WASHINGTON, January 12, 2016 – There is one unbreakable rule in U.S. public policy: on every issue, President Barack Obama is 180 degrees wrong. The proper response to his executive orders threatening gun rights is thus to recognize and uphold a national duty to bear arms. Here’s why.
Obama seethes in anger at a Congress that protects the fundamental Second Amendment and claims that “gun violence” is “one of the greatest threats to public health and to the safety of the American people.” Yet “gun violence” doesn’t exist. It is as much a chimera as “car violence,” “alcohol violence,” “knife violence,” “rock violence,” “power tool violence,” “swimming pool violence,” “doctor violence,” “cigarette violence,” and “medicine violence.”
Forty thousand Americans die in traffic accidents every year, a third of these from drunk driving. In each case, the drunk driver, not the car, caused the fatality. And since Cain smashed Abel’s head with a rock, people have killed with knives, hammers, clubs, fists, ropes, poison, and pillows, yet none of these objects acted independently.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed every year by power tools, physicians, drugs, cigarettes, and swimming pools. But a human act or omission, rather than violence by any inanimate object, caused each death.
Guns are no different. They become deadly only through human action.
So, when people commit crimes using guns, the solution is to deter and punish these criminals. But the Left, unwilling to enforce existing laws, has conjured up the dishonest phrase “gun violence” to shift responsibility away from criminals. For if guns commit “gun violence,” it is guns, rather than criminals, that merit apprehension, confinement, and destruction. That this narrative is false is irrelevant to liberals whose primary objective is banning guns.
This is a travesty. The right to keep and bear arms is, per the Supreme Court, an “ancient and fundamental right” recognized by the Second Amendment to enable Americans to defend themselves, particularly against a tyrannical government. No other tangible object is the subject of such extensive constitutional protection.
Indeed, hundreds of thousands of times a year, guns prevent injury and death. Men closed Auschwitz and opened Southern universities to blacks using guns. Women deter and kill rapists with guns. By Obama’s bizarre logic, these might be labeled acts of “gun peace.” But guns are dumb hunks of metal, no better or worse than the humans using them and the ends to which they are put.
Obama’s “gun violence” executive orders are addressed in detail elsewhere. It suffices to note the most egregious. One modifies federal privacy laws to allow government access to confidential medical records in deciding whether to permit gun sales. Veterans might find post-traumatic stress associated with their service strips them of their gun rights.
Parents will suffer pediatricians authorized to ask their children whether Mommy or Daddy have guns.
Healthcare providers and the Social Security Administration can report the bare fact of gun possession by disabled seniors to the Department of Homeland Security. Individuals whose guns are improperly seized by police will find it harder to compel their return. And mental health is now politicized: outspoken conservatives, registered Republicans, even those who merely challenge the “gun violence narrative” in cyberspace may find themselves branded “crazy” and unfit to possess guns by federal bureaucrats.
That Obama, whose fidelity to the Constitution mirrors Bill Clinton’s fidelity to Hillary, bypassed Congress with unlawful executive orders is no surprise. His attack on the Second Amendment—the “master right” that guarantees the others by enabling American armed resistance to tyranny—is deliberate. Obama’s ultimate goal, and that of his would-be successor Hillary Clinton, is gun confiscation.
Only by making the U.S. a “gun-free zone” can the Constitution be shredded—a precondition for the triumph of the radical progressivism of Obama, Clinton, and their ilk.
Of course, gun-free zones don’t just infringe the Second Amendment. They advertise the availability of defenseless innocents to criminals and terrorists looking to kill quickly and in volume at near-zero risk. Gun-free zones are murder magnets that attract lawless evildoers and stand as monuments to sheepish idiocy.
Opponents of the Obama gun-grab call for businesses and municipalities imposing gun-free zones to guarantee the safety of those entering them. Others would ban gun-free zones under “guns everywhere” legislation some form of which is in place in 28 States that legalizes gun possession in all places.
But these are partial measures. The “Obama 180 Degree Rule” mandates a diametrically opposed policy.
Here it is. Instead of disarming Americans and converting the U.S. into a gun-free zone, let’s require all American adults to be armed. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, but does not compel anyone to do so. Let’s go a step further. Let’s impose a national duty to keep and bear arms. Crazy?
No. This duty is already law in municipalities in Southern, Rocky Mountain, Northeastern states, and elsewhere. Most of these towns lack funds to pay for police officers and require each individual to own an operable firearm as part of his or her responsibility to individual and public safety. Those with mental or physical disabilities, conscientious objectors, convicted felons, and persons too poor to purchase a gun are exempt.
Violations incur only a small civil fine.
And costly threats to public safety aren’t a uniquely U.S. affliction, nor is widespread bearing of arms confined to our shores. The top Swiss military officer recently urged vigilance due to the risk of terrorism and rape posed by Islamist “refugees” violating his country. Despite their neutrality, the Swiss are a heavily-armed people who carry guns openly in public and root firearm ownership in a civic duty to defend their nation and its identity. Not coincidentally, the Swiss have been independent and war-free for centuries.
Advocates of a civic “duty to keep and bear arms” to ensure individual and public safety can cite Supreme Court opinions upholding its wisdom and constitutionality.
In 2005, the Court ruled police have no legal duty to protect and that an individual’s self-defense is his own responsibility. So we’re on our own against bad guys.
And in 2012, the Court allowed Congress to tax those who refuse to buy health insurance because sooner or later everyone needs healthcare and it is unfair for uninsureds to shift the cost of the free care the law mandates they receive onto others. Thus, per ObamaCare, individuals must either purchase insurance or make a “shared responsibility payment” of 2.5% of their incomes. Everyone has a social responsibility to participate, to the extent of their financial ability, in insuring their own health. No one can “free-ride” off others.
In effect, with Obamacare, Congress declared healthcare a public good—meaning it is beneficial to all, no one can be excluded from it, and access by one does not reduce availability to others—while solving the free-rider problem by making the purchase of insurance an individual duty.
So too, then, is public safety a public good. We all need it but can’t know when or where it will be threatened. Military personnel and those who keep and bear arms wherever they go provide public safety against terrorists and criminals while subsidizing those who do not serve and are unarmed. On the theory elaborated by Congress in ObamaCare and blessed by the Court, individuals cannot free ride and must insure their individual and public safety, either through military service, arms-bearing, and/or by making a “shared responsibility payment” based on income.
Indeed, it is unfair for those who perform no military service and bear no arms to shift their safety costs onto others. A 2.5% tax on the incomes of free-riders would induce some military service, convince some Americans to arm themselves, and generate revenue to fund needed military and police services and subsidize firearm and ammunition purchases by arms-bearers. All of these rational responses would enhance individual and public safety.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley and other liberals brand a duty to keep and bear arms unconstitutional and “moronic” because it compels doing something some oppose philosophically. But so does ObamaCare. So too do many of the responsibilities of citizenship impose unwelcome burdens.
By the logic Congress adopted and the Court blessed in mandating individuals purchase health insurance or be taxed as part of their social responsibility, Americans are duty-bound to contribute to individual and public safety through taxes, military service, or the bearing of arms.
Aux armes, citoyens! To arms, citizens! A national “duty to bear arms” protects us and guards against tyranny. And it directly opposes Obama’s recent edicts. That alone guarantees that it’s the right policy for America.