Last week Donald Trump added a white paper to his presidential election campaign materials: PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Until then The Donald had been a one note Donny – his note was all immigration reform. I decided to make a professional examination of his paper. Then I decided to review the positions of major candidates from all parties on the subject of the Second Amendment. Not all of them, of course; there is something like 170 Republicans seeking the party’s nomination. I don’t have that kind of time. Trump gets the spotlight. Not because he’s Trump but because he published a white paper.
Now, this examination draws together two concepts which, for me, are diametrically opposed: I love and cherish firearms rights and all individual freedom; I detest electoral politics and government in general. Herein, though, I attempt to keep a neutral attitude towards the subject. You will soon realize my failure.
“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.” Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1791)(entirety). I have expounded, in great detail, on the Second Amendment. While a part of the Federal Constitution, establishing another government to plague mankind, the Second Amendment is the part that embodies the spirit of natural self-preservation, a branch of Natural Law. It embodies protecting oneself from small-scale, “ordinary” predation as well as from the tyranny brought about by politics.
Politics involves the people setting themselves up for disaster one election at a time. It’s usually a contest to see who is the biggest and worst rat – the rats usually win. “The most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” J.R.R. Tolkien, 1943 The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Let’s get started with…
The Republican Field
Trump begins his dissertation: “The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.” He soon forgets the infringement and the period and explains why some abridgment is okay.
Well, he doesn’t throw The 2A under the bus immediately:
The Constitution doesn’t create that right – it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.
That’s his way of kinda sorta acknowledging Natural Law. I might add, here, that it’s not just about self-defense. It’s also about tyranny prevention and resolution – through armed and extreme measures if necessary. The Founding Father knew about that too; The Supreme Court wouldn’t exist without it either.
Trump then moves on to enforcing “the laws on the books.” That’s great so long as those laws are valid – most are not. “We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals,” Trump says. He gives examples of local violent crimes. The man is not running for any local office but for President of the United States. There are only two (potentially) violent federal crimes mentioned in that Constitution nobody reads: piracy and treason. And, those are almost exclusively committed (alone with counterfeiting), these days, by the federal government itself.
States and localities should enforce laws that prevent violence against the innocent or which punish such violence. My view is if a man commits a violent crime, then he should be prevented from further interaction with society, either via a prison sentence or a well placed shot. This approach would necessarily remove him from the pool of persons capable of bearing arms. Otherwise, the issue of crime is as completely removed from the Second Amendment discussion as violent crimes are removed from federal jurisdiction.
Speaking of well placed shots … Trump advocates self-defense. That’s good! He boasts, “that’s why I have a concealed carry permit, and that’s why tens of millions of Americans have concealed carry permits as well.” That’s bad! Who needs a “permit” from anyone (least of all from political and bureaucratic rodentia) to exercise a right?? Free people must be free to arm themselves if they like, without any government involvement – infringement if you will.
Trump wants to fix our broken mental health system. Again, that’s great. It’s also not part of his desired employment as set forth in Article Two of the Constitution (I keep coming back to that thing…). I assume he means using his personal financial and celebrity status to help the mentally ill. For that I commend him. Otherwise, like crime mental health is irrelevant to the Second Amendment.
He gets back to guns: “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.” By itself this is his piece de resistance! However, he immediately murkifies the white right out of his paper by praising federal background checks (infringement) and by advocating a national carry permit (we have that now, it’s called the Second Amendment). He also says driving a car is a privilege, not a right but that is another can of white papers.
The Donald ends by praising the military (yes, he’s running as a Republican) and proclaiming the rights of servicemen to carry arms. I wonder if he caught the word “militia” in the text of The 2A? The militia is the people. The people have the right to arms. Trump’s military is the national standing army, known bane of freedom and limited to a two-year duration by that Constitution (am I dreaming all this????).
If pressed I don’t think trump would stand he forceful claim about people owning the firearm of their choice. Suppose my choice is belt-fed and electrically operated. Who Donald permit that or would he fire me? I don’t care to find out.
Carly doesn’t have a white paper though she has much better looks that Trump (sure he would agree). Her Second Amendment views may be found on her website, including a video from Fox News!
She notes that her husband has a government permission slip to carry a gun and she thinks that is fine and Constitutional. I don’t think she’s read the document nor does she grasp the concept of a right.
Dr. Paul is the son of Dr. Ron Paul, the man who should be President now. Outside of the Libertarians (see below), Rand has the best stance of The 2A.
As President, I vow to uphold our entire Bill of Rights, but specifically our right to bear arms.
Those who support the second amendment must also vehemently protect the Fourth Amendment. If we are not free from unreasonable and warrantless searches, no one’s guns are safe.
I will not support any proposed gun control law which would limit the right to gun ownership by those who are responsible, law-abiding citizens.
In the White House, I will remain vigilant in the fight against infringements on our Second Amendment rights.
Excellent! However, to be true to his word, Rand would have to seek to repeal numerous federal laws in place now (NFA, ATF, 1986 “tax” act, etc.). He’s also right about protecting rights in tandem. That’s really the only valid reason to have a government. He must also know that, sadly, every government in human history has immediately departed from this objective. This trend will not abate anytime soon, Rand or no.
Yeah. Another Bush. Bush number three. Not to worry, there’s a Clinton down below (not like that, Bill…).
I could not find an issue statement from George…er…Jeb’s website. I did find an interesting exchange between the former governor and Stephen Colbert on The Late Show:
Stephen Colbert: Well, the right to have an individual firearm to protect yourself is a national document, in the Constitution, so shouldn’t that also be applied national…
Jeb Bush: No. Not necessarily…There’s a 10th amendment to our country, the Bill of Rights has a 10th amendment that says powers are given to the states to create policy, and the federal government is not the end all and be all. That’s an important value for this country, and it’s an important federalist system that works quite well.
Once again the comedian gets it right, the politician wrong. Bush is aware of the tenth but not the second? Firearms and defense are universal rights not just national rights. The right to self-preservation exists even in the absence of any government (imagine that for a minute..aaahh). Bush didn’t even get number 10 quite right; “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.” Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1791)(entirety).
This means the federal government is strictly limited to those very few powers specifically written in the Constitution. The States have some power outside the scope of the federal leviathan – concerning violent crime for example. And, The People themselves retain political power. By the way, government is a mix of powers and rights. The body politic is empowered only insofar as it may preserve the rights of the individual. None of this power, federal, state or personal may (legitimately) infringe the freedoms of the people. Illegitimately, it happens all the time. Use your personal power – save us from another Bush presidency.
The days of Zell Miller and Sam Nunn being behind us, many write off the donkey party as wholly anti-gun. Anti-freedom is more accurate. They are generally a mirrored image of their anti-freedom elephant counterparts. Losing my objectivity, yes.
Clinton. Yes, one married to that other Clinton. Like so many leftists, Hillary couches firearms issues in backwards thinking and words. To her guns in private hands are bad and result in bad things. Instead of “firearms rights” she talks about “gun violence prevention.”
“I don’t know how we keep seeing shooting after shooting, read about the people murdered because they went to Bible study or they went to the movies or they were just doing their job, and not finally say we’ve got to do something about this.” Hillary, August 27, 2015. Part of her something would be reinstating the assault weapons ban. That would be infringement as prohibited by the Second Amendment.
Like Hillary I too deplore violence. That’s why I support a ban on government.
Bernie’s list of issues is devoid of anything for or against the Second Amendment. I glanced over it and it rather reminded me of Karl Marx, maybe with a friendly Vermont bent. Moving on…
Crazy Joe is apparently just about to get into the race. He has no papers or issue statements yet. However, some of his positions on guns may be found here and here. Mind you, should he enter the race, his positions are subject to magically change depending on who he’s talking to. Buyer beware.
Despite having voted against gun rights in the past, at a press conference in 2013 Biden enthusiastically demonstrated his prize, imaginary shotgun for reporters. Trump has a point about mental illness.
Americans love their “two-party” system despite its none-existence. We all tend to forget about the lovable, pot-loving Libertarians. In addition to legalizing (decriminalizing, geesh) whacky tobacky, the LP is pretty decent on gun rights as far as it goes…
Darryl Perry is running for President. He has a list of issues in his platform among which is “Self Defense.” “As a Life Member of the Second Amendment Foundation, I support the right to privately own and possess firearms or any other weapon deemed appropriate for self-defense.” Perry.
Deemed appropriate by whom, Mr. Perry? “Deemed appropriate” sounds like the talk of the permit set. What about offensive weapons designed to rid the people of a tyrant. Ah. That would go against the LP’s pledge, “I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.”
That’s fine and dandy during civilized times. But, suppose there’s a government on the loose? What then? Defense? Defense against government is best accomplished by government prevention, which may require a little initiation of force – see the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson, New Hampshire Constitution, etc.
Mr. Johnson was the LP candidate during the 2012 election. No word on whether he’s in for this bout. Nonetheless I have included his position.
“I don’t believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None.” Johnson, April 20, 2011, Slate Magazine. If he means firearms for the people, then that’s the best Second Amendment support statement of the 21st Century.
The only way to improve on a position like that is to declare there should be no government. None. But that would deprive us of white paper analysis and fun articles like this one. Cheers!
***Note*** Nothing in the preceding article should be construed in any way as supporting any candidate for any office. Perrin Lovett does not support government (outside of theoretical discussion and fun poking).