There are many strategies antigun zealots use to undermine the Second Amendment. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
One way is through enactment of Federal and State Statutes. At the moment we have hundreds. The antigun zealots push for more. They try to hoodwink the public. To do so, they bide their time until a calamity occurs. Then they pounce, exploiting personal misfortune shamelessly. The tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut gave the zealots a grand opening. They took it. They attacked gun ownership directly and tried to ban many firearms under the fiction of “assault weapons.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, tried to push through an ambitious assault weapons ban following the Newtown incident. She did this successfully once before. She and her colleagues in the Senate passed the first assault weapons ban, dubbed “AWB,” two decades ago, in 1994. It wasn’t as strong as she wanted. Former Democratic President Clinton signed it. And the Nation bore it for 10 years. Fortunately, the “AWB” had a sunset provision. It expired in 2004. Congress didn’t renew it. Fast-forward 9 years. A lunatic decides to shoot young school children. The incident provided the antigun groups with the ammunition they sought to resurrect the “AWB.” This time Dianne Feinstein pulled out all stops. She wanted a bold “assault weapons” ban. This new bill, modeled on NY SAFE, failed miserably. NY SAFE is a State Statute. New York residents can thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature for it. If Feinstein’s 2013 bill had passed, the Nation would have suffered New York’s fate. Antigun groups learned something from Feinstein’s embarrassing failure. They learned that banning guns outright doesn’t work on the National stage. And most States won’t follow New York’s example. Colorado tried and two Legislators lost their heads over it. So, the antigun crowd tried a different tack: deception and pretense. Don’t go after guns directly. Attack the Second Amendment around the edges.
The tactic now is background checks. This isn’t new. Shortly after signing the assault weapons ban in 1994, President Clinton signed into law another restrictive gun measure: a background checks law. It’s referred to as the “Brady Law.” Despite the hoopla and fanfare, it’s a dud as an anticrime measure. Prosecutions don’t exist. The “Brady Law” is a step toward universal gun registration. That’s its silent but true purpose. On its 20-year anniversary “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,” kicked off its latest campaign: “enhanced” background checks. We discuss this in our March 2nd blog post. Take a look. By seemingly retreating from its goal to ban all guns in this Country, The Brady Campaign hopes to blindside the public. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also calling for background checks. And other antigun groups are following suit.
Antigun zealots use various catchphrases with this new push for background checks. They include: “common-sense gun laws we all can live with,” “reasonable gun regulations,” “a sensible middle ground,” and similar claptrap. As the annual NRA meeting got underway in Indianapolis last week, the antigun group, “Mom’s Demand Action” held their “Stroller Jam” in the City, adding their own slogan to the mix: “it’s time for gun sense in America.” So, we see a new strategy among the antigun zealots. This latest incremental assault on the Second Amendment isn’t direct. The antigun zealots have shied away from talk of gun bans – at least for the moment. They attack the Second Amendment “obliquely” through statutes that thwart gun ownership, but don’t ban guns outright. If successful, the antigun zealots will target guns and gun possession directly. That’s their endgame.
Another way antigun zealots attack our sacred Second Amendment is through the device of international pacts and treaties. Only the U.S. President can use this device but we know President Obama is open to antigun measures. After all, Obama’s an antigun zealot. Last September Secretary of State John Kerry signed, for President Obama, an international arms trade treaty, called the “ATT.” On the surface this Treaty aims to control the multibillion dollar illicit arms trade. But, it also impacts domestic weapons transactions. Apart from the United States, none of the signatory Countries has a Constitution embodying the individual right to keep and bear arms. The Treaty is inconsistent with that right. Proponents of the “ATT” deny this of course. But, the “ATT’s” negative impact on the “right to keep and bear arms” is clear. If I buy an imported gun, I must register it. So, the Treaty trumps the U.S. Constitution. Now Congress hasn’t yet approved the “ATT” and likely won’t. Will Obama enforce the “ATT” anyway? Can he?
There’s been no public debate on the “ATT.” The mainstream media doesn’t talk about it. And it’s troubling that a President may sidestep Congress on critical matters – those that impact our sacred “Bill of Rights.” Consider too: President Obama has other instrumentalities at his disposal to defeat the Second Amendment, including “signing statements” and “executive orders.” These instrumentalities thwart Congress and the People. In fact, Obama has threatened to use executive orders if Congress fails to pass new, restrictive gun laws. This is a naked power grab.
A third way antigun zealots may attack the Second Amendment is the most direct and involves either rewriting the Second Amendment or repealing it outright. Of course, outright repeal won’t happen – at least for now. Outright repeal is a blatant act and would signal the end of the United States as a Republic. Such a move would invite rebellion.
Suppose someone were to redraft the Second Amendment. Consider what this means. Retired United States Supreme Justice John Paul Stevens aims to do just that. In his recently published book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, Justice Stevens, suggests a change. His redraft of the Second Amendment is this: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.” His rewrite turns the Second Amendment on its head. The fundamental “right of the individual to keep and bear arms,” as embodied in the independent clause of the original, is lost. In Stevens’ proposed redraft of the Second Amendment, emphasis is on ‘militia.’ How he defines the word is anyone’s guess. Does ‘militia’ mean ‘national guard?’ Well, the U.S. President can call a State’s National Guard into federal service. The Second Amendment in its original form is a check on the Federal Government’s power. The early idea of ‘militia’ and the modern notion of ‘National Guard’ aren’t the same. Stevens’ proposed revision destroys the Second Amendment right as our Founders imagined.
Suppose ‘militia’ refers to a State’s police forces. Well, a State may exercise its police powers. That’s an inherent State privilege. So, Stevens’ redraft adds nothing to a State’s exercise of its own police powers. But on another interpretation Stevens’ redraft destroys a State’s police powers if such power draws from the Federal Government. If so, police powers do not rest in the States. They rest solely in the Federal Government.
But, on any interpretation of Stevens’ redraft “the right to keep and bear arms” is no longer a right of the “People.” That point’s clear. Also, Stevens’ proposed redraft of the Second Amendment sets the foundation for a conflict between Government and the “People.” On balance Stevens’ proposed redraft of the Second Amendment is worse than outright repeal, disastrous as outright repeal is.
We can only ponder. What’s Stevens’ agenda? Who’s he serving? But this we know. Stevens cares little for our most sacred Right! His like-minded fellow travelers would agree with him on that.Copyright © 2014 Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) and Roger J Katz (Towne Criour) All Rights Reserved.