Thursday, January 03, 2013

Gun Ownership and People Power

By Daniel Greenfield
January 3, 2012

At a Brady Center event, its Legal Action Project Director asked retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens whether having a right to a cell phone might be a more universal form of self-defense than gun ownership.

“Maybe you have some kind of constitutional right to have a cell phone with a pre-dialed 911 number at your bedside, and that might provide you with a little better protection than a gun, which you’re not used to using,” Justice Stevens mumbled.

Stevens, who often seemed unclear on the difference between a right and an entitlement, had a point. Why bother waiting for the laborious process of using a gun, when you can instantly dial 911 and wait twenty minutes while being murdered for the police to arrive?

There still is no constitutional right to a cell phone, but you’re already paying into a Universal Service Fund that does just that, providing cell phones to any and all, courtesy of Lebanese-Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s company, who, when he isn’t making high interest loans to the New York Times, shovels prepaid government cell phones into the ghetto.

Gun control advocates have been digging away at the 2nd Amendment because gun ownership is an individual right. And they don’t believe in individual rights. Their gospel is group rights. If the 2nd Amendment assigned the right to bear arms to each group by its degree of persecution, liberals would find it much more acceptable no matter what the annual death toll was. An LGBT 2nd Amendment would really float their boat.

Justice Stevens and the Legal Director of the Brady Project were pondering how to make an individual right fair by universalizing it and redistributing it to a group right. Some people have guns and others don’t. But everyone can have a government mandated right to a cell phone… except perhaps the Amish.

If you assume that rights belong to the group, rather than the individual, then pre-dialed cell phones are a better solution than guns. Just push 1 if you’re being murdered, 2 if you’re being raped, 3 if your house is being set on fire and 4 if you just realized that your health plan doesn’t provide abortion coverage on all major legal holidays.

The police may not get there in time, but they will get there to government specifications and will take action in line with municipal, state and federal policies in deference to group rights. Governments can issue a directive for how many arrests of how many people they want to see, based on type of crime and race. And that is the kind of enforcement you will get backed by federal grants to local communities and Department of Justice lawsuits. Whether or not the police officer will be there in ten minutes or twenty, whether he will even take your statement or just doodle something while you talk, depends on Washington D.C.

Group rights are the right to wait in a government line to find out whether your request will be filled or not based on your socioeconomic status, race, gender, transgender, sexual orientation and surfing abilities. And the line, in this case, happens to be the phone line to the 911 system, which will send someone to help you at a rate that depends on all the number juggling involving money, crime statistics and votes.

The 2nd Amendment is a very different creature. The controllers would like to turn it into a group right. Replace the home rifle with an IOU for a cell phone from Carlos Slim that will allow you to dial 911. And they would equally like to turn the 1st Amendment into a right to say the things that are socially beneficial, while outlawing speech that is not socially beneficial.

When rights serve the group, or the idealized arrangement of groups meant to provide the perfect statistical balance between skin colors, genders, lack of genders, and choice of partners, then the individual has no rights except as a member of Team White, Team Black, Team Gay or Team Badly Confused.
A gun is an individual thing. It’s hard for a group to own a gun. You can give Team Gay, Team Union or Team Korean Men in Wheelchairs a cell phone link to a central network of law enforcement support services, but a gun is a thing that an individual buys and learns to use. It is not a network, but an object, its power does not come from pushbutton access to a plea for government aid, but from the skill and courage of the individual. Gun power is merit based.
The left shouts “Power to the People,” but doesn’t truly mean it. It would like to replace Power to the People with Pre-dialed Cell Phones to the People and Lines at Government Offices to the People and Write to Your Local Congressman to the People.
The people aren’t supposed to have guns; they’re supposed to have government on speed dial. The people aren’t supposed to have power; they’re supposed to have a hand out to the government which will decide whether to help them or not based on its own priorities. And if the help doesn’t arrive, then they can shout “Power to the People” outside government offices and demand that the rich people give more money to the government so that it can help them faster.
The Director of the Brady Legal Project asked the retired Supreme Court Justice, “The Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment assures our right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense as you say. This question’s asked: ‘That protects only gun owners. What about those who don’t have guns? Surely they have a right of self-defense. Instead of relying on the 2nd Amendment and dealing with gun laws, wouldn’t it be more rational to rely directly on the right we all have to self-defense?”
Like all gun control proposals, it would be rational. Just as it was rational in the USSR to move all the farmers to collective farms in order to increase wheat production and just as it was rational to bail out the banks and then spend billions more stimulating the economy. Putting all your eggs in one centrally planned basket is rational. It’s also stupid. Rational is not the same thing as right and it’s certainly not the same thing as individual rights.
The Constitution holds to the irrational idea that power should be vested in the individual and that fairness comes from respecting individual rights, rather than relying on government to level all the playing fields and all the heads. It holds to the notion still that individual rights become universalized through individual power rather than through government power.
The Bill of Rights determines that the people shall have power, while the gun controllers determine that the people shall have a place on a government line.
The Constitution determines that the people shall be armed and the gun controllers determine that each man, woman and child shall have the right to spend the last 30 seconds of their life begging the government to save them.
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