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The inter-blog gun wars: credos and constitutions

It is good to see views strongly and forthrightly put, but without rancour and rudeness. It seems that blog culture is developing along much more civil, albeit robust, lines than the puerile exchanges that characterize UseNet and e-groups.

Rather than fire off another long winded broadside in this quite interesting inter-blog debate, I shall confine myself to the most direct remarks by famed meta-blogger Tony Adragna from Quasipundit that are germane to the central argument here.

Tony accurately points out that the variously articulated Samizdata positions on gun ownership and that of Brian Linse (and himself) may be irreconcilable, as indeed they are… but Tony also unintentionally shows exactly why that is the case in his characterization of the duel as:

I have to throw in with Brian on the 2nd Amendment v. gun regulation debate.

In fact the debate is nothing of the kind. As I has said again and again, the Second Amendment is irrelevant. It is nothing more than a useful 200 year old honoured bookmark to remind people of certain things and has no intrinsic relevance to the discussion. If you genuinely think that the right to own weapons comes from the US Constitution, or that it can somehow protect that right from infringement, then I would urge you to take a look at a 1929 painting by the Belgian surrealist, René Magritte showing a picture of a pipe. In case you cannot speak French, the worlds within the painting translate as “This is not a pipe”. When you understand what that means in that context, perhaps you will also understand what the US Constitution actually is and is not.

In the sidebar of the Samizdata is a little phase that explains why I keep hammering away at this point. I refuse to be drawn into defining moral theories which must underpin any legal discussion, within a meta-context in which the state, and its essential nature, is a given regardless of objectively derived first principals. I will not fight my battles on the ground chosen by liberty’s enemies. Tony presents himself as a realist faced with libertarian utopianism, but the reality is actually quite different. Rational libertarians do not advocate either chaos or pious hopes. What we advocate is merely more spontaneous ways of deriving order in which guns tend to feature rather prominently as in reality there is no assumption that people will always act in their rational self interest.

Tony correctly sums up both his and Brian’s position with a statist credo of earth shaking clarity and directness (no, I am not being sarcastic, I really mean it):

I acknowledge the evidence that suggests “registration leads to confiscation”, but how relevant is that evidence in light of our 2nd Amendment? Not very!

I shall doubtless be quoting this single bit of text as the simplest and most elegant possible distillation of the ‘Conservative Nicene Creed of Constitutionalist Faith’ imaginable. Evidence suggests the state will take our weapons but fortunately we have the state to protect us from that happening. Tony then consistently applies the same logic to forfeiture laws:

I also have a problem with part of the argument at Samizdata that deals with forfieture laws. Should the government prove “proceeds of criminal activity” prior to siezure? Yes, I agree! But, that badly enacted forfieture laws exist does not refute the argument that our constitution protects us, and grants redress from, government acts under those badly enacted statutes. OK, it’s hard for me to argue “protection” when there is no de facto protection, but is there de facto protection from anything. Not in the real world.

So here we have the contention that the state does indeed take property without due process because unconstitutional laws have been enacted by the state, thus it is fortunate we have the constitution to protect us from the state enacting unconstitutional laws.

I rest my case.

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