Senator Chuck Schumer has a piece in today’s Washington Post that the Post has headlined: A middle ground on gun limits but in reality is anything but a “middle ground”.
In it, Schumer seems to indicate that he understands the position of the gun owner because he once went hunting with fellow Senate Democrat Ben Nelson, he of Cornhusker Kickback fame. Schumer then goes on to state that while the Heller decision unequivocally stated that the Second Amendment clearly means that an individual has a right to own firearms it is somehow tainted:
The case, decided by the court’s conservative bloc, was originally viewed as a setback for advocates of gun safety.
Funny, that. Not “ha ha” funny, but funny in a counter-intuitive way that affirming a enumerated Constitutional provision was decided by the “conservative bloc” and the use of the term “gun safety” as a euphemism for gun restrictions – what they are proposing will not make any gun more “safe”, they are only designed to restrict and control.
Later in the letter, Schumer confirms that intent:
Now that Heller has ruled out the possibility of anyone ever taking away their weapons, gun owners should be more open to some reasonable limitations. No individual right is absolute, after all. While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, no one has a right to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, nor to traffic in child pornography. Likewise, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms also comes with limits.
Reasonable limits. No individual right is absolute. The first words of a tyrant.
Schumer’s use of the “Fire!” analogy demonstrates simple ignorance. It is the same ignorance that we see in a political class who believes that passing a law or writing a strongly worded letter to North Korea or Iran solves the problem. Anyone has the right to yell anything at any time, “Fire!” included. There is no law written on a piece of paper that changes that. There are laws that define the consequences but since free speech is a natural right, it cannot be abrogated. Just because there is a law, if I am willing to suffer the consequences, then words do not stop me. What will stop me is a moral conviction, a sense of propriety and the recognition of right and wrong.
Protection of one’s person and property is another natural right, one recognized by someone we have written about much here, that being John Locke.
So what if we did restrict all .223 caliber rifles to a three shot internal magazine? Would that mean that there would only be three dead kids in Newton? It takes about 5 seconds to reload that magazine and the police took an estimated 20 minutes to secure the scene, so is it somehow less evil to have 15 children dead than 20? Is it acceptable to have one? What would a law change?
I’m also always amazed at the circular and self-defeating “logic” used by the solons of the left. Schumer uses just such a rhetorical tool to make his point. He starts by demonizing the NRA and the Gun Owners of America as being radicalized and only interested in more dues (I’m sure that he would never claim that of one of his major constituent groups – the labor unions):
In the current state of play, moderate gun owners have become convinced by the NRA and other, even more radical gun organizations such as Gun Owners of America that the goal of all gun-safety advocates is to take away their guns. These owners view even the most reasonable gun-safety proposals with suspicion, fearing a slippery slope to a ban on firearms. This paranoia is what gives the gun lobby its power.
It wasn’t always this way. After the assassinations of leaders like Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in the late 1960s, the nation enacted sweeping gun-safety laws — and the NRA did not stand in the way.
[These laws, again, had nothing to do with “gun safety” – they merely ended the ability to purchase firearms and have them shipped via the US Mail without a Federal Firearms license. – Utah]
The NRA was less political in that era and more focused on providing practical assistance to its members, much like AAA does today for automobile owners. But in the 1980s, the group became more militant. Part of this was driven by new leadership, which sought to expand the group’s membership rolls and collect more dues.
So gun owner’s fears are totally unfounded because nobody has been talking about confiscation, right? Then Schumer proceeds to negate his entire premise by admitting that there are Democrats like Sheila Jackson Lee who are. Hell, the de facto ban on guns in DC was the very reason for the SCOTUS decision in Heller. Schumer states:
But this radicalization was also abetted by those who really were seeking an outright ban on guns.
Schumer says that Something Must Be Donetm.
We need to refine those limits in the wake of what happened in Newtown.
The guns issue will remain thorny, but Heller points the way toward a possible compromise, under a new paradigm. All of us — especially progressives — should embrace it.
Somehow I think that when Chuck says “reasonable”, I think he means something else.