Monday, July 27, 2009

Arm the Senate

E.J. Dionne wonders why the senators who are so earnest about supporting the Second Amendment don’t live up to their own rhetoric?

Congress seems to think that gun restrictions are for wimps. It voted this year to allow people to bring their weapons into national parks, and pro-gun legislators have pushed for the right to carry in taverns, colleges and workplaces. Shouldn’t Congress set an example in its own workplace?

So why not let Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) pack the weapon of his choice on the Senate floor? Thune is the author of an amendment that would have allowed gun owners who had valid permits to carry concealed weapons into any state, even states with more restrictive gun laws. The amendment got 58 votes last week, two short of the 60 it needed to pass.

Judging by what Thune said in defense of his amendment, he’d clearly feel safer if everyone in the Capitol could carry a gun.

“Law-abiding individuals have the right to self-defense, especially because the Supreme Court has consistently found that police have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from other individuals,” he said. I guess that Thune doesn’t think those guards and the Capitol Police have any obligation to protect him.

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Don’t think this column is offered lightly. I want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA’s servants in Congress don’t take their arguments seriously enough to apply them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country.

I think he has a very good point there. After all, the NRA and the pro-firearms legislators have lived long enough by the bumper-sticker mentality that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws, etc., and that any attempt to restrict the Second Amendment is a sure path to dictatorship and President Obama’s evil plan to take away your guns and drink your milkshake. Would that they were such strict constructionists about the more — to them — inconvenient amendments in the Bill of Rights such as the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth. But hey, when you can make a ton of money fund-raising by exploiting the fear and gullibility of your base, what does a little thing like hypocrisy matter?

As I’ve discussed before, I don’t have a problem with people owning guns or the Second Amendment. They’re not in themselves the problem. It’s the people who use both of them as weapons against political opponents without thinking things through to their logical conclusion or applying common sense to the regulation of them as allowed by the Constitution. After all, there have been plenty of restrictions and limits placed on our rights within reason — for instance, no one in their right mind would advocate that the sale and distribution of child pornography is a violation of the First Amendment — and yet the Republic still stands. And as one of my commenters noted on that earlier post, many states and municipalities have determined that driving a car while holding a cell phone to your ear constitutes a danger to yourself and others, while at the same time they go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that you can own and carry a device whose sole design criteria was to kill people. It just defies common sense. But when you’re talking about guns, we move into a discussion with all sorts of Freudian dimensions and that pretty much rules out common sense.

Of course the Capitol security monitors and metal detectors will never be removed; even the most staunch defender of the Second Amendment would say that they are there to keep out the “crazies.” Hmm. Based on what Sen. Thune proposed, it’s too late.