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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Sporting Rounds

While Brian Linse is probably right about our fundamentally different views, one good riposte deserves another.

According to Brian’s view,

The right to keep and bear arms is set forth in the Bill of Rights, and the limits that government can put on individual liberties so innumerated are subject to review by the Supreme Court. Just as we limit speech in certain narrow situations, it is perfectly rational and logical to limit gun ownership.

While I will not concede the point, in the interest of being sporting I’ll take a shot at it from his court.
In that vein, it was interesting to learn about Brian’s buddy with the penchant for illegal weaponry. As Brian explains it, his friend makes it a point to break both the existing laws and the rules of gun safety by illegally buying guns and caching them in public areas. Brian feels that since his friend chooses to break the existing laws, we should pile on more in the vain hope he’ll find one to his liking. Take that to its logical conclusion and the only way to ensure compliance is a complete ban on everything remotely resembling a firearm. Does limiting a right described by the Constitution include eliminating it?

Brian also states

Chuck Shumer’s got no chance of taking my guns away, but it’s not because I’m better armed than he is, it’s because the Constitution and the representatives elected by the people won’t let him.

Brian is probably correct that Chuck Shumer’s appointed minions won’t burst into his house to physically take the family shotgun. Yet. In today’s society attempts to do so would at the very least end up with the Irish scene described by Perry in the following blog, and Brian’s buddy’s buried arsenal might well come into play. If the current trend of malediction towards gun owners continues, however, then the representatives elected by people twenty years from now may well let him and that musty scrap of parchment be damned.

In the meantime, however, if enough laws are passed limiting how a piece of property can be obtained, owned or used, then at some point the property becomes unusable. Therein lies the whole danger of the “Limited Rights” concept. If you have to ask for permission, then it is not a right; it’s a privilege subject to the whims of the current administration. In that regard, Chuck’s crew is well on the way to taking away your guns. Ask any resident of New Jersey or California who saw legally purchased, owned and registered firearms become illegal weapons overnight. Ask the residents of New York City who had the police call up and tell them to turn in the rifle that was just outlawed. Ask any of the thousands of innocent people nationwide who failed a NICS check because they have a common name.

Obeying laws is always a matter of private choice. So is engaging in commerce. That’s the point Brain seems to have missed in the first article. It’s not just about guns. Its about your right to dispose of your property as you wish. Should the state be involved when you sell the neighbor your old car? Should you have to call up the DMV and obtain his driving record, then verify he has valid auto insurance and get him to take a breathalyzer before you trade keys for cash? Should his mental health records be made public so you can check for evidence of depression before selling him that rope from your garage? Where do you draw the line? Private transactions between individuals involve a certain amount of trust. If, as in Brian’s nutty friend’s case, one of the parties chooses to break that trust than no number of laws is going to stop him.

If it is really a Bill of Limited Rights constantly re-defined by additional laws as Brian suggests, then the only way to protect your cherished liberties is by keeping those limits to the absolute minimum. In the case of the 2nd Amendment, with well over 20,000 gun laws on the books, I would suggest that we are already well past any sort of reasonable minimum.

Incidentally, I rather liked Ginger Stampley’s modest proposal. Something very similar to it has been on the books for about 30 years. It’s called the Gun Control Act of 1968. Trying to enforce it is the prickly part of the whole thorny issue. It all boils down to: “If I just met you, how do I know you are really you?” If I read Ginger correctly, she’s implying that if you manage to fool me, I become responsible for your actions. Rather alarming, that.

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