Texas Governor Greg Abbott has always been a defender of the Second Amendment, but it now seems he plans to renege on his long-standing resistance to gun control. He has, in the past, opposed any infringement of the right to keep and bear arms – most notably with his championing of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. That right, he believes, was settled with the 1791 adoption of the Second Amendment.
Even after the shooting at Parkland, Florida, Gov. Abbott warned against knee-jerk reactions. Yet it appears he has a new outlook in the wake of the recent Santa Fe school shooting. Fox News reports that Gov. Abbott admits he could now support two types of stronger gun control.
Under Lock and Key
One of the areas in which Greg Abbott says he would now support stricter regulation is gun storage. As Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles explained, the Santa Fe shooter used his father’s legally acquired shotgun and .38 revolver. No additional purchasing restrictions could be argued to have the potential to stop this underage kid from getting these weapons – shy of a total ban on revolvers and shotguns. But what about stricter storage requirements?
Right now, Texas does not require gun owners to lock up their firearms and ammunition. The simple answer – exactly the sort Gov. Abbott warned against after the Parkland shooting in February – is to require all weapons be locked away so that children can’t access them. Before examining this, let’s briefly revisit the Second Amendment:
“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.”
Requiring guns be locked away has the practical effect of banning the use of firearms against all but the slowest of home invaders. A frequent argument of the “common sense gun control” crowd is that firearms and ammunition should be kept in separate locked areas.
So let’s look at a home invasion situation. A stranger enters the home, gun in hand. Maybe he’s here to steal. Perhaps it’s kidnapping, rape, or murder he has in mind. It could be all of the above. Either way, how likely is the person who brought a firearm into another’s home with the intent to use it – either as a weapon or a threat – to have a seat on the couch and wait while the resident unlocks both the gun and ammunition storage containers, loads a gun, and then prepares for defense?
Too Crazy to be Human
The other type of gun control law Abbott says he could get behind is the sort that improves the government’s ability to disarm certain people. He now wants “quicker reporting to law enforcement when a court has determined someone is mentally ill — in order to keep that person from having weapons.”
The problem is that this means he supports the idea of disarming people with mental illnesses and believes that the court should have the authority to determine just who is considered too ill to own a gun. This runs afoul of the Second Amendment in two significant ways.
It violates the amendment as written – the letter of the law, one might say. There is no “except clause” that limits who can keep and bear arms – just people. Restricting what groups of people actually have that right – or what arms they are allowed to keep and bear – blatantly violates that constitutional guarantee.
Perhaps more importantly, it goes against the philosophy behind the Second Amendment. Consider this oft-quoted line from the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If we are all viewed as equal by our Creator, and if He gave us the unalienable rights to Life and Liberty, then there must be a way to defend both life and liberty from those who would – ungodly though it be – alienate those rights from us. Enter the idea of self-defense. If God gave us the right to live, and to do so free from coercion, then He also gave us the right to defend both our lives and liberties. Even in the denial of God, the patriotic Atheist can follow this logic. If we are all equal under the law and have the right to live and to exercise free will – for whatever reason – then we must also have the right to stop other people from infringing on those rights.
To say that the mentally ill do not have the right to keep and bear arms is to say that they do not have the right to defend their lives or liberties. It means they have no right to life or liberty – that they are, in the eyes of the law, something less than human.
The governor’s new call for gun control that doesn’t infringe the rights of the people sounds a lot like the arguments of the “common sense” crowd on the left. Legislating toward these two goals doesn’t just abandon the Second Amendment; it tells a wide swath of the population that, to him, they’re something less than human.