Friday, January 29, 2016

The 'Bill of Privileges' is Under Attack!

A while back, in my local dead tree paper, there was a detailed and thoughtful essay on "Going' beyond laws' in dealing with guns". Although I appreciate the time and effort and thought this individual put into these proposals, unfortunately, some of his presuppositions are fatally flawed. Most noticeable was this:

Acknowledge that ownership of a gun is a privilege that carries with it responsibilities — just as does the possession and use of an automobile. Every gun owner should be licensed, every gun registered and an annual fee paid for each weapon owned.

Only, that's not true. Ownership of a gun is a right, not a privilege. The first ten amendments to the Constitution are considered the "Bill of Rights", not the "Bill of Privileges". The Second Amendment, like the First, identified rights bestowed by their Creator, that the government was not to interfere with.

"every gun registered"
Historically this has not worked out well for free people. The government which registers your guns today, knows exactly where to find them if it decides to ban and confiscate them tomorrow.

Cars are deadly weapons if not handled properly. They kill tens of thousands every year — as do guns — and we pay an annual fee for their registration. There is no reason not to treat the ownership of guns in equal fashion and focus the fees on reducing gun violence. We have on the order of three hundred million guns in this country. An annual fee of only $12 per gun would amass over $3 billion a year toward programs aimed at curbing the killings. This would not be "just another tax." Fees should be specifically ear-marked to address not "gun control" but the entire issue of gun violence in our country.

Only, there is no Constitutional "right to drive a car". You can buy a bicycle, take the bus, call a cab, bum a ride from your friends, call Uber. As our friends in gun control like to tell us, there's no "need" for you to own or drive a car. Gun ownership is different in that it is a right protected by the Constitution. As a right, specifically not to be infringed, imagine if we treated your right to vote as such a "privilege". Electing the wrong president might lead to enacting policies that are deadly to portions of the population. He could start a war. You should need a license to vote, to make sure you can can make the best decisions for our country. Of course, there will be a government administered exam to qualify for such a license. Let's call that... a literacy test! Your license fee? we could just call that a "poll tax". It will be worth it if it improves the quality of our government, yes?

Ideas can be deadly weapons, too. The ideology of Communism is responsible for the death of millions. The ideology of radical Islam's jihad has claimed thousands. America has on the order of 300 million people. A small registration fee from each one should cover the cost of the photo ID and the overhead to link that ID to all your electronic and public communication. We could earmark those fees for "thought control", since public speech is a 'privilege that carries with it responsibilities...'

Freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are historically and legally intertwined. We separate or damage them at our own peril.

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