Senator Feinstein’s Gun Control Alchemy

The title of an article by Professor Nick Johnson:

A friend said to me, “Well [a ban] couldn’t hurt”.  And this actually advances the point. First, it actually might hurt. But that hurt is remote from what we are feeling now.  It is a bundle of concerns about stormy days of public unrest; people on the margin who can operate a carbine, but not a shotgun or a handgun; civic militia values; and whether the legislation will just drive millions of the guns into the black market or provoke militant resistance.  For many people, those concerns do not fit on the same table with the pain of Sandy Hook.

More important for now is that Feinstein’s proposal marks point of profound disagreement.  Surely most gun owners, but perhaps many others will acknowledge that when seconds count, government is minutes away.  This means that in those critical moments when violence sparks, you are on your own.

RTWT. I think more importantly, many people buy ARs not for the moment when police are only minutes away when seconds count, but for situations where hours count, and police are days away at best. Such is a situation following a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster. It can often be the situation in times of civil unrest. It can certainly be the case in the event government turns criminal altogether. Help for the Jews of Europe in 1939 was years away. I will return to the famous quote from founder Tench Coxe, a delegate from Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress, writing in the Pennsylvania Gazette in February of 1788:

Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people.

I think the great anxiety faced by many of us is that we fear we are raising whole generations of Americans who have completely lost touch with what it means to be an American, who have no understanding of where we came from, or where we’re going. We are concerned we are losing the country to these people.

15 thoughts on “Senator Feinstein’s Gun Control Alchemy”

  1. I can’t help but grin over, that today “Pennsylvania Gazette” is the name of my alumni magazine, at the University of Pennsylvania. Whenever I have sent in a pro-gun alumni letter (e.g., suggesting that frequent murders of students on their urban campus might be reduced by permitting licensed students to carry on campus) they have positioned those letters in the spaces usually reserved for alumni writing in about UFO encroachments.

    I don’t think Tench Coaxes quote would fare so well, in the Pennsylvania Gazette today. :-)

  2. We are concerned we are losing the country to these people.

    If we are, perhaps you should reconsider your antipathy towards political social conservatism, at least unless you can demonstrate everything they’re trying for is useless, even as a path towards stuff that counts?

    I mean, you know we’re in bad shape when even the infanticide that’s labeled “partial birth abortion” is off the table and fully supported by a president who got reelected. The idea that life is sacred, that the pre-Christian (adopted from the Jews) widespread use of infanticide is fundamentally wrong, is a value judgement, and pretty much dependent on revelation, not rationalization. Which makes things philosophically sticky for a raised Catholic agnostic like myself….

    1. I don’t think the morality of abortion is as clear and black and white as many people on both sides of the debate consider it to be. I’m inclined to think a viable fetus is entitled to full legal protections, but in earlier pregnancies, I think the rights of the mother trump the embryo/zygote/fetus. I also don’t think where one stands on the abortion issue says a whole lot about where you stand on the founding principles of this country.

      1. Thing is, if the anti-gunners took up the pro-life stance and were anywhere near as vocal about it as they were about disarming people defending life they would have some semblance of principles.

        There are thousands of deaths each day of kids much younger than elementary age and we don’t hear so much as a peep out of the same people that want to save us from ourselves.

    2. “perhaps you should reconsider your antipathy towards political social conservatism. . .”

      I don’t know how historically accurate it is, but I’ve heard that in Germany in the early 1930s there was a political cliche’ that went, approximately, “We’ll let the Nazis handle the communists, and then we’ll be able to handle the Nazis.” Everyone who said that was wrong.

      There are many of us who don’t see the problem as being “the liberals,” but rather, “the authoritarians,” of all persuasions; and we see social conservatives as being first and last authoritarians. I for one have no confidence at all that gun rights would last so much as a month longer following a complete social conservative victory, than they would following a complete liberal victory. Gun rights would be rethought the first time an anti-abortionist raid or a crackdown on a sodomite club was met with gunfire. From that day on only “morally upright” people would be permitted to have guns, and the downhill spiral would progress from there.

      1. Whoa … ignoring the Goodwin law bit, can you claim there’s even the slightest chance of such dystopia coming to pass in the foreseeable future? I’m talking about returning to a better balance, e.g. divorce reforms back to things we know work, not something out of The Handmaid’s Tale (another thing I use to point out that it’s best not to let yourself get disarmed).

        1. With regard to Godwin’s law, I see reference to the left as “communists” accepted (on the right) as normal and reasonable discourse all the time; I don’t think it is any more (or less) hyperbole to make similar reference to the other end of the spectrum. Call it hyperbole if you want to; I just call it an apt analogy.

          Of course, I am no more obligated to reject any specific idea coming from a social conservative source, than I am obligated to reject an idea that is labeled “leftist” by its opponents. Your thoughts about divorce reform may be quite sound; I don’t know. But I need to observe that what people do about their marriage relationships in fact have relatively little to do with law. E.g., I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Irish divorce” from the last century. Marriages terminated even in places and times when it was illegal to do so. And the point is, people who believe the power of law and The State can meaningfully modify what people do, in a positive way, tend to be authoritarians.

  3. “I think the great anxiety faced by many of us is that we fear we are raising whole generations of Americans who have completely lost touch with what it means to be an American, who have no understanding of where we came from, or where we’re going. We are concerned we are losing the country to these people.”

    Wow. That was well said! As a late Gen-Xer, I couldn’t agree more.

    Thanks for linking to Professor Johnson, too. He’s fantastic.

  4. In Bhengazi when seconds counted the .Gov was hours and hours and hours away, and then lied about it.

    When a Civilization descends to the level where the delicate Haute couture fainting-flower gang rules, and they find it distasteful and tawdry to do the basic things that are necessary for a Civilization to continue to exist – it is doomed.

  5. In the last four years faith in government seems to have tumbled badly, and with good reason. The “fiscal cliff” follies and failure of the Senate to issue a budget, fulfill basic responsibilities, are signposts. That the Congress and other bodies make law and exempt themselves in fact and reality is beginning to catch up with people.

    Now the solons offer up bills to take away our effective means of self-defense, and promise to protect us. Clearly they can’t, even if they really cared to. The rush to pass law is to avoid having people start thinking too hard.

    For people like Carolyn McCarthy, nothing has changed in her goals or ideals except that she has new blood to dance in.

    I think it is up to us to be the adults, and dissect silliness and deception by the political class as loudly as possible. Making threats or talking about civil war are not winning arguments.

    1. Making threats or talking about civil war are not winning arguments.

      Perhaps not, but they are morally necessary before we get dragged into one. Fair warning and all that, plus they’ve got to have some deterrent value.

      Like it or not, whether we (e.g. you and/or I) participate or not, if the government gets repressive enough one will happen. And WRT to our “participation”, to use the misattributed Trotsky quote, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” You, or very likely some of the people reading this comment thread, might find themselves “participating” by being disappeared.

  6. I had someone seriously suggest in a discussion on the topic that repeaters of any kind be banned for private possession and that single-shot firearms could be used as effective self defense by deterrent value.

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