Friday, August 18, 2017

Under the Guise of ‘Gun Control,’ a Call to Trash the First Amendment

Gun violence spurs need to amend Constitution, writes economist/author Alan L. Moss, “a congressional fellow to the late Democratic U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.”

After reciting a litany of statistics on gun-related deaths intended to horrify, Moss calls for the Second Amendment to be revised to allow reasonable gun restrictions. I don’t know that the Second Amendment needs to be revised. There are already plenty of restrictions on gun ownership, such as licensing and permitting.

No one would argue with Moss that guns should be kept out of the hands of “a desperate heroin addict, gang member, terrorist, or mentally deranged individual.” But the “devil is in the details”: How do we define “reasonable?” “Gun control” to the Left is what “Voter ID” was to the racist—a cover for abrogating rights. Just as the Southern racists once used onerous voter ID laws to effectively prevent black Americans from voting, so Leftists view gun control as a means of effectively banning guns through onerous regulations.

That’s not the worst of it. Moss blames the lack of gun control on First Amendment rights:

Second, a new amendment must be established to alter our systems of campaign financing and lobbying. For example, campaign funds could be limited to allocations provided by the federal government; lobbyists could be required to be housed in the government relations departments of individual firms; and influence peddlers could be banned from wandering the halls of government.

Under this Amendment, private citizens would be banned from voluntarily contributing to political campaigns of their choice, but would be forced to fund, through their taxes, political campaigns against their consciences and against their will. He would then overturn the First Amendment guarantee of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What is a lobbyist but a peaceable assembly of the people? What is “influence-peddling” but a petition of the government?

Moss wants to insulate the political class from the people they represent. Apparently, we’re just subjects to be reigned in so as not to bother the people who wield so much law-making power over us. The problem as Moss see it is that the people are too persuasive, so the government must silence them:

[T]he American systems of campaign financing and lobbying on behalf of the National Rifle Association, representing some gun owners and those who profit from gun sales, convince legislators to reject the public outcry for gun control in favor of campaign contributions and other support for election.

This is the same public that elects the legislators that are being convinced. The people have the power to vote these legislators out of office. That they don’t is proof that the “public outcry” to enact the Left’s anti-gun agenda is not so loud, so the Left seeks to silence the opposition. And it’s not just about gun control:

In fact, the U.S. systems of campaign funding and lobbying are embarrassments with which few advanced democracies contend. When I was writing my book, Selling-Out America’s Democracy, I interviewed foreign diplomats who uniformly voiced their amazement at how we allow special interests to distort the policies favored by the great majority of our citizens.

While the absence of gun control is perhaps the most extreme case of a perverted U.S. policy to be set right, reining in lobbyists and campaign financing could correct ill-considered decisions in other high priority areas, including our out-of-date minimum wage, worsening global warming, and exorbitant health care costs.

Maybe the “great majority of our citizens” don’t want the Left’s big government-expanding, including the rights-restricting expansion of political control over our jobs, energy, and healthcare.

Guns and free speech are not analogous. Guns are instruments of physical force so their possession by private citizens must be subject to oversight by the government. But free speech is the instrument of expression. Lobbying, campaign funding, and other efforts to influence legislators, legislation, and election outcomes are forms of expression.

Statists would love to restrict the people’s free speech rights so statist legislators could go on their merry taxing, spending, regulating, and controlling way without having to bother with those pesky constituents. They’d love to smother the dissemination of competing ideas, stifle public debate, frame the public dialogue, and control the process of selecting candidates who challenge the incumbents. Under the guise of ‘gun control,’ Moss calls to trash the First Amendment. We shouldn’t let the statists get away with their sinister efforts.

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2 comments:

Burr Deming said...

An interesting argument cogently made, Michael. I am interested in your choice of these words: "Just as the Southern racists once used onerous voter ID laws to effectively prevent black Americans from voting..."

Why use past tense phraseology?

Michael A. LaFerrara said...

Burr,

I use the past tense because I’m not sure how much of a problem it still is. There may still be cases where it is. But today the issue has become muddled by the Left, which seems to oppose common sense efforts to ensure that only citizens can vote. Every effort to ensure integrity in elections seems to be met with the smear of “voter suppression”. For example, a proposed law in NJ would automatically register people to vote when they apply for new or renewed driver's licenses. To me, it seems like a technical issue. In conditionally vetoing the partisan Democrat bill, Republican Governor Chris Christie called it the "Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act.” But the NJ Star-Ledger brushed off concerns that relying solely on driver's license applications would escalate the opportunity for abuse, throwing in a claim that Republican opposition to the bill stems from a sinister scheme to suppress the votes of “racial minorities, unmarried women, millennials and seculars.” So the Motor Vehicle Commission, an agency equipped to handle drivers licensure, will suddenly become directly responsible for voter registration, because it’s too much of a burden for people who “belong” to these groups to register through normal procedures provided by the Department of State - Division of Elections, the government agency specifically designated with the responsibility to handle elections! (See my post on the issue @ http://principledperspectives.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-vote-get-off-your-butt-and.html. NOTE: Currently, you can fill out a voter registration form at the MVC, which will then forward the form to the Division of Elections.)