About that whole Second Amendment thing. Is there anybody out there still:
- doubting that tyranny could happen (indeed, is happening) in America?
- cheerfully trusting a government that seizes reporters’ phone records and uses government agencies to target its political foes?
- doubting that our government might use the information gleaned from universal background checks to harass people?
Second Amendment proponents argue that our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is, among other things, a defense against tyranny.
A number of gun control proponents have just rolled their eyes in response. Tyranny? Here?
Take the President’s remarks at Ohio State’s commencement exercises two weeks ago:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices are also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
He’s caricaturing his political opponents, of course, because straw men are easier to knock down. Only anarchists would say that government is nothing more than some sinister entity at the root of all our problems.
But what’s truly unfortunate here is that the voices the President is dismissing so cavalierly (“tyranny is always just around the corner”) are preeminently those of our founders. From dozens of possibilities, I’ll just remind you of Madison’s pointed remark at the Constitutional Convention in July, 1787:
The truth [is] all men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
And Jefferson’s comment in a letter to Madison:
I hope therefore a bill of rights will be formed to guard the people against the federal government, as they are already guarded against their state governments in most instances.
Even Piers Morgan has seen the light. On his show last week he told Penn Jillette:
I’ve had some of the pro-gun lobbyists on here saying to me, well, the reason we need to be armed is because of tyranny from our own government. And I’ve always laughed at them. And I’ve always said don’t be so ridiculous, your own government won’t turn itself on you.
But actually when you look at this, it’s nothing to do with guns, but actually this is vaguely tyrannical behavior by the American government. I think what the IRS did is bordering on tyrannical behavior. I think what the Department of Justice has done actually, to the AP, is bordering on tyrannical behavior.
You can watch it here:
Vaguely? Bordering on?
Well, still, for Morgan, it’s considerable progress.
And then there’s MSNBC talking head and gun control advocate Joe Scarborough. On last Friday’s Morning Joe, Scarborough commented that, “My argument [for gun control] is less persuasive today because of these [IRS] scandals.”
Since Newtown, Scarborough has advocated for expanding background checks for firearms purchases. But Friday he said:
I have been saying for months now, and everybody knows this, that I believe we need background checks. After Newtown, after Chicago, we need background checks.
My argument has been, don’t worry, background checks aren’t going to lead to a national registry. The government’s never going to create a national registry, right? And there’s even something there that says it’s a felony if you get–I don’t even have to complete my sentence, do I?
My argument is less persuasive today because of these scandals. People say, “Hey, if they do this with the IRS–asking people what books you read–then how can I trust them with information about my Second Amendment rights? This is devastating.
You can watch it here:
Madison, of course, was right. We need to distrust everyone in power. Because, as Lord Acton observed, power corrupts. And, to paraphrase the rest of his aphorism, tremendous power–which is what we’ve given our federal government over the last 150 years–corrupts tremendously.
Which means that we now have a tremendously corrupt government.
So we need the Bill of Rights, now more than ever–yes, even that pesky Second Amendment–to guard the people against their government.
Even Piers Morgan and Joe Scarborough are beginning to get it.
(H/T to Poor Richard’s News)