Anyone who honestly believes that the battle over firearms rights is finished could consider an Op-Ed in the Saturday edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican on-line to be the proverbial splash of cold water, as author Hank Bahnsen insisted that “There is no Second Amendment right to own guns. So intended the founders!”
Bahnsen’s 481-word essay elicited only three reader comments yesterday, but more importantly, illustrated the continued divide between firearms owners and gun prohibitionists. No amount of Supreme Court language in the Heller and McDonald rulings will change things, apparently. While Bahnsen is entitled to his opinion, it is likely to rub a lot of his fellow citizens the wrong way.
It may explain why one California sheriff seemed compelled the other day to explain in a website post that his agency will apparently need to be dragged kicking and screaming, as the Calguns Foundation put it, into compliance with the recent Peruta decision. Calguns quote from that decision, noting, “[T]he Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home,” Peruta v. County of San Diego, 742 F.3d 1144 (9th Cir. 2014) at 1172 (emphasis in original), because “carrying weapons in public for the lawful purpose of self defense is a central component of the right to bear arms” (Id at 1175).”
But Sheriff Stanley Sniff’s public information officer reminded readers that, “Residents are reminded that California CCW issuance is discretionary by the police chief or sheriff, and is based upon both reason of (1) self-defense or self-protection, AND (2) good moral character.” (Emphasis in the original document.)
Question: Who defines “good moral character?” Where in the job description of a county sheriff can that authority be found?
If there is “no Second Amendment right to own guns” and only people of “good moral character” can be allowed to carry firearms with government permission in California, what does that say about where the country is, and where it may be headed? Perhaps one answer could be found over the weekend in a two-part treatise by John Richardson at “No Lawyers, Only Guns and Money.”
Richardson first examined the passage of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure, in Washington earlier this month. In the second installment, he made some predictions about where similar efforts, apparently to be supported by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown For Gun Safety lobbying organization, might pop up next.
One reason Richardson identified some states as ripe for the kind of gun control in I-594 is explained thusly: “The next factor that I thought would have an impact was the proportion of the state’s residents that were actually born there. I call this the ‘Californication’ factor. In other words, people move from California to other states such as Nevada, Oregon, and Washington and bring their California attitudes with them. We see a similar pattern in the East as in-migrants from states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have altered the politics of states like Florida and Maine.”
“I think state natives are less likely to be swayed by Bloomberg’s efforts,” Richardson added. One might call it the “You ain’t from around here” factor and a lot of people who voted for I-594 easily fit into that category.
Richardson’s two-part analysis should be required reading for rights activists everywhere, especially in Oregon and Nevada, and anywhere else with a population of firearms owners that gun prohibitionists believe should be “brought to heel.” This underscores the argument that gun control isn’t about guns, it’s about “control.”
Here’s how Richardson explained it: “The goal of Bloomberg wasn’t universal background checks. It was to kill the gun culture in America by strangling its ability to bring new adults into it. We always say that taking someone shooting is a great way to inoculate them from the claims of the gun prohibitionists. If that is made too hard by the restrictions on transfers in I-594, then we can’t achieve this inoculation.”
This brings the discussion back around to the contention by Santa Fe’s Hank Bahnsen, that the Second Amendment really doesn’t mean what the Supreme Court and so many citizens say it means. The way to destroy a civil right is through erosion, not outright bans. Bloomberg learned that much with the jumbo soda fiasco a couple of years ago when he was still mayor of New York.
If you can’t just ban big cups of soda – which is not mentioned anywhere in the Bill of Rights – then erasing firearms – possession of which is protected by the Second Amendment and a slew of court rulings – is going to take time. The Grand Canyon wasn’t created in a day, and reducing the Bill of Rights to nine amendments can’t be accomplished overnight, though chipping away at it only takes a couple of election nights.
Note: Readers are always encouraged to weigh in with their thoughts (below) in the comments section. But let’s behave ourselves. The following standard will henceforth apply: No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech and no profanity. And stay on topic.