Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday night, June 2, to call for action in the wake of tragedy. He begged Congress to pass his gun control wish list once again after describing the horror of the aftermath of recent mass murders. But the president’s motives are about as honest as his respect for the right to keep and bear arms. Often, he claims to honor that right, only to then immediately propose gross infringements upon it. And, aside from the specifics of the tragedy used as a peg for timeliness, this speech was no different from any other. Biden pays lip service to the Second Amendment even while attempting to destroy it.
What action does the commander-in-chief urge from Congress? First and foremost, an “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazine ban. Should that fail, he’ll settle for raising the age to buy what he calls assault weapons from 18 to 21, universal background checks, a nationwide red flag law, requiring all firearms to be locked away when not on the person, codifying a ban on so-called ghost guns without serial numbers, and – last but certainly not least – repealing the nonexistent immunity from liability of the firearm manufacturers.
To the longtime readers of Liberty Nation, the list strikes a familiar chord. That’s because this is none other than a reintroduction of what we call Biden’s War on Guns in the wake of tragedies he hopes to exploit to guilt both politicians and voters into acquiescing to his antigun agenda.
Background checks haven’t stopped criminals from acquiring guns yet, and they won’t even if Congress “strengthens” them – and that’s simply the practical consideration of whether they would work with no thought to whether they should. The same goes for prohibitions on home gunsmithing, which is essentially what a “ghost gun” ban is. Safe storage of firearms when not in use, of course, is a wise idea – but mandating certain storage requirements simply raises the buy-in both for those hoping to exercise the right to keep and bear arms and those who sell them. Then, of course, there’s the imagined immunity from liability for firearm manufacturers. Big Pharma is the only industry with an actual legal protection against being held accountable for its mistakes. Don’t let Biden and the Democrats fool you; they want to sue gun manufacturers for people misusing their products. Imagine Craftsman being held liable when a murderer stabs his victims to death with a screwdriver.
It’s a Free Country … Or Is It?
“The Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute,” the president claimed once again. “It was Justice Scalia who wrote, and I quote: ‘like most rights, the Second Amendment by the – the rights granted by the Second Amendment are not unlimited.’”
The line Biden butchered comes from the late Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the Supreme Court ruling for District of Columbia v. Heller. A less mangled and somewhat longer version reads:
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
This disclaimer, if you will, follows a declaration that the Second Amendment protects the “individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” Scalia went on to explain that the amendment exists because of the Antifederalist fear “that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable the citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule.” The safeguard against that, according to the Founders and to the Supreme Court majority opinion in DC v. Heller as authored by Justice Scalia, was to deny Congress the power to “abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.”
Not only does the section Biden attempted to quote feel more like a concession to the less constitutionally inclined side of the Court than a part of the preceding argument, but its very premise is fundamentally flawed. It relies on an appeal to tradition for its validity, but that very tradition is much younger than the one it replaced. Those “longstanding prohibitions” had only been in effect since 1934 and 1968 – 73 and 39 years, respectively – at the time Scalia wrote that. To put that in perspective, the Second Amendment in the US was truly unlimited at the federal level for the 146 years prior to that first federal gun control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). That time of unfettered liberty in arms – when, by the way, one absolutely could buy a canon just as one can today, regardless of what Biden believes – lasted twice as long as the considerably less free time that followed. Even adding the two laws’ ages together, one still falls 34 years short of that golden age of firearm freedom.
Longstanding, indeed. And lest anyone wonder why the Second Amendment was considered absolute for a century and a half, here is the text itself:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
But back to Biden. “There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America. For example, machine guns have been federally regulated for nearly 90 years,” the president proclaimed, contradicting his own point in the very sentence he made it, then finally concluding his point with “and this is still a free country.”
Is it though?
The Rights of Man
The right to keep and bear arms stems from the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness found in the Declaration of Independence – the central ideas upon which this country was built. Without the right to defend them, life and liberty are nothing but pretty words on a page. Increasing the age at which adults can exercise that right disenfranchises them of it. Restricting the right to possess the same sort of weapons as the government that might oppress a people, as was done in 1934 and then even more so in 1994 – and as Biden wants to do again now – does the same, as does prohibiting any group of people from owning adequate arms for defense.
The president spewed a number of false facts in his speech – as he oft does when discussing this topic – and nearly all of those have been corrected in other articles by LN. But perhaps none were so false as the following: “This is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s not about vilifying gun owners. In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave. I respect the culture and the tradition, and the concerns of lawful gun owners. At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute.” Five bold statements – but where is the truth?