Since the Supreme Court held gun ownership to be an individual constitutional right in D.C. v Heller, anti gun groups have redoubled their efforts to find new and creative ways of preventing law abiding people from enjoying the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. These people miss the point, as finding a creative way to violate a right is just as wrongful (and unconstitutional) as directly violating the right:
- Scott Dixon, an engineer, suggests imposing a $400/year tax on each gun that a person owns, as a way of reducing gun ownership. He believes that he is “acknowledging the constitutional right to bear arms,” but in the same breath wishes to impose an onerous tax simply to prevent people from exercising that right. Taxing a constitutional right, with the purpose of preventing the exercise of that right, is plainly unconstitutional. For example, the government can tax newsprint in order to raise money, but it cannot impose a huge newsprint tax that would drive the newspapers out of business. Similarly, the government can tax medical services, but it would be unconstitutional to impose a large tax on abortions in order to deter women from having that procedure performed. It is a wonder that Mr. Dixon’s article was even printed, given the gaping holes in its legal reasoning. Also important to note is that criminals don’t register their (illegal) guns nowadays, so there is no reason to believe that they would pay hundreds of dollars to register them under Mr. Dixon’s plan.
- Elizabeth Amrhein, a blogger, suggests thats bullets be banned. She thinks that banning bullets, while allowing gun ownership, would be a “reasonable compromise.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A gun without bullets is pointless, as one cannot exercise the right to armed self defense with an empty gun. The constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms, and logically that means useful arms. Banning bullets, requiring that barrels be filled with lead to prevent the guns from firing, or otherwise rendering the gun useless are just as violative of the Second Amendment as an outright ban on guns. Just as a ban on newsprint, ink, or blogging software would violate the First Amendment right to free speech, a bullet ban would violate the Second Amendment.
I find it sad that there are those who spend their time and creative energy looking for (non existent) loopholes through which our most basic rights can be violated. Luckily, our legal system has hundred of years of jurisprudence which make clear that the kind of gun restrictions suggested above would be unconstitutional.
To those still intent on finding creative ways of infringing the Second Amendment, I would say the following. First, realize that the gun rights of law abiding citizens are the wrong target for your activism, as is is the actions of criminals that cause crime. Since those criminals are not willing to obey the laws against murder, what chance is there that they will obey the law against gun ownership? Secondly, if you do manage to succeed with some novel way of violating the Second Amendment, the rights you care about would likely be subject to similar violations. As Alan Dershowitz said, “Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of a public safety hazard, don’t see the danger in the big picture. They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.” Finally, I would say that as liberal person who grew up in an anti gun family and only recently recognized the benefits of gun ownership, it is quite possible that you would embrace gun rights if you took the time to learn the facts, see that guns are nothing to fear, and see that gun rights may fit in with your other values.
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