Is Gun Ownership a Right?

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Shall Not Be Infringed

From Charles C. W. Cooke:

Americans worried about the prospect of door-to-door firearm searches, especially in light of Chuck Schumer’s terrible new background-check legislation, should familiarize themselves with the case of Shawn Moore and his eleven-year-old son — and take note of the calm way in which he dealt with the violation of his privacy. On The Blaze, Moore and his lawyer, the latest victims of the hysteria that has followed the abomination at Newtown, claim that:

  • NJ’s Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) came to his home, accompanied by police officers. They claimed to be responding to a call about a photo of a young boy holding a firearm.
  • Without a search warrant, DYFS demanded entry into Moore’s home and access to all of his firearms. Moore was not initially there, but his wife called him.
  • With his lawyer listening to the exchange on the phone with police and DFYS, Moore denied entry to his home and access to his safe where he stores his guns.
  • When Moore requested the name of the DFYS representative, she refused to give it to him.
  • After threatening to “take my kids,” the police and Family Services worker left — “empty handed and seeing nothing.”
  • The DYFS worker repeatedly demanded access to the house and for Moore to open his safe where the firearms were stored. She said that the guns should be catalogued and checked to make certain they were “properly registered.” (NJ does not require registration, it is voluntary.)
  • The four police officers acted professionally, they were there at the request of DYFS.
  • The worker refused to identify herself. Mr. Moore demanded that she giver her name. She refused and ran away.
  • As of Tuesday morning, Mr. Nappen believes that DYFS is still pushing for an inspection, “which is not happening.”

Why? Because Mr. Moore put a picture of his son holding a gun on Facebook.

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Confidence Man-in-Chief

confidence man

n 1: a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim

From David Mamet:

The Founding Fathers, far from being ideologues, were not even politicians. They were an assortment of businessmen, writers, teachers, planters; men, in short, who knew something of the world, which is to say, of Human Nature. Their struggle to draft a set of rules acceptable to each other was based on the assumption that we human beings, in the mass, are no damned good—that we are biddable, easily confused, and that we may easily be motivated by a Politician, which is to say, a huckster, mounting a soapbox and inflaming our passions.

The Constitution’s drafters did not require a wag to teach them that power corrupts: they had experienced it in the person of King George. The American secession was announced by reference to his abuses of power: “He has obstructed the administration of Justice … he has made Judges dependant on his will alone … He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws … He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass out people and to eat out their substance … imposed taxes upon us without our consent… [He has] fundamentally altered the forms of our government.”

This is a chillingly familiar set of grievances; and its recrudescence was foreseen by the Founders. They realized that King George was not an individual case, but the inevitable outcome of unfettered power; that any person or group with the power to tax, to form laws, and to enforce them by arms will default to dictatorship, absent the constant unflagging scrutiny of the governed, and their severe untempered insistence upon compliance with law.

The Founders recognized that Government is quite literally a necessary evil, that there must be opposition, between its various branches, and between political parties, for these are the only ways to temper the individual’s greed for power and the electorates’ desires for peace by submission to coercion or blandishment.

Healthy government, as that based upon our Constitution, is strife. It awakens anxiety, passion, fervor, and, indeed, hatred and chicanery, both in pursuit of private gain and of public good. Those who promise to relieve us of the burden through their personal or ideological excellence, those who claim to hold the Magic Beans, are simply confidence men. Their emergence is inevitable, and our individual opposition to and rejection of them, as they emerge, must be blunt and sure; if they are arrogant, willful, duplicitous, or simply wrong, they must be replaced, else they will consolidate power, and use the treasury to buy votes, and deprive us of our liberties. It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government.

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The Wisdom of Fools

From Charles C. W. Cooke:

Some ugly news out of Pennsylvania yesterday, in which state a five-year-old girl was suspended from school for talking about a bubble gun that she had left at home, a reference that was interpreted by the school as a “terrorist threat.” Per ABC:

Her weapon of choice? A small, Hello Kitty automatic bubble blower.

The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators’ attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.

“I think people know how harmless a bubble is. It doesn’t hurt,” said Robin Ficker, an attorney for the girl’s family. According to Ficker, the girl, whose identity has not been released, didn’t even have the bubble gun toy with her at school.

The kindergartner was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation during her 10-day suspension, which was later reduced to two days. The evaluation deemed the girl normal and not a threat to others, Ficker said.

The suspension comes one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which has created a heightened sense of alert at schools across the country.

Have we all run mad? It certainly looks that way. Sandy Hook has not just created a “heightened sense of alert,” but has also ushered in a lot of hysterical nonsense and mawkish self-indulgence. Children so much as pointing their fingers at one another are being treated as criminals. In Maryland, CBS reports:

There’s controversy at a Talbot County school after two 6-year-old boys were suspended while playing cops and robbers during recess and using their fingers to make an imaginary gun.

“It’s ridiculous,” said parent Julia Merchant.

This is the second time a Maryland child has been suspended for such play. Earlier this month, 6-year-old Rodney Lynch was suspended from his Montgomery County school after pretending to fire an imaginary gun more than once.

“Just pointing your fingers like this and then she did the pow sound and I just went like that and then I got sent to the office again,” Lynch said.

The school reversed its decision after Rodney’s parents appealed.

Amid all the asinine calls to “do something for the children,” it would be nice if a few adults took the reins. What happened at Sandy Hook was unspeakably awful, but it is no reason for us to turn ourselves into blithering fools. Or is it? New York’s State Assembly isn’t so sure. Last week, it rushed through an astonishingly rash piece of legislation that, among other things, has put mental-health professionals in a tough spot, called into question the right of cops to carry their duty weapons, and almost certainly violated the Constitution as defined in D.C. v. Heller. Not to be outdone, the president of the United States stood in front of the world’s cameras and read out letters written by children, praising their great wisdom and making them the centerpiece of his push for new legislation. He was serious.

It is not beyond the wit of man to recognize that children’s letters could be put to propaganda use in support of almost any policy position you can imagine. How about a letter from a child that said, “Dear Mr. President. New York State has just made my Daddy’s gun illegal. We live in an area with a lot of bad men. I am really scared at night. Please don’t take away Daddy’s gun”? Or: “Dear Mr. President, I find it really gross when men kiss each other. I don’t like seeing it because it is icky. Please make it illegal, Mr. President. Thank you.” Or, perhaps: “I love everyone in the world, Mr. President. Uncle James tells me that in Pakistan little girls of my age are being killed by flying death robots. Uncle James says that you have the power to stop it. Please stop little girls in Pakistan being killed by flying death robots Mr. President!” And so on and so forth. As Brendan O’Neill pointed out in the Telegraph,

The use of children to front a potentially big overhaul of Americans’ constitutional rights is really about silencing dissent, exploiting the wide-eyed innocence of worried children to try to shame those adults who still dare to say: “But what about my constitutional rights?” Indeed, it is normally only the most censorious, authoritarian regimes or groups that use children to front or follow through political campaigns. Who can forget the Child Spies in George Orwell’s 1984, those “ungovernable little savages” whose simplistic moralism made them the perfect monitors of adult behaviour? Today, all sorts of fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-masses campaigns – from Green efforts to guilt-trip us over our carbon use to Mary Whitehouse-style demands to censor wicked art – exploit or evoke children to get their message across. And that message is: “It doesn’t matter what you adults believe or want or desire – the feelings of children are way more important.”

That America has not rejected this trick outright and demanded to be treated with a little more respect by its employees in the government is not a good sign. Likewise, that the teachers responsible for suspending or punishing children for pointing imaginary guns at each other or for talking about Hello Kitty bubble blowers have not resigned or been fired in disgrace is an indication that our common sense is being overridden by our emotions. (“If it saves just one teacher . . .”). After all, if the children are so wise, then perhaps they should be running the schools instead. Raise your hand if you agree . . .

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Unalienable

While listening to people on radio discuss the subject of gun control, I have heard more than a few of them say that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms. It does no such thing.

As Charles C. W. Cooke wrote:

American liberties, including the right to bear arms, pre-exist the federal government, and are defined and protected in the same document from which the state derives its authority and its structure. In a free republic, the people cannot be disarmed by the government, for they are its employers, and they did not give up their individual rights when they consented to its creation. There is no clause in our charters of liberty that allows for the people to be deprived of their freedom if and when a few individuals abuse theirs.

The 2nd Amendment does not give us the right to keep and bear arms. It merely makes explicit the fact that the government does not have the power to infringe on that already existing right.

More Guns, Fewer Murders

From John R. Lott, Jr.:

In the wake of the recent shootings, the liberal media have concluded we need more gun control. President Obama just signed 23 executive actions related to guns, and promises to do more later.

To them the logic seems obvious, that more guns mean more deaths, suicides, and accidents.

And the U.S. supposedly has very high murder rates, they argue, because our nation is teeming with guns. So with stricter gun control, we would suffer fewer murders and less violence.

As Charles Blow recently claimed in the New York Times: “America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita …”

Or as the New York Times earlier this month put forward the notion: “Generally, if you live in a civilized society, more guns mean more death.” The claim is all over the news from CNN to various “Fact Check” articles.

It would be nice if things were that simple. The evidence — and there is plenty of it — points to the very opposite, that cutting access to guns mainly disarms law-abiding citizens, making criminals’ lives easier. Guns let potential victims defend themselves when the police aren’t there.

First, let’s just be clear that lots of nations, including “civilized” ones, suffer from both higher overall murder and gun murder rates. Indeed, we are very far from the top.

In 2011, the U.S. murder rate was 4.7 per 100,000 people, the gun murder rate was 3.1.

Much of Eastern Europe; most of Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa; all but one South American nation; and all of Central America and Mexico suffer even higher murder rates than we do. For example, despite very strict gun control, Russia’s and Brazil’s homicide rates over the last decade averaged about four to five times higher than ours.

Indeed, if you are going to look across all nations and not just a select few, what you find is that the nations with the strictest gun control tend to have higher murder rates.

The New York Times and others have made much from comparing some arbitrarily defined group of “civilized” nations.

But even with the very questionable data on gun ownership that the Times prefers to use from the Small Arms Survey, the results do not imply the lesson that gun control advocates think they do for the U.S.

Gun ownership and annual homicide rates for developed countries (excluding U.S.)

Gun ownership and annual homicide rates for developed countries (excluding U.S.)

If you graph (see above) their measure of gun ownership with homicide rates, higher gun ownership means fewer deaths.

A similar pattern holds for all countries as well.

How is this possible?

Many liberals conveniently focus on a few low-murder-rate countries such as England.

Even worse, they ignore that the countries they idolize enjoyed even lower murder rates before they banned guns.

The seemingly most obvious way to stop criminals from getting guns is simply to ban them.

So what happened in the countries that banned either handguns or all guns?

It did not go well: In every single place that we have data for, murder rates went up. Chicago and D.C. provided spectacular failures within the U.S.

But this has been true worldwide. The U.K., Ireland and Jamaica, despite being island nations that can’t blame a neighbor for supplying guns, have suffered more murders after gun control was passed.

So what has happened when Americans have been allowed access to guns? Consider a simple fact. Concealed handgun permits and gun sales have been soaring over the last four years, as regular people have worried that Obama would push through gun control. Yet, murders and violent crime have been falling.

That isn’t just a recent phenomenon. If you look at the U.S. over the last few decades, even after accounting for other factors, the states that have had the biggest increases in concealed handgun permits and gun ownership have seen the biggest drops in murder and violent crime rates.

Gun control just does not work. Indeed, it makes things worse.

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