Why we all need the Democrats to abandon gun control

  • Hal Herring


Page 2

Of his choice of McCain for president, he says: "We all have reservations, I know. But in the long run, I don't really believe that a president can achieve world peace, or solve all of our environmental problems. But I do know that the president can stop the importation of all firearms, can make the cost of a federal firearms license be $10,000, can put OSHA in charge of firearms in the workplace, can empower the EPA to control lead. The president can do these things without any votes, without Congress. And (Obama) is the most anti-gun politician who has ever run for president. Now he is saying that he supports the Second Amendment, but he can support the Second Amendment and still ban guns."

Gresham says the Supreme Court, which could see the appointment of two new, lifelong justices during the next presidential administration, will be the real battleground. "The Heller decision is the most important decision on the Second Amendment ever made. And it was 5 to 4. With two justices possibly retiring during this next administration, we cannot afford to have them replaced by justices nominated by Obama, and confirmed by a Democratic Senate."

But there are other reasons that the gun vote will go to a Republican. Gun ownership is highest in rural areas, where self-sufficiency is regarded as a virtue, and the Republicans, despite all, have retained the cachet of being the party of boot-strappers. Hunting for meat is a prime example of self-sufficiency, and guns are a part of that sense of self-reliance. One does not give up guns simply because some people use them illegally and create fear and tragedy.

Many Americans value the Second Amendment for a very old reason: as a guarantee, not that tyranny will not happen, but that it can at least be opposed. They believe that the Second Amendment guarantees the existence of all the other amendments, and that, to paraphrase Machiavelli, an armed man is a citizen, and an unarmed man is a subject. That doesn't mean that an American who chooses to be unarmed is any less of a citizen, but if we lose the choice to be armed, we have more or less lost the value of our citizenship. Many gun owners find gun-control advocates naïve when they argue that guns are useless to fight tyranny in modern times. Today's America is not somehow exempt from the kind of oppression that has at times overtaken every other nation on earth, even our own. Gun-control backers act as if we have arrived at the end of history — as if there is far more to fear from an armed populace than there is from anything else that the future may hold.

The gun-rights advocates have their own contradictions, though. As a group, they have failed to explain why, if they despise government power, they consistently vote for a political party that has claimed government authority over decisions like abortion rights, religion, and marriage rights. Few gun-rights proponents address the attacks on civil rights made by the current Republican administration, or explain why those attacks shouldn't matter when it's time to endorse a Republican candidate for president. Although gun rights and social conservatism may appeal to the same kinds of people, they are actually two opposing ideas. To hold them both smacks of a citizen who does not really value liberty at all, but wants a government empowered to enforce his or her values on everyone else. How is this different from the way gun-control advocates want only their values respected?

Single-issue gun-rights voters are especially destructive when it comes to environmental issues. Year after year, Republican politicians swear allegiance to the Second Amendment, an act that costs them nothing, but guarantees the gun vote. Then they support measures to exploit, degrade, and even sell off the public lands and waters that hunters and fishermen depend on. Neither the NRA nor the gun voters themselves do anything to protest this. The gun vote has gone to anti-environment politicians for so long now that millions of non-hunting American no longer associate hunters with conservation, despite the fact that sportsmen have painstakingly restored wildlife and habitat, rivers and lands, with their gun and ammunition tax dollars, their license fees and waterfowl stamps. This will eventually backfire on gun owners — and on conservationists. In a society increasingly disconnected from nature and hunting, with places to shoot growing increasingly scarce, fewer citizens grow up in a traditional gun culture. That means fewer hunters will fund assets like the Federal Wildlife Refuge system, and fewer shooters will respond to future, inevitable challenges to the Second Amendment. 

It is not too late for a new vision, one as unique as the nation itself. If the Democratic Party would recognize the Second Amendment as the Supreme Court has interpreted it in the Heller decision, and reassure gun voters that the years of backdoor maneuvers to promote gun control are over, the Republican deadlock on the gun vote could eventually be broken. It seems a small price for the Democrats to pay. All they have to do is recognize the Constitution.

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