Monday, December 3, 2007

New York Times is Anti-Civil Rights!

Now that the Supreme Court is going to hear the DC gun ban case, the anti-civil rights crowd has worked itself up into a lather about the potential implications of the Court ruling in favor of "inalienable rights" The New York Times has of course entered the fray on the side of gun control, using all of the standard distortions. They predict “violent consequences” if the ban is overturned, and decry the “radical” ruling that overturned the ban to begin with. They also contend “To get past the first limiting clauses of the Second Amendment to find an unalienable individual right to bear arms seems to require creative editing.” I guess they haven’t read anything by Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Jay, or Adams.

I wrote an extensive response to their letter – which won’t be published as plebs like you and me get precious few words to point out their errors. Here is the full text of my letter for your enjoyment:

I read with no small amount of dismay your recent editorial entitled “The Court and the Second Amendment”. My discomfort stems not only from the sheer volume of factual errors and incorrect assumptions passed on to your readership as facts, but the underlying thesis that gun control laws have improved public safety and that the basic Civil Rights affirmed by our Constitution are somehow “out of date”.

First, there is no hard data to show that gun bans have improved public safety one whit. In fact, part of the plaintiff’s case in the DC Gun Ban case was data clearly showing the opposite. Murder and violent crime have increased, not decreased in the years since the ban was enacted.

More importantly, I fail to understand how it is “radical” to interpret the Constitution the way the Framers clearly intended it to be read. The Bill of Rights contains the phrase “the Right of the People… shall not be infringed” several times. In each and every occasion the Framers were referring to what they saw as an inalienable Right of the People. The concept of inalienable rights forms the legal cornerstone of our nation. I’ll grant you that at the time it was a “radical” notion – a notion that government somehow should be limited, a notion that human rights weren’t there to be bestowed or revoked by the whim of an allegedly higher political power. Note how our Constitution forbids the government from “infringing” on our rights rather than granting them. Even if someone repeals the Bill of Rights, the inalienable human rights enumerated therein do not vanish.

Your editorial seems to ignore this fact, and espouses a position in which one can change the language of the Bill of Rights and invalidate the underlying rights. If such a premise is true, then none of our rights are safe. Freedom of speech, religion, and assembly can also be attacked effectively on similar grounds. I’ll grant you a lot has changed since the late 1700’s, but a lot hasn’t changed. Human nature hasn’t changed. The corrupting nature of power hasn’t changed. The Second Amendment was put in place to be the ultimate check and balance against a strong Federal Government with a standing army at its disposal run amok. Regardless of the size of a regular army, it was reasoned it couldn’t stand against an armed populace. However, a disarmed populace is helpless in the face of such a force. The Framers knew this first hand based on their experience with the monarchies of Europe. We see it today in totalitarian states across the globe. Remember Tiananmen Square? How’s that for a dose of “modern day reality”?

Rather than dealing with partisan politics, the Supreme Court should take this opportunity to re-affirm the basic human rights the Framers in their wisdom saw fit to protect from the short-sighted actions of politicians and demagogues. I find it tragic that the largest paper in the same state of the Union that originally saw the publication of The Federalist has wandered so far away from that vision and instead advocates the dismantling of the basic rights and freedoms that form the cornerstone of our Republic.

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