of Americans who own the 350 million guns currently in private hands to turn them over to the government.

Yes, these are all high hurdles. Even before we get to the practical questions surrounding Step 3 (are you willing to send armed and armored police or the military into every house in the nation, searching for guns?), the fact is that 41 states have advanced in a strongly pro-gun direction over the past 30+ years, with enactment of right-to-carry legislation. And, 15 states have instituted permitless “constitutional carry,” an even bolder step in the direction of gun rights. 15 is enough to derail your repeal. The hurdles are high on purpose, and you should be grateful, because transient popular opinion should not reign supreme over the core fabric of our nation’s function.

But, just as I assert 2A protects my inalienable right to keep and bear arms, I also assert on your behalf that 1A protects your inalienable right to try and repeal 2A. So, have at it.

Two notes of caution for you as you pursue your wishes:

  • Don’t try to skirt the process. Don’t think that you can convince a feckless Congress to pass restrictions that gun owners consider illegitimate and think that they’ll meekly comply. Even blue-state gun owners have defied state-level infringements (see: CT and NY “assault weapon” registration mandates, with 5% and 11% compliance rates), and even nations that enacted substantial gun restrictions witnessed farcically low compliance rates (see: Australia’s buy-back program and its 16% compliance). If you want your view to win the day, do so by the book.

  • Be very, very cautious about violating the sanctity of the Bill of Rights. Rights are a package. Give one away and the rest start to topple like dominoes. There’s been a slow degradation over the past century of progressivism and statist incursion, but things can accelerate very quickly (see how quickly Venezuela devolved to a dictatorship?).

The Second Amendment is the “teeth” that protects the balance of the Amendments, and your individual rights in general. The Revolution’s first shots were fired over a gun-grab by the government. If you think it’s farcical to consider that an armed populace can resist tyranny, ask yourself why every tyranny in history made it a high priority to disarm its citizens, and then read Entry #633 in my Gun Rights Lessons Series.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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