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'Progressive' writer's biggest objection to 2nd Amnd. is best reason it's needed

Best not to ever allow ourselves to be put into a position to find out
Best not to ever allow ourselves to be put into a position to find out
Photo © Oleg Volk. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Writing for The Week last Thursday, "progressive" Zack Beauchamp exhorts Americans to "ban the Second Amendment." Immediately under that headline, he pompously intones, "Imagine the Second Amendment didn't exist, and try arguing for a constitutional right to gun ownership. You will fail." Impressively, Beauchamp has managed the seemingly impossible feat of donning the cape of Captain Obvious, while simultaneously being dead wrong. Obvious, because the Second Amendment is the part of the Constitution dedicated to protecting the right to arms. Dead wrong, because the Tenth Amendment, were it not so routinely raped by Congress, would by itself prohibit nearly all federal gun laws.

Aside from that, though, the screed bore few surprises, and actually, it's a good thing that the gun ban zealots are now reduced to screeching for the repeal or evisceration of the Second Amendment, because that indicates that they finally realize that their attempts to claim that it never really protected private ownership of firearms have ignominiously failed. Let them spend their energy and resources trying to amend the Amendment out of the Constitution. In the fantastically unlikely event that they bully or con two thirds of both houses of Congress into such an atrocity, they would still have the obstacle of getting three fourths of the states to agree to it--meaning 13 pro-liberty states would stop them in their tracks. This country, after all, has a pretty good history when it comes to 13 states standing against tyranny.

Besides, even without the Second Amendment, the fundamental human right it guarantees exists unchanged, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' inability to acknowledge that Supreme Court jurisprudence for well over a century has affirmed that the right pre-dates the Constitution notwithstanding. And if, after all, the government does decide that there is no right to private arms, they haven't begun to solve the problem of taking them away--and that's the biggest problem the gun ban zealots have.

No, what makes Beauchamp's desperate plea interesting is that he describes the idea that a resolute, vigilant, and armed public is the last bulwark against tyranny as "profoundly corrosive of democratic politics," with the quoted text as a hyperlink to an older article of his, this one in the American Conservative (a perhaps surprising place for his writings), in which he argues that the very idea of the need for an armed citizenry as defense against tyranny is destructive to our "democracy" (just don't even get me started on that).

Well, that's familiar. In a book co-written by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence executive director Josh Horwitz, readers are told that "the Insurrectionist idea" (Horwitz's term for the notion that the purpose of the Second Amendment is the protection of the people's means to resist and defeat tyranny) is "a threat to the entire progressive movement." "Progressive" meaning, of course, that the benevolent government will take care of our every need--like a loving Big Brother.

That kind of thinking is threatened not only by the people having the means to resist government, but by the people even conceiving of there ever being a need and legitimate cause to resist government by force of arms. The mere thought that the people themselves bear the responsibility to ensure both their security and their liberty empowers the Great Unwashed far too much for the tastes of those whose "progressive" dogma demands that the people come to the state--and only the state--for all their needs, including the need for protection from the state.

So, back to Zack, and why gun rights as a hedge against tyranny is "corrosive":

The tyranny argument is different from true political rights in one crucial respect: it doesn’t protect a right to democratic action. Voting, staging a protest, or writing a personal blog on politics are all attempts to influence political life through the democratic process. Protecting these rights absolutely, without exception, is a means of ensuring free and equal access to the levers of collective self-determination. . . .

Say what you will about armed revolution, but it isn’t that.

Wrong. As Mike Vanderboegh says, "When democracy becomes tyranny, the armed citizen still gets to vote." The "recall vote from the rooftops" may offend the sensibilities of CSGV and Beauchamp--and certainly U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), as well as Rep. Peter King (R-NY), but there's certainly no need to worry about the ambiguity of "hanging chad."

Beauchamp also relies heavily on the "it can't happen here" ("it" meaning tyranny) fantasy, and of course the old standby that the government and its military are too powerful to fight with private arms. Going back to his more recent "Ban the Second Amendment" article, in The Week:

Protecting gun ownership, it turns out, is a terrible way to facilitate rebellions against the state. That goes double when the weapons protected are handguns rather than automatic rifles, RPGs, and anti-aircraft batteries.

Well, once again, wrong, but thanks for making the case against bans of so-called "assault weapons," because they are "weapons of war," and incidentally, making it harder for anti-gun groups to run away from their historic (and never renounced) war on handguns.

Beauchamp's main focus, though, appears to be on the argument that challenging oppressive gun laws on the grounds that they undermine the people's means of defeating would-be tyrants is too effective at taking "gun control" measures off the table, and thwarts the will of the majority, thus "corroding" our "democracy."

I'd call that a powerful endorsement, rather than an indictment.

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