How serious is the threat to the 2nd Amendment?
Here is something you can take to the bank: Any genuine statist is going to be opposed to gun ownership by civilians.
Here, we do not mean accidental statists, like many of the rank-and-file of the Democrats—compassionate, decent people who have somehow swallowed the notion that the Democratic Party’s policies are compassionate and decent. No, here we mean genuine, avowed, ideological statists. People whose answer to every social question is, “Government can fix that. Government should do more. Government must be larger, more powerful, more centralized, and exercise more force and control over people’s lives” (for their own good, naturally). Barack Obama, for example.
Anyone who falls into that category is almost certainly also going to fall into the category of people who would prefer if civilians were disarmed. It does not matter what they say—politicians don’t normally openly diss amendments in the Bill of Rights, and you won’t hear Obama or anyone like him coming out and openly opposing 2nd Amendment rights. Instead, they will do what they’ve been doing for a century—attempt to erode those rights piecemeal, with individual pieces of legislation.
Right now, there is great consternation among those who support the 2nd Amendment and the civilian right to own guns. There is fear of everything from more piecemeal legislation (like another reduction in magazine capacity) to bans of classes of weapons to restrictions on ammunition purchases to outright confiscation of weapons. This is driving a massive increase in sales. Lines to get into gun shows are so long, they look like lines to get into rock concerts. Scores of classes of guns are simply out of stock. Shelves of ammunition have been picked clean. Whatever the actual threat, people are worried.
The question of how serious the threat is has to be viewed using the following formula: what can gun-banning statists actually get away with? That is the question. If they can get away with piecemeal legislation, that is what we will get. If they can get away with more (or think they can) they will certainly attempt it.
The federal government is not solely in the Democrats’ hands. The Republicans hold the House. So, unless a significant number of Republicans were to break ranks (a disastrous move for the entire party, were it to occur), major legislation probably won’t make it through the legislative branch. That does not mean that an attempt will not be made, but sweeping legislation might have trouble actually becoming law . . . at least through the legislative branch.
As has now become widely reported, there exists a threat that Barack Obama may try to restrict gun ownership via executive order. We know that he has been more than willing to do end-runs around Congress in the past, when he is unable to get his way through legitimate legislative channels. It would not be in the least surprising if he were to make a similar attempt again with guns.
This, in turn, points up the dichotomy between the states and the federal government. What the states can get away with varies widely. Legislatures in New York, California, and Illinois will be able to pass more restrictive gun laws than legislatures in Wyoming, Utah, or Arizona. Attempts are already in the works.
Gun owners almost certainly face at least some erosion of their rights in the coming weeks and months, certainly in some states, and possibly nationwide.
But fears of what might happen go way beyond piecemeal erosion. Talk of confiscation is on everyone’s lips. Walk into any gun store right now and just stand and listen to the conversations. In previous years, you would, of course, hear talk of rights and the 2nd Amendment, but the discussion now has gone beyond the typical. People are scared. People are concerned. People are expecting the worst.
What gun owners fear most may, or may not, come to pass. But if it does not, that does not mean the fears were unfounded. There is a power elite that would prefer to see citizens unarmed. They will do whatever they can get away with to move that ball down field.
Recently, we have seen statements made by ex military, law enforcement, and legislatures that draw a line in the sand on the subject: If the federal government exceeds its authority, they say, it should expect some resistance. It’s a shame that is appears to have come to this, but increasing numbers of local citizens and elected officials are concerned enough to make public statements to that effect.
Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.