Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is the real reason?



It is clear that most of the gun control proposals flying around Washington will do nothing to curb gun violence. What they will do is impede the exercise of a constitutional right, as it is now exercised by millions of peaceable citizens. It may be offered that the new proposals would not infringe the right too much. But they would infringe it to the extent that we would be less free afterward than we were before: Our choices and our privacy would be reduced.

It is reasonable to ask what the legislation's purpose is. The pretext is not the purpose. Previous bans and registration schemes have not done what was advertised. They have often worked opposite their stated intent, making citizens less safe not more.

So what is the value of such legislation? Let us grant that progressives are not stupid. They can look at Chicago or D.C., places where the Second Amendment has been infringed, and see that it hasn't worked well at all. They are not such fools as to be taken in by their own rhetoric. They keep repeating it, though. What is the real purpose they have in view?

The simplest explanation is not always the right one, but it is usually the best place to start. The Obama left has rejected the thinking in back of the Second Amendment. They see no value in it; they do not like it and mistrust it. That the power of violence is not the monopoly of the state is an idea they find disturbing. In their worldview the state is to be all-powerful. That the citizens could forcibly resist the government is an alien, disquieting idea. Like other things they disapprove, they wish to legislate it away.

That, at least, is the simple explanation. It rests upon the observation that the liberal attitude toward government is essentially worshipful. Leftists have historically been antagonistic toward religion because it draws awe and obedience away from the state. They want the state to be all in all, without superiors or rivals in calling men to obedience.

So also with arms. They want the monopoly. Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." In an essential way he was right; the power to coerce others rather than persuade them rests on violence, in the end. Government cannot reign supreme so long as the people retain the power to oppose it with guns of their own.  Do you have a better explanation?

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An afterthought: The morning after I wrote this, I recalled that Alan Greenspan long ago made a similar case about 'statist' opposition to the gold standard. Gold money gets in the way of government power, so instinctively people dislike it who think government power should be unopposed. Read it here: http://constitution.org/mon/greenspan_gold.htm . A quote:
Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending. . . 
A pocketful of gold pieces gives the citizen immunity from arbitrary re-valuation of his money, so it gives him a degree of economic independence when the politicians play the fiat money game.

There are doubtless other examples of the mindset that opposes freedom's instruments, such as guns and gold, on the basis that these stand counter to limitless government power. It might be interesting to consider such examples under a common heading, such as "things you hate if you love big government."

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