Gun control, civil liberties, and the AcLU
One of the great disappointments for those of us who consider the Bill of Rights a package deal, rather than the constitutional version of a buffet at Golden Corral, is the ACLU’s muteness on the Second Amendment.
After President Obama’s recent gun-control announcement, for instance, the only concern the ACLU raised was the potential for abuse of the “civil rights of young people” (because more cops in schools could lead to the arrest of more kids, particularly minority kids).
That is a perfectly legitimate concern. But it’s a far cry from the ACLU’s usual stance, which is to push back against any perceived encroachment of civil liberties. Even when those encroachments are not strictly unconstitutional themselves, the ACLU often worries, and rightfully so, about a potential “chilling effect.”
Not so here. Why not?
I can’t agree that a virtually unlimited right to arm yourself in whatever way you want is inextricable from the broad package of civil liberties. After all, any dumb proposition can be cloaked in the language of civil liberties. “No government bureaucrat is going to tell me and my dog where we can and cannot poop!” Carrying around weapons for the primary purpose of hurting people is the least civil of all the liberties. Why would the ACLU feel obligated to defend it?
Mr. Hinkle points out that it is in the Bill of Rights. And it is. Or at least it sure looks like the founders didn’t want the federal government to regulate the states’ abilities to raise a militia to defend themselves. But all that overlooks the obvious. Does something become a sacrosanct right in perpetuity because a lot of people who are now long dead but used to be awfully clever except about things they weren’t clever about decided it was? Does inclusion in the Bill of Rights create some sort of moral authority for unregulated access to firearms?
It doesn’t. If you want unfettered access to assault weapons, make the case for why it’s important. Appealing to the Constitution is a bit like saying, “I don’t know why it’s important. But it must be.”