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The dodgy dogma of public disarmament

10/26/2017, 3:31 p.m.
In a major setback to anti-gun activists—and a significant advance for Second Amendment advocates—a three-judge panel of the Federal Court ...
Armstrong Williams

In a major setback to anti-gun activists—and a significant advance for Second Amendment advocates—a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in July that the district’s “good cause” requirement for firearm licensing was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear the D.C. government’s appeal of the district courts’ ruling.

The high court’s punt should put the issue to bed, for now at least, of whether a citizen has to seek justification from the government to exercise constitutionally granted rights. In light of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, in which an evil, deranged gunman killed 58 innocent people and injured hundreds of others in a barrage of automatic gunfire directed at an unsuspecting crowd at a country music concert, it would be appropriate to celebrate the court’s upholding of the Second Amendment, not as a victory for “gun rights” per se, but as a win for freedom.

Much of the ground for advocating Second Amendment freedoms has been covered in the media, but at times when a major tragedy places the Second Amendment under intense scrutiny, the basic point bears repeating. The Second Amendment to the Constitution is not about granting rights to citizens to carry guns. It is about denying to government the exclusive monopoly on the use of force and ensuring the preservation of our freedom. Although much-debated, the constitutional text is simple: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Constitution explicitly forbids the government from “infringing” upon the rights of “the people” to keep and bear arms. Why would the framers envision such a statement to be necessary, not on the first drafting of the Constitution, but in hindsight? It is precisely because they knew that they had created a powerful new system of federal government, and they feared that the government could in theory be corrupted and turn against the people. They knew because they had escaped from despotic regimes in Europe, where corrupt kings and monarchs issued edicts that specifically prohibited citizens from bearing arms and thus challenging their tyranny.

Some would argue that the Second Amendment is no longer practical in today’s society, where civil remedies at law are available to citizens who have been abused by the government. Others argue that the harm of allowing firearms in civil society outweighs the good. These arguments are factually and legally indefensible. As a nation of laws, we do not and cannot merely fail to enforce laws that we no longer think are practical. The failure to enforce a law here or there for reasons of mere convenience or “practicality” leads gradually and yet inexorably to a state of lawlessness. If “the people” decide that the government can infringe upon their rights to keep and bear arms, there is a well-organized process for changing the Constitution and amending the law. Absent that occurrence, arguing that the law is impractical is pretty much moot point.