The Politics of Appeasement Will Defeat Gun Owners

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The Colorado Freedom

The Politics of Appeasement Will Defeat Gun Owners

by Ari Armstrong, December 28, 1999

The NRA's mantra since the Columbine shooting has been, "We need better enforcement of the laws already on the books, not new laws further restricting the rights of gun owners." This campaign has been successful at educating people about the vast number of firearm restriction laws already in existence, and it has taken away some of the momentum from the anti-gun-owner crusades -- for now. But in the long run, the NRA's politics of appeasement can only help defeat the rights of gun owners.

As the NRA's critics have noted, the policy of supporting a fuller enforcement of existing laws implies that such laws are justified and proper, even though the NRA opposed the passage of some of these laws. The "laws already on the books" include a host of flagrantly Unconstitutional provisions. These include:

  • The National Firearms Act of 1934, which says holding a shotgun a millimeter too short is a felony offense, outlaws so-called "silencers," and heavily restricts the use of automatic rifles. Today, thousands of honest gun owners rot in prison because of some technical violation of the NFA. When you think of the NFA, remember Waco and Ruby Ridge, both of which were instigated by alleged violations of the NFA.

  • The National Gun-Control Act of 1968, which further restricts the rights of gun owners. The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given the authority to regulate guns at all. The matter is supposed to be left solely to state governments, and the states are severely restricted by the Second Amendment. Of course, the federal government has taken the Commerce Clause as a blank check to over-ride the rest of the Constitution at will, even though the clear intent of that Clause was only to prevent states from erecting tariffs and other trade restrictions.

  • The Gun-Free School Zones Act, which ensures children at school will be left to the mercy of violent criminals, who somehow never seem to pay much heed to the Act.

  • Laws which restrict the rights of lawful adults ages 18-21 to purchase handguns.

  • Mandatory criminal background checks for most gun purchases. Today, honest citizens must first ask permission of federal agents before they can exercise their fundamental liberties. Too often people are wrongfully denied permission to buy a gun or are made to wait. The process does little if anything to deter criminals from getting guns, but it raises the costs and hassles for honest people who need a gun for self-defense. It also provides the government with a list of gun owners, the necessary prerequisite for future confiscation.

But the NRA doesn't denounce mandatory background checks as an Unconstitutional violation of civil liberties. Instead, the NRA throws its full support behind such laws! It's not good enough that such laws exist, says the NRA, such statutes must be enforced more vigorously!

The NRA's strategy will necessarily back-fire on gun owners. If background checks at gun stores are a good thing, then, logically, background checks at gun shows must be a good thing as well, and then background checks even for private sales must also be considered ideal.

One can imagine the NRA's political strategies a few years from now, once background checks are universal and the government wants to register every gun in America. "We don't need full registry -- all we need is better enforcement of the universal background checks now on the books!"

Of course, better enforcement of unjust laws is unlikely to reduce crime, and may even increase crime by further disarming honest people. The NRA is setting itself up for the counter-charge, "We've tried full enforcement and that hasn't worked. Therefore, we obviously need even more laws restricting the rights of gun owners."

With its politics of appeasement, the NRA grants the moral high-ground to the anti-gun zealots. The NRA has already granted the fundamental premise that background checks are legitimate. Once that premise is established, the enemies of civil rights will find no difficulty in drawing the premise to its logical conclusions.

The Colorado Freedom