Monday, December 07, 2015

Why the Gun Control Push Is Futile

From The American Interest:

Another mass shooting, another round of liberal venom hurled at people who oppose further gun control measures. In the wake of the slaughter in San Bernardino, the charges were particularly shrill. “Dear ‘thoughts and prayers’ people: Please shut up and slink away. You are part of the problem, and everybody knows it,” said one liberal Washington Post columnist, in a representative tweet.

Most gun control advocates know that the push for federal gun laws is futile. Public support for gun rights is near historical highs, the structure of the U.S. Senate favors pro-gun forces, and—as many observers pointed out at the time—if the tragedy at Sandy Hook couldn’t get gun legislation through the Congress, nothing can, at least for the foreseeable future. But liberal decision to make the San Bernardino massacre a story about gun control is more than futile—it is fundamentally disconnected from the role the Second Amendment has played in American political thought, and therefore might be even less effective than past efforts.

There is of course wide disagreement about the proper scope of the Second Amendment in the 21st century. But there is no doubt that the chief historical purpose was to ensure that the civilian population had a means of protecting its political liberty at home. Since the founding, the idea that the citizenry should be able to provide for the common defense against “foreign invasions” and “domestic insurrections” (to use Supreme Court Joseph Story’s words from his 1833 commentaries) has provided the foundation of Americans’ enduring support for gun rights. Today, almost two-thirds of Americans see an armed citizenry as a protection against tyranny. The idea of citizens safeguarding their freedom with their own arms is hardwired into America’s Jacksonian character.

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