Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Monday, September 15, 2008

No right to violate rights

I haven't written, so far, about H.R. 6691, which would, if enacted, invalidate most of Washington D.C.'s most egregious violations of the right to keep and bear arms, and also preempt local officials' ability to set gun policy in the future. The reason for my reticence has been that even if, as expected, the bill passes in the House, I think it very unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. Such an outcome (House passage, followed by quiet oblivion in the Senate) would be, for politicians, the best of both worlds--the people remain disarmed, but ostensibly "pro-gun" legislators can claim to have done their best (as could the NRA). I am not alone in seeing this as mere political theater, designed to keep the pro-gun natives from getting restless.

I hope I am wrong about the foregoing, and as often as I'm wrong when I don't want to be, it certainly wouldn't be a man-bites-dog situation if I blew this call, too.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write about this today is to rebut a claim that the citizen disarmament crowd is making a lot these days--that H.R. 6691 is wrong because it is an attack on local authority. The New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, for example, charges that it is hypocritical for Congresspeople representing New Hampshire (the "Live Free or Die" state) to support the bill.

But the gun lobby is not satisfied with the D.C. Council’s efforts and is taking this opportunity to encourage Congress to meddle in local legislation. They are pushing hard for H.R. 6691, a bill that would not only repeal D.C.’s current gun regulations but also prevent the D.C. City Council from enacting any gun-related legislation in the future. It is an obscene attempt to prevent the residents of Washington, D.C. from governing themselves. How ironic that the only two congressional cosponsors from New England come from the state with the motto Live Free or Die.
Columnist Tom Teepen (whom I have mentioned before) makes a similar argument, whining that the bill "would strip the district of its right set its own firearms regulations . . . ."

The Brady Campaign says:
Can anyone imagine citizens in St. Augustine, Florida or Marion, Indiana or Clemmons, North Carolina standing by while Congress erased any of their laws?

Of course not.

Well, the people of the District of Columbia don't like it either.
. . . And the Washington Post:
HOUSE DEMOCRATS make much of their support for the right of the District to self-government. Too bad they are willing to sacrifice this basic tenet of American democracy to the political self-interests of members cowed by the powerful gun lobby. How else to explain a planned vote on legislation so extreme it would strip the District of all power to regulate guns?
. . . And the New York Times:
The bill is a gross trampling on the right of the district to govern itself, but it is far more than that.
Etc., etc.

The point missed by all these people is that what would be "trampled" by H.R. 6691 isn't a right, because there is no right to deprive others of their rights. Residents of Washington D.C. have, like all Americans, a Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental, absolute human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and if the D.C. city council chooses to violate that right, then the federal government is obligated to thwart them.

Those lamenting the "trampling" of D.C.'s local authority tend to claim that the people of D.C. overwhelmingly support such draconian gun laws. Perhaps that is true; perhaps not, but such claims are irrelevant. If one person wants to exercise something approaching the full extent of his Second Amendment rights, the majority have no right to stop him from doing so. As has been pointed out innumerable times before, we do not live in a democracy, in which 51% of the people can vote away the rights of the other 49%; we live in a Constitutional republic, in which the rights of the minority are to be protected from the whims of the majority.

The recent activity with regard to H.R. 6691 might be nothing more than a cynical bid to mollify gun rights advocates without actually doing anything, but it is not a hypocritical attack on anyone's rights.


the pistolero said...

One wonders what these people would be saying if it was the First, Fourth or Fifth Amendments being crapped on by local municipalities...or the 14th, sort of like it was with the whole "separate but equal" doctrine, as the Supreme Court ruled. I always thought the Second Amendment was more or less seen as the bastard stepchild of perhaps not only the Bill of Rights, but the entire Constitution. I have a little more hope that one day that might not be the case, but so far I have not yet been disabused of that notion.

Sebastian said...

It's not really political theater in any greater sense than all politics is a good bit of theater. But you're correct that this bill probably stops in the Senate, but that's no reason not to push it. You have a few outcomes here:

1. It gets on the floor of the Senate for a vote, in which case you now have Obama by the balls, and get to make it an election issue.

2. Harry Reid protects Obama by keeping it off the floor, in which case you now have that as an election issue to use against Democratic leadership, including Obama.

3. You have an excuse to pressure blue dogs to buck their leadership with a discharge petition. You can do what was done in the house by threatening to make the discharge petition a key vote.

4. We now have the House on record too as being for or against Heller, basically.

5. There is some chance it might actually pass the senate. It's small, but it's non-zero.

So yeah, it's a bit of theater, but it's how the game is played.

Kurt '45superman' Hofmann said...

I'll acknowledge that I gave inadequate consideration to the first two points you brought up, Sebastian (especially the second, which I think is much more likely a scenario than the first).

The_Chef said...

The fundamental error these nitwits make is their idea of where rights come from.

To these people, we must remember that rights come from the state. After all, isn't the Bill of rights established by the State for its citizens?

This idea is of course complete horseshit.

The Bill of Rights was listed as a codification of rights that transcended state intervention or control. In other words the BoR is a kind of "Including, but not limited to..." list.


W W Woodward said...

"Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

Sound familiar?

And, if I remember correctly, the same people who are screaming, "Gun control today, gun control tomorrow, gun control forever" are members of the same group who were so adamant that Constitutional rights should be upheld no matter the opinions or prejudices of state and local government officials.

Looks like the shoe is on the other foot now. We need to make sure it pinches their toes as much as it pinched the toes of the segregationists in the late fifties and sixties.

Sebastian said...

Two is the most likely. Reid will protect Obama by refusing to bring it to the floor. It's not as good as getting it to the floor and make Obama put his money where his mouth is, but it can still be used. As long as it's pending on the floor, Obama's opponents still get to say:

"There's a bill on the floor Senator, if you're such a supporter of the Second Amendment and the Heller decision, why haven't you signed on to it?"