In this day and age, it’s odd to see someone opposing a plan their ideological brethren have fully embraced. It’s actually kind of refreshing to see someone do just that. After all, one’s ideas of right and wrong shouldn’t depend on who is calling the shots.
That’s just what happened with The Daily Beast contributor Cathy Gellis in a column warning her ideological cousins not to support the plan to deny people on the terror watch list from purchasing guns.
Because what this proposal calls for is the government using the list as a basis to deny the people on it a right to which they were otherwise entitled. Now, maybe the modern interpretation of the right to bear arms has grown out of proportion from anything the Founders could possibly have intended, and maybe how we understand the scope of that right could use some adjustment. Addressing this question could potentially be a good place for gun control advocates to devote their efforts.
But based on the plain text of the Second Amendment and subsequent jurisprudence it is clear that some right is in there somewhere, and what this proposal calls for is for the government to arbitrarily and un-transparently deny this right to certain people without any sort of the due process ordinarily required. And that’s a problem.
Normally we do not let the government strip people of their rights without demonstrating why they deserve to be deprived of them. Here, though, we would be removing that safety check. With this proposal we would be authorizing the government to act capriciously and unaccountably for any reason, including—and this point cannot be emphasized enough—bad reasons or no reasons at all, and against anyone, including—and this point cannot be emphasized enough, either—people just like you. There would also be no reason why, if the government could take away this right this way today, it couldn’t take away other rights you depend on having tomorrow the same way.
Gellis is right.
While one may disagree with her about whether the Second Amendment is open for interpretation or that it’s progressed beyond what the Founders intended, she’s absolutely correct that it is a right. She’s also correct that no one should be denied the ability to exercise that right without a compelling reason to do so. In other words, due process.
Here’s a good rule to go by in times like these. Would you trust your ideological opposite with this power? In this case, the power is the ability to deny rights to people who appear on a list compiled by bureaucrats. If the answer is “no,” then maybe you shouldn’t seek this power in the first place. After all, no one party will always be in power, so your ideological enemies will have that power at some point.
Unfortunately, politicians are rarely so farsighted that they see it. Ever.
What is your opinion? Tell us what you think in the comments.